Promoting integrity in online courses

COVID-19 has forced us all to rethink the ways that we teach and support our students. The transition from face-to-face teaching and learning to remote/online in the winter term was too rapid for many of us to make careful choices or polish the implementation of these choices. In preparation for the summer and fall terms, we may have a bit more time to think about how we can promote academic integrity in our future courses.

It is important to keep in mind that a culture of academic integrity can be fostered more effectively when we use several strategies or approaches in our teaching. We must also be aware that implementing too many ideas at one time may increase our own stress levels or add unnecessary stress levels to students. Stress is an important determinant of poor decision-making – for both instructors and students.

With these considerations in mind, you may wish to implement a few best practices to support academic integrity in your remote/online course.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.


General recommendations for promoting academic integrity

  1. Pay particular attention to how your course is structured (East & Donnelly, 2012). Are the objectives, learning activities, and assessment strategies aligned? Learn more about course alignment on The Centre’s Teaching Development resources page.
  2. Build and maintain honest, respectful, and trusting relationships with your students by staying in contact with them by emailing them regularly, and/or posting announcements, letters, or videos. Develop routines to build relationships with your students. Learn more here.
  3. Highlight the academic integrity policy (i.e., the University’s Student Discipline Bylaw and related Procedures, also found in the Academic Calendar) in the course shell and provide a list of behaviours that would be classified as academic misconduct in your course (Conway-Klaassen & Keil, 2020). Be clear about your expectations for your courses (Meizlish, 2003) and communicate to students that you expect them to make ethical decisions.
  4. Create assignments that require students to post questions and comments about academic integrity on a discussion board (WCET et al., 2009). Several ideas for relevant discussions can be found in the UM Learn course “Knowledge Nuggets: Bite-sized resources to help students help themselves.” Please contact Brenda.Stoesz@umanitoba.ca for access and details.
  5. Remind students that providing their UM Learn login information to anyone else is considered ‘personation’ – a very serious form of academic misconduct.
  6. Direct students to learning supports and academic integrity resources available at the University of Manitoba:
  • Successfully adapting to remote learning during COVID-19. This guide will provide students with strategies and resources for successfully completing their term during this uncertain and stressful time.
  • The Academic Learning Centre continues to provide academic supports during the COVID-19 pandemic. All Academic Learning Centre supports will be provided online until further notice, including individual tutoring (in writing, content study skills), Supplemental Instructions sessions, and workshops. Click here for more information.
  • Academic Advisors foster student academic success using an integrated system of developmental, holistic and proactive approach. Students are encouraged to reach out to academic advisors by phone or email.
  • UM Libraries is still open virtually to assist students.
  • The Student Accessibility Services office is currently accepting appointments by phone, email, and online.

Best practice recommendations for online quizzes, tests, and examinations in online courses

Preventing all cheating in online quizzes, tests, and examinations in remote/distance and online courses is impossible, but you can reduce the risk by implementing a variety of ideas (Conway-Klaassen & Keil, 2020; WCET et al., 2009; Williamson, 2018).

  1. Limit the availability of the quiz, test, or exam using restrictions in the UM Learn quiz tool.
  2. Set time limits for completion of the assessment that is based on the number of questions using the restrictions in the UM Learn quiz tool. Please keep in mind that some of your students will have accessibility requirements. Remind students to contact the Student Accessibility Services office to assist in arranging alternative or modified assessments.
  3. Create your own questions – this is key. If you feel you must use a test bank, edit each question and possible answers extensively so that they are different from the original. Test bank questions are readily found on file/note sharing websites, such as Quizlet and Course Hero.
  4. Create more questions than can be chosen at random for each student and randomize the order of the answers.
  5. Use a variety of question types (e.g., short and long answer, multiple-choice) that ask student to critically think and apply information rather than simply testing their recall ability.
  6. When writing multiple-choice questions, be sure to write wrong answer options that are plausible. Learn more about writing effective multiple-choice questions here.
  7. Create questions that have multiple correct answers.
  8. Show one question at a time.
  9. Disable right click and instant messages and alerts.
  10. Require forced completion; that is, once a student begins the assessment, they are required to finish it in one sitting.
  11. Limit the number of assessment attempts to one.
  12. Release quiz, test, and exam scores only when all students have completed the assessment.
  13. Allow open-book and open-notes quizzes, tests, and exams. It is difficult to prevent students from looking at their notes in unproctored or unmonitored settings, so this reduces some pressure and students are more likely to use approved rather than unapproved test-taking supports.
  14. Do not release graded quizzes, tests, or exams (i.e., the test questions with correct/incorrect answers), but do provide feedback to students about areas they should focus on for their next assessment.
  15. Offer a practice quiz, test, or exam. Your students will become acquainted with your assessment format. Doing so will help reduce students’ stress levels and help to ensure fairer assessment.
  16. Reduce the weight of exams relative to the overall grade of the course and increase the weight of other assessment types.
  17. Require students to agree to an honour statement. This can be included as the first question in a quiz, test, or exam. It serves as a reminder to make ethical choices. Please see the UM Learn course “Knowledge Nuggets: Bite-sized resources to help students help themselves” for examples. Please contact Brenda.Stoesz@umanitoba.ca for details and access.

