The OAI had a number of resources to promote academic integrity in online assessments. For more tips and resources for teaching in the online environment, visit Keep Learning with Integrity.
Academic Integrity in Online Exams
The following tips were prepared by CEL, CTE, and the OAI. This information is available in PDF format.
Set your students up for success
- Talk to your students about the importance of honesty and academic integrity – this is the most effective way of preventing academic misconduct.
- Consider including the Academic Integrity Agreement on all online exams and discuss the importance of upholding academic integrity in your discipline.
- Give clear directions about your expectations for writing assignments, group work, and online exams.
- Vary your assessment strategies and use a number of lower stake or scaffolded assignments to evaluate your students.
- Increase your online social presence and hold online office hours so students can connect with you and see you as being a real person. Student-to-instructor interaction is important to students’ learning and when students feel a connection with their instructor they are less likely to cheat.
- Point to resources that students can access should they need help such as emailing their academic advisors, online tutorials or workshops, library references etc.
- Watch the webinar Academic Integrity in Online Course: Adapting During Covid 19 (YouTube, 1:26:40).
- Keep your focus on learning, not on avoiding cheating.
Don’t assume that all, or even most, students will cheat on online exams. Know what the research shows.
- Research shows that compared with assessments written in person, online assessments do not necessarily lead to increased cheating. The frequency of cheating in online assessments depends on several factors related to the design and parameters of the assessment.
- In any assessment environment (online or in person) academic misconduct is more likely:
- When students are in high stakes situations.
- When there is an increased opportunity for misconduct. When instructors have not taken steps to uphold academic integrity, the opportunity for misconduct is increased.
Avoid creating high stakes situations where students are more likely to feel desperate
- Avoid giving high stakes assessments (i.e., those that are worth 30% or more).
- Keep the duration of the assessment (i.e., the amount of time for actually interacting with the assessment questions or tasks) reasonable.
- Remember to add extra time for each student who requires that accommodation, as per their accommodations plan from AccessAbility Services so that students with disabilities do not face increased obstacles.
Design exams that uphold academic integrity and decrease the opportunity for academic misconduct
- Avoid re-using the same assessment questions from term to term. Making even slight changes to the questions and the response options improves academic integrity.
- Explicitly state that the assessment is open-book.
- For multiple choice assessments, consider incorporating at least some written response questions, if possible.
- Avoid using open test bank questions where answers can be found online.
- Create large banks of questions for online quizzes and have each student get a random sample of these questions.
- Scramble the response options on multiple choice questions. This works well as long as long as there is no choice for the questions that is “all of the above”.
- For calculation-based questions, consider using an algorithmic question generator to create questions that have different parameters and numbers in the questions and in the answers.
- When creating a new assessment, prepare multiple versions of the assessment in order to reduce future workload.
Use timed exams appropriately and only when learning outcomes warrant timed assessment
- Recognize that many students are writing assessments in sub-optimal conditions that might involve interruptions from ill family members, unreliable Internet connections, etc.
- Consider what you want to assess by timing the assessment, and whether or not that fits with your learning outcomes.
- For low stakes quizzes that are intended to assess students' recall of information, keep the window of time short, so the test doesn't end up assessing students' ability to look up the answers.
- When using application questions (for which the answers cannot simply be looked up) timing is typically less crucial.
- Recognize that timed exams are generally considered stressful (especially if students see the countdown clock during the exam).
Consider that students are writing exams in various time zones, during a pandemic
- Set a time parameters of at least 24 hours so that students in multiple time zones have the opportunity to access the exam during daytime hours.
- Recognize that a pandemic increases the likelihood of students becoming ill during the term. Provide the opportunity for a make-up exam rather than re-weighting missed midterm grades to the final exam.
- Provide flexibility by offering multiple quizzes with the lowest one being dropped.
Use exam delivery settings that encourage academic integrity
- Show only one question per screen (vs. displaying all exam questions on one screen) to reduce the likelihood that students will make use of “screen print” to copy the exam questions.
- Do not show grades until all students in the class (including all sections of the course) have written the exam.
Academic Integrity Agreement for Assingments and Tests
Instructors can ask students to sign the following academic integrity agreements when completing assignments and tests:
- Academic Integrity Honesty Statement from Keep Learning Final Exams (for examinations)
- Academic Integrity Checklist from the Office of Academic Integrity (for assignments or tests)
Implementing the use of a signed form can help reduce academic misconduct (Ely, Henderson & Wachsman, 2014; Konhheim-Kalkstein, 2006). In particular, research demonstrates that signing an academic integrity form in a non-proctored environment can decrease instances of cheating (Ely, Henderson & Wachsman, 2014). Instructors should introduce the form to be signed by students and discuss the intent behind its use.
The form is a reminder that academic integrity is important, and that each student is personally committing, by their signature, to uphold the values of integrity and honestly demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the topic at hand. Being explicit and specific about prohibited behavior makes it easier for students to understand and avoid (Whitley & Keith-Speigel, 2001).
Infographic Icons for Assessments
Instructors can use infographic icons on assessments to clearly indicate to students the level of collaboration acceptable, authorized aids, and unauthorized aids. Download and use the templates and icons (PPT).