Promoting Academic Integrity in Online Courses

Decorative: "Academic Integrity" heading a piece of paper with a pen, question mark, and exclamation point beside the paper


Image above links to "Academic Integrity: Your First Step Towards Sheer Excellence."

1. "Instructors Believe Students More Likely to Cheat When Class Is Online" (post) "offer[s] guidance to instructors concerned about discouraging academic misconduct, including these suggestions":

  • "Clarify the purpose of the assignment so that students understand why they need to 'put in the work.'"
  • "Increase teacher presence in the course and encourage teacher and student interactions to help students feel connected."
  • "Impose time limits and have students take the test all at the same time."
  • "Create your own test question pool and randomize it as much as possible so each student gets a unique version."
  • "Use 'shorter, more frequent practice tasks,' so that students can refine their approaches 'in a more iterative fashion.'"
  • "Use open book exams, which test higher levels of learning."

2. "Academic Integrity in the Age of Of Online Learning" (pdf) from Wiley further elaborates the following "Top Ten Ways to Discourage Academic Misconduct" (pp. 4-8):

a. "Cultural/Attitudinal"

  • Clear "Goals and Learning Objectives"
    • "When students understand the educational goals of their assignments, they’re more likely to put in the work and not 'game the system.'"
  • "Teacher Presence"
    • "[W]hen students feel more connected with teachers and classmates, they may be deterred from engaging in academic dishonesty."

b. "Technical"

  • "Time Limits"
    • "[E]nsur[e] that prepared students have enough time to read and answer the questions promptly, but not enough time to look up answers from other sources."
  • "Question Pools"
    • "The larger your question pool, the greater your ability to draw random questions to build a quiz or assignment so that every student will get a different online test."
  • "Types of Questions"
    • "[I]nclude open-ended or essay-type questions on exams."
    • "[I]nclude transfer or application-type questions."
  • "Testing Parameters"
    • "Shuffle or randomize the questions."
    • "Use your question pool to create unique sets of items for each student."
    • "Set up exams so your students only see one question at a time."

c. "Pedagogical" 

  • "Research Papers and Essays"
  • "Alternative Assignments"
    • "If each student or group is doing something different, it’s not likely that they’ll be able to get much useful help from others."
  • "Frequent Opportunities for Practice and Assessment"
    • "[D]istribut[ing] points across many course components ... makes cheating more difficult."
  • "Open-Book Exams"
    • "This type of exam not only decreases cheating, but also allows you to test higher levels of learning."
    • Such exams "can also reduce student stress, which may make it less likely for students to cheat."
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