Best Practices for Promoting Academic Integrity in Online Courses

Overview:

Research tells us that students are more likely to engage in academic misconduct under the following conditions:

  • Poor time management
  • Struggling to grasp the material
  • Feeling as if the class is not relevant
  • Thinking they won’t be held accountable
  • Significant stress inside and outside of the classroom

COVID-19 Impact:

When you consider how many of these conditions are exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s important to consider how best to encourage integrity in your class with the following practices.

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Course Policies

  • Include a highly visible Academic Integrity statement in your syllabus and online course materials. See TILT’s guide on Addressing Academic Misconduct on My Syllabus.
  • Reaffirm your course’s commitment to academic integrity. A simple statement via email, chat, or recorded lecture will go a long way. Remind your students that academic integrity is important to you and your course, especially now that it is moving online. More info at Creating a Classroom Culture of Integrity.

Classwork/Homework

  • Be as specific as possible about your expectations for how their work should be completed now that your course is online. What does work in your class look like now? How and when should that work be completed? Be as specific as possible.
  • When students collaborate, give specific guidelines about what is allowable and what is not. Mark specific assignments “good for collaboration, some collaboration acceptable (see restrictions), or no collaboration allowed.”
  • Focus more on formative rather than summative assessments.
  • Prevent the use of paper mills by using current events or more contemporary issues in writing assignments.
  • Foil contract cheating by using the process model for writing assignments, with checkpoints at various stages to assess student progress.
  • Thwart sites like CourseHero and Chegg by avoiding sample problems from textbooks or using previous versions of assignments that you may have given in the past.

Exams

  • Use the CSU Honor Pledge. There are a number of ways you can include this as a non-credited question in your exam. We recommend that you create a short response question that asks a student to copy the CSU Honor Pledge by typing it in the submission box. Research says that even this simple act encourages more ethical behavior by test takers.
  • When designing open book/open note quizzes or exams, be specific about what sources your students can use. Ex. “You may only use your course notes, lecture slides, and textbook.” Include the phrase “any other sources, unless explicitly approved by your instructor, may not be used during the completion of this quiz or exam.” To avoid confusion, you may give examples of sources/resources that definitely are NOT allowed: ex. Google, a friend’s help, a solutions manual.
  • Use ProctorU’s Auto Launch or Respondus’ Monitor in concert with assessment questions that allow students to illustrate their mastery of course concepts. If you will require them to take proctored exams via ProctorU, Monitor, or other programs, help them understand what conditions you will require during the exam. Will they be required to be alone or can they be in a common space? What about cell phones, smartwatches, and other devices? Be specific about what they can and cannot have with them in their exam space (notes, calculator, scratch paper, books).

How to Report Academic Misconduct

  • Respond to academic misconduct if it occurs. Students may look to see how their instructor will respond to potential cheating. Continuing to follow CSU’s policies and procedures and reporting misconduct if it occurs will communicate that you are upholding the university’s standard.
  • If an incident occurs, email or call the student FIRST to give them an opportunity to explain what occurred. This is a CSU Faculty Manual requirement. If, after that conversation, your concern has not been satisfied, you should submit an incident report. However, notifying the student of your concerns and giving them an opportunity to respond is an important part of granting our student’s their right to due process.
  • Intervening when academic misconduct occurs is essential to addressing it in a meaningful and lasting way. Often, instructors are concerned about the consequences a student faces when they are reported. We prepared this resource to help you understand what is likely and unlikely to happen.

Resources

  • The CSU Academic Integrity Tutorial. We designed this Canvas module to teach students about academic integrity, its value in their academic work and in the workplace, as well as help them recognize common causes of academic misconduct and how to avoid it. Upon completion, it will provide students with a certificate that they can send their instructors to prove their participation.
  • The CSU Academic Integrity Program.
  • Information and training instructions on using Proctor U Auto-Launch

As always, the CSU Academic Integrity Program Director, Dr. Joseph Brown, is here to assist and support you during this transition.

Contact Info

Photo of Dr. Joseph Brown

Dr. Joseph Brown
Director: Academic Integrity

Rm 147
Email Phone: 970.491.2898