To learn more about implementing the above strategies in UM Learn, please visit UM Learn and click on the Support Documentation button. Additional support can be found at Brightspace Tutorials.


Recommendations for assignments and online engagement

  1. Provide direct links to resources for writing and citing, such as those made available by UM Libraries.
  2. When appropriate, ask students to submit their reference articles or other supporting material with the text they cited highlighted (Meizlish, 2003).
  3. Compare the writing that students post on discussion boards with their other written work (Hill, 2010).
  4. Assign specific books or articles to be used for completing writing assignments (Hill, 2010).
  5. Check the file properties for the creation date and author for writing assignments.

Review copyright considerations as you move your courses online. Consult the Rapidly Shifting your In-Person Course to Online: Copyright Considerations guideline, and if you are uncertain whether you can use a resource or require assistance obtaining permission to use materials, contact the Copyright Office at um.copyright@umanitoba.ca. The Copyright Office is here to help find ways for you to access the resources you require for online course delivery. 

As the university transitions to remote teaching and learning, instructors must consider a variety of factors, from promoting academic integrity to selecting appropriate assessment strategies, as they develop/re-develop their courses. The time-sensitive nature of these preparations and the learning of new ways to deliver courses (i.e., technology) is challenging and requires (and has required) significant effort for you and for those supporting you in the process. We appreciate the work that you are doing to provide the best possible learning for our students during this unprecedented time.

While preparing course materials for the upcoming summer term, please consider the following:

  • Posting course materials:
    • Include citations for all work that you post and use in your course.
    • Manage your own copyright to your course notes, exams, presentation slides, and articles by:
      • Example: © YEAR. Electronic or hard copy distribution of this content in part or in whole is strictly prohibited without the written permission of NAME OF PROFESSOR.
      • OR choose a Creative Commons License that is right for you (https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/).
  • Promoting academic integrity along with copyright consideration:
    • Learn about copyright considerations when using or creating images in the module “Academic Integrity in the Visual and Spatial Arts”. The module can be accessed through:

Using copyright protected materials in online course delivery

Some good news: copyright law is flexible and supports teaching in all delivery formats (even online), but some different considerations may apply when teaching your course online.

Instructors are invited to join the Copyright Office’s hour long webinar to learn the basics of copyright in online course delivery, get your questions answered, and learn how to get support for your copyright questions.

Register for Copyright webinars at: https://eventscalendar.umanitoba.ca/site/fairpractices/


Do you have an academic integrity promotion strategy/approach that you would like to share?

If you have devised unique and effective ways to promote academic integrity and prevent academic misconduct in remote/online teaching and learning, we would love to hear from you. Contact Brenda.Stoesz@umanitoba to share your ideas and to be featured in the next issue of Show Your Integrity– a newsletter brought to by the UM Academic Integrity Advisory Committee.


References

Conway-Klaassen, J. M., & Keil, D. E. (2020). Discouraging academic dishonesty in online courses. Clinical Laboratory Science, 23, 194–200.

East, J., & Donnelly, L. (2012). Taking responsibility for academic integrity: A collaborative teaching and learning design. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 9(3), 1–11.

Hill, C. (2010). Promoting academic integrity in online education (Issue May). https://www.facultyfocus.com/free-reports/promoting-academic-integrity-in-online-education/

Meizlish, D. (2003). Promoting academic integrity in the classoom. In CRLT Occasional Papers (No. 20). http://www.crlt.umich.edu/sites/default/files/resource_files/CRLT_no20.pdf

WCET, UT TeleCampus, & Instructional Technology Council. (2009). Best practice strategies to promote academic integrity in online education, Version 2.0 (Issue June). www.wcet.info

Williamson, M. H. (2018). Online exams: The need for best practices and overcoming challenges. The Journal of Public and Professional Sociology, 10(1), Article 2. https://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1128&context=jpps

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