What to Know About Academic Integrity When Designing Assessments Online


Finally, be aware that there are predatory third parties (contract cheating companies, term paper mills, unethical tutoring companies, etc.) that have escalated their operations recently. Some services are employing aggressive marketing tactics directed specifically to students experiencing high levels of stress. Have conversations with your students about the importance of protecting themselves against predatory pay-to-pass companies. Emphasize that you are here for them and will help them in whatever way you can.

Now is the time to communicate to our students that we are all part of the University of Calgary family and we are here to support each other.

Influencing factors and strategies

Strategies:

  • Provide examples of proper academic work, discuss common academic misconduct examples. 
  • Communicate expectations early and provide opportunities to discuss with students. 
  • Create a D2L FAQ discussion for students to ask questions. 
  • Provide opportunities for students to submit assignment drafts for feedback. 

Strategy: Get to know students written work through the discussion board and other frequent small stakes assessments. 

Strategy: Provide opportunities for students to learn the technology to reduce their anxiety before a test or project is due, such as a practice quiz that has no grades association. 

Strategy: Time management for students in online courses is challenging. Communicate expectations early, set due dates and provide opportunities for feedback. 

Strategies: 

  • Create activities that have students engage with each other and you to build a sense of a supportive community 
  • Encourage students to talk about academic integrity through the discussion board. 

Strategies: 

  • Use diverse assessment types to provide a variety of opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning. 
  • Use frequent short low-stakes assignments and provide timely feedback. 

Keep the focus on promoting learning and not on avoiding cheating

There is ample research to support that there is not necessarily more cheating in online courses. However, the nature of the cheating can change. There might be more use of unauthorized materials or unauthorized third parties. As educators, our role includes assessing in ways that are appropriate and fair for the learning environment.

What to avoid:

Multiple-choice exams designed from face-to-face proctored environments are not recommended. Alterative assessment options are available at: https://taylorinstitute.ucalgary.ca/teaching-continuity/student-assessment-ideas

Avoid trying to use synchronous tools like Zoom or Skype to invigilate exams. Not all students have cameras and some of them may not be financially able to buy one. We cannot require students to buy a video camera and students cannot be penalized if they do not have one.

Understand that connectivity, necessary travel, different time zones, access to technology, and personal circumstances may make it impossible for students to do online tests with a minimal window of time. We recommend giving students a minimum of 24-48 hours to complete any assessment.

Now is the time to be compassionate with deadlines, within reason.

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