Academic Integrity

Focus your assessments on the learning. Talk to your students about academic misconduct, and use information on this page to uphold academic integrity in your remote teaching. Visit Keep Learning with Integrity for Instructors for more information and resources.

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 an Academic Integrity Honour Statement on all online assessments, including exams.
  • Give clear directions about your expectations for writing assignments, group work, and assessments.
  • Vary your assessment strategies and use a number of lower stake or scaffolded assignments to evaluate your students.
  • Increase your social presence and hold online office hours so students can connect with you and see you are 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.
  • Watch the Academic Integrity in Online Courses: Adapting During Covid 19 webinar (YouTube, 1:26:40).
  • View the Navigating Academic Integrity Issues in Online Teaching and Learning event hosted by the Office of Integrity or view the slides (PDF)
  • Keep your focus on learning, not on avoiding cheating.

Don’t assume that all, or even most, students will cheat

  • Research shows that compared with assessments written in person, online assessments do not necessarily lead to increased cheating. The frequency of cheating online 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 instructors have not taken steps to uphold academic integrity, the opportunity for misconduct is increased.

Avoid creating situations where students are more likely to feel desperate

  • Avoid 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 students who have accommodations plans with AccessAbility Services so that they do not face increased obstacles.

Design assessments that decrease the opportunity for academic misconduct

  • Avoid re-using the same assessments 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 some written response questions.
  • Avoid using open test bank questions where answers can be found online.
  • Create large question banks for online quizzes where each student get a random sample of questions.
  • Scramble the response options on multiple choice questions. This works well as long as long as “all of the above” is not one of the options.
  • 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 assessments appropriately and only when learning outcomes warrant timed assessment

  • Recognize that many students are writing assessments may experience interruptions from ill family members, unreliable Internet connections, etc.
  • Consider what you want to assess by timing the assessment, and if 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 assessments can be stressful (especially if students see the countdown clock during the exam).
  • Do not show grades until all students in the class (including all sections of the course) have written the exam.

Consider that students are located in various time zones

  • Set a time window to start the assessment of at least 24 hours so that students located elsewhere 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 during the term with the lowest one being dropped.