Academic Integrity and Options to Discourage Cheating
Academic Integrity and Options to Discourage Cheating
Our institution and faculty rightfully value academic integrity, understanding the importance of fairness and the need to provide students with the academic credentials they have earned.
Whether assessing student performance in an online, remote or in-person classroom, there is nothing that can absolutely prevent cheating. There are, however, several ways to deter cheating and encourage academic integrity.
The following are steps to consider in order to limit cheating.
- Reminding students of the importance of academic integrity and reinforcing your assumption that most are honest and trustworthy will help to create the expectation of ethical behavior.
- You might consider asking students to sign the Kent State Honor Pledge as part of their exam. Here is an excerpt:
- “In support of Kent State University's standards of excellence, honesty, integrity and academic accountability, I pledge, on my honor, to conduct myself at all times in accordance with university rules that prohibit cheating, plagiarism or any other form of academic dishonesty….”
- Remind your students about the value of the knowledge and skills they are acquiring in this course and how that will be essential for success in future courses, in their careers and in other future endeavors.
- Introduce the importance of developing intrinsic motivation instead of relying solely on extrinsic motivators to define success.
Remotely Proctored Exams
- When students are taking exams remotely, proctoring can occur through the use of proctoring software, such as Proctorio. Last Spring (2020), Kent State students completed over 60,000 proctored online sessions. In order to complete an online proctored assessment, students will need a webcam with microphone, and a few other technical requirements.
- Offer a low-stakes quiz early in the semester for students to try out the system.
- Some students may have accommodations from SAS that will require additional discussions about proctoring options, some perhaps involving in-person proctoring.
- For more information, see Proctored Testing or contact email@example.com for further support.
However, proctored remote exams may require additional considerations:
- Being videotaped and recorded while taking a test can be even more stressful for students than in-person proctored exams and can have a negative impact on student performance.
- Faculty and students need to allocate some time for setting up the proctoring software and preparing their computer with video and audio capabilities.
- Remote proctored testing causes some student concerns about privacy. Consider reassuring students about the uses of recordings, privacy and data security.
- Proctoring software does not work with tablets not running Windows, macOS or Chrome OS.
Construction of Exams
- Consider the following aspects related to creating an exam in Blackboard.
- Create question pools in Blackboard and use random blocks or question sets to draw questions randomly from the question pool. Both of these options deliver questions randomly to students. For more information, see Blackboard Tests, Pools and Surveys or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Restrict the amount of time students have to take the exam. This limits the opportunity to look up answers, text one another, or use platforms such as Chegg, Course Hero, GroupMe, etc.
- Restrict the testing window (e.g., have all students start and end at the same time). Some challenges include students taking the exam from different time zones and the delays in starting exams using some proctoring software.
- Present questions one at a time to students and do not allow backtracking. If students cannot return to questions, there is less opportunity to cheat. Note: While this no-backtracking technique may deter cheating, it may also be a very unfamiliar approach to exam-taking for students. This may result in increased test anxiety and possible resentment toward instructors. If you elect to utilize this approach, consider explaining these mechanics prior to the exam. You are also strongly encouraged to include the same settings in your practice/low-stakes quiz early in the semester to increase familiarity with this approach.
- Delay score availability.
- Don’t use publisher test banks verbatim. Many are available with answers at cheating sites.
- Create a mixture of different types of questions, including short-answer questions. You may even want to consider having students submit answers as an assignment, which permits using Safe Assign to check for answers with significant overlap between students.
- Additional options for test creation:
- Create different versions of the test.
- Change test question sequence.
- Change answer order.
Alternatives to Exams
You should carefully consider whether you can incorporate alternative methods for assessing learning, that are much less likely to permit academic dishonesty. This will be much more challenging in some courses than others, due to discipline, prevalence of cheating sites and class size, among others. There are many ways to assess student learning outside of traditional exams. Several options include:
- Exams or assignments that require a greater degree of synthesis/analysis/creation.
- Assessment questions that are sufficiently unusual to prevent use of external cheating sites. For example, you might ask for a memoir from the perspective of a secreted protein such as insulin (birth, travels, work, death).
- Creative assignments (such as Adobe Spark pages, podcasts, video presentations, etc.).