Academic Integrity Online

For those of us more familiar with face-to-face teaching, the move to online is causing some consternation, not least around how we manage academic integrity in this space. As more of our assignments move online, how will we manage the risk around cheating or other academic integrity (AI) issues?

Trust your students

  • Yes, trust your students and let them know you believe they will act with integrity.
  • Build confidence in your students so they do not panic and doubt their ability to submit passable work on time. Design in opportunities to practice before submitting work for grading. You could utilise peer-to-peer feedback for this.
  • Be empathetic during this challenging time – share some of your own academic struggles with students to help normalise self-doubt and move forward.

Clarify what AI means in the online space

  • Review where you cover AI in your topic; don’t assume it’s someone else’s responsibility or that it has been covered already.
  • Revisit the Student Academic Integrity Policy and Procedures, and encourage students to do the same. Encourage discussion about what AI does entail and how it might look different in the online space. You could do this in a Discussion Forum – consider anonymising users so that students feel comfortable to ask ‘hard’ questions.
  • Collaborating vs colluding – help students understand the difference; be explicit, particularly if you have high-risk assessment in your topic that can’t be quickly or easily changed (e.g. quizzes with a mark/grade attached). Be explicit about what they can and can’t collaborate on.

Design assessment to support AI

  • Ensure assessment is aligned with learning outcomes (especially where assessment needs to change) so that students continue to see the relevance of it to their own learning.
  • Make assessment authentic – just because you are online, it doesn’t mean all the assessments must change. Assessments are often submitted via FLO anyway so many won’t need to change – if students currently do a mock grant application as that is relevant to practice, don’t change it to an essay.
  • Keep providing usable feedback – where students continue to receive feedback to learn from their work, they are less likely to cheat.
  • Avoid summative quizzes (e.g. multiple choice and right/wrong type questions) – these can inadvertently encourage collusion amongst students. They can be helpful as a formative learning tool but are a high risk in terms of AI issues.
  • Consider short vivas – these can be done using Collaborate and allow more authentic assessment of verbal skill than a presentation (uploaded to FLO).=

Apply strategies to prevent and detect AI misconduct or misunderstandings

  • Include peer-to-peer learning – FLO has a number of tools that can support this including Collaborate (for synchronous discussion), wikis (as a space for collaborating on a task as well as a synchronous chat function), and Chat (text-based). An example of this might be students providing feedback to each other on a practice task, before a piece is submitted for grading.
  • Keep up the relationship you have with the students – continuing to demonstrate the importance of the relationship between you and the students, and the students and each other is a great strategy to reduce cheating. Use discussion forums or ‘pop-in’ times in the Collaborate Course Room to keep in touch.
  • Use Turnitin (text matching software) on submission of assignments.
  • Avoid heavy weightings on assessment (e.g. worth 50% or more). Obviously, there are times this is not appropriate but heavily weighted assessment is more likely to create AI issues.
  • Avoid continuous very low stakes assessment (e.g. weekly quizzes). These can be seen as trivial so students may be more likely to collude.

Cheating and Assessment resources

Flinders University Academic Integrity website

Bretag, T., Harper, R., Burton, M., Ellis, C., Newton, P., Saddiqui, S., Rozenberg, P. & van Haeringen, K. (2018). Contract cheating: A survey of Australian university students. Studies in Higher Education, 1-20.

Harper, R., Bretag, T., Ellis, C., Newton, P., Rozenberg, P., Saddiqui, S., & van Haeringen, K. (2018). Contract cheating: a survey of Australian university staff. Studies in Higher Education, 1-17.

Sanger, C. (2020). Teaching intelligence: how to take your classes online. Viewed 18 March 2020.

Written by Cassandra Hood
Academic Developer – CILT

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