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2020 Fall Teaching Resources from the Remote 2.0 Committee: Academic Integrity Online

Curated resources for faculty reviewed by members of the Remote 2.0 subcommittee.

Academic Integrity & Online Teaching


The rapid move to remote instruction posed new challenges with regards to ensuring academic integrity. The difficulty in proctoring students during assessmentis heightened when standard closed-book/closed-note exams are administered online. Students have easier access to the internetto textbooks or class notes, or other students for unauthorized collaboration  

Are our students cheating?

Just because it is easier to cheat in an online learning environment does not mean more students are doing it. There is no strong statistical evidence that the rate of cheating with online assessment is enhanced. Most studies conclude that the rate of cheating is nearly the same for online courses as with face-to-face. A self-reporting study of 635 students at Marshall University was used to measure the level and type of cheating occurring in the digital age. The study found the rate of academic dishonesty was modestly higher in face-to-face instructionIt is important to emphasize that the study did find the rate of students improperly sharing information to be significantly higher with online assessment.  Students are cheating in approximately the same numbers, but they are using different means to cheat on online assessments, especially sharing information with each other (i.e., texting)Lastly, the study found that students perceive academic dishonesty occurs more with online assessment.  If not addressed, this perception can lead to a poor course culture.   

While this may sound like good news, the reality is approximately 1/3 of students cheat no matter the course delivery. A higher than normal rate of academic dishonesty was reported to the Dean’s Office during Spring 2020. Most of these cases were associated with students caught inappropriately collaborating with an online exam.   

On this page we aim to share some known strategies that will combat the issue

Rethinking Assessment

There are many ways to deter cheating by rethinking how you assess your students.   

  • Designing subjective assessment tools over objective measures is one of the most effective approaches.  

    • Objective Assessments typically have only one correct answer. For example: multiple choice, true/false, or matching. 

    • Subjective Assessments typically have several correct responses or at least several ways to arrive at a correct response. For example: short answer or essay questions.

  • Incorporating the approaches of authentic assessment and/or instructional scaffolding coupled with informative assessment is recommended.  

  • Replacing high point value objective exams with more frequent, but lower point value quizzes   

  • Taking advantage of the online testing facilities that Sakai offers like randomizing questions and using a test bank. Please refer to the document created by Dr. Lohr below.  

The importance of communication cannot be overly stressed. The simple act of discussing expectations with students goes a long way in deterring cheating. Make sure to explicitly inform students what constitutes cheating and reminding them at the time of the exam. Students are often encouraged to study in groups and share information while studying; consequently, they do not always perceive “sharing information” as cheating.  

Try to have a positive outlook and encourage academic integrity rather than focusing on dishonesty & cheating. Cheating happens independent of the mode of instruction. Given that there is no strong evidence that cheating occurs more frequent with online instruction, a negative attitude may sour the student experience. Design your course appropriately -- deter the cheating as best as possible, incorporate less risky assessment approaches, and remember to communicate with your students.

Using Technology to Solve Issues of Academic Integrity

Technology has been developed for use in policing online exams. ProctorU and Turnitin are well known examples. Besides the cost, there are downsides associated with these technologies. ProctorU, for instance, garnered a lot of resentment from students of the universities that took advantage of them.

Please be aware that the college does not have access to these technologies and does not plan to acquire them. If you would like the college to acquire a new technology discuss your plans with academic affairs as soon as possible.