There are several ways to protect integrity in online instruction, from designing for integrity, to using tools like SafeAssign to check assignments for plagiarism and deploying proctoring tools to monitor exams.
Take a look at some best practices for protecting integrity in online assignments and exams. Be sure to review the UBNow article featuring the Office of Academic Integrity: Eight Tips for Faculty to Ensure Academic Integrity for Online Courses.
Faculty can design coursework in a way that can not only be effective for academic integrity, but can also be effective pedagogically. Students are known to cheat when:
Hello, this short presentation is on designing for integrity online. I am Loretta Frankovitch from the Office of Academic Integrity here at the University at Buffalo.
Dishonesty can help us learn how to become better teachers. Many faculty focus on the cheating student and cheating behavior, the end product so to speak. But there is literature to suggest that we can design better learning environments to begin with, which will both deter cheating and promote quality instruction. Lang offers five main reasons why students cheat: performance, high stakes, extrinsic motivation, low expectations and peer culture. We’re going to look at each specifically.
So, the first reason why students may cheat is there might be an emphasis on performance. So, the issue is potentially a single test or a very minimal number of assessments. So, when there is that case of a single test, students will do whatever it takes to succeed. Pressure produces cheating. So, some theory to kind of help us find a solution would be looking at mastery versus performance. Performance orientation emphasizes one product—the test or a project, something that the student does that is very small. It’s shallow surface level memorization of material. It also promotes test taking strategies rather than actually learning the material.
Mastery orientation, on the other hand, promotes deep learning, mastery of whatever you’re trying to teach. So, Anderson, Anderman and Murdock in 2006 said that students in performance-based courses cheat more often than students in mastery-oriented courses. So, the solution, therefore, is to offer multiple and varied opportunities for learning. Students should showcase their abilities and their knowledge using several forms of assessments—quizzes, tests, projects, papers, other forms of assessments.
Lastly, I’d like to mention the case of John Boyer at Virginia Tech. He’s a geography instructor who regularly has packed classes, over 2500 students each semester. And he makes his students “create their own fate,” that’s what he calls it. Everyone has to complete a certain number of activities they are not all tests, not all projects, not all papers. There is structure to the course itself, but there are options within the structure so that the student can earn points in their stronger areas. So, if you are a strong test taker you can take more tests; if you are a strong paper writer, you can write more papers. They still need to complete other assignments to earn a fair grade and they need, everyone needs, to touch on overall concepts that the faculty member deems important, so it is not just random point accumulation. It has proven to be very motivational for students.
So, the second reason ties very closely to the first one. This is high stakes riding on the outcome, so the issue is a large part of your grade coming from one or two tests. In 2008-2009, there was a scandal in Atlanta, over administrators altering test scores. You may remember. Students weren’t cheating in this instance, the administration was. They had jobs riding on the performance of their teachers so they altered the test grades of students. So, we can see that there were very high stakes involved. And we know that the higher the stakes on an exam, the more likely students are to cheat. So, the solution is to offer frequent, low-stake assessments—quizzes, short-answer, other activities. Stress retrieval and rehearsal gives students that chance to practice what they know over and over. If we want them to succeed eventually at high-stakes assessments, we have to build those skills frequently with low-stakes assessments.
The third reason students seem to cheat is they have an extrinsic motivation for success. The issue is they’re aiming for a grade, they’re aiming for the money involved in the degree that they are going to earn, or even potentially for the job that they are going to get after they’ve completed the test and their degree. If they’re aiming for that grade or that extrinsic motivation, they’re not enjoying the task itself or its utility. So, we need to encourage students to develop their own questions about big problems or challenges. Approach these issues from various perspectives. Let the students drive the discussion and the exploration rather than focusing the narrative for them, think more creatively. And then, how do these questions connect to their lives. How can they affect the student future, the student’s future? This type of learning not only follows best practices, but it reduces the incidences of cheating because they are questioning things that are relevant to them personally. Think about reflective essays.
And lastly, in order to reduce cheating, you should change things like time. Use a current article that sparks a debate. Or place, use a local community concern. It can be something very personal—how the concepts will affect each student personally. Or something interdisciplinary—how the concepts or questions might be affected by other disciplines that the students are studying. So, each change that you make, makes it difficult for the student to cheat and also makes it interesting for the student to pursue learning deeply. Students who are engaged in this type of learning don’t need or want to cheat.
Another reason why students cheat is that they have low expectations of success. They have no confidence, they’re under-prepared and sometimes they don’t believe that their professor is fair. So, they think that no matter what they do, the professor is against them and they end up cheating. One of the theories behind this, that might help us solve it, is about metacognition. So, metacognition is a student’s awareness of their own level of knowledge and understanding. So, if you have poor metacognition, a student will study for a short time and they feel that they know everything. Whereas, if you have good metacognition, the student studies for a short time and they realize that they’ve only just begun to study.
There is a 2003 study which looked at cheating in a physics course. And, it was found that as deadlines approached, the copying or cheating increased. Those who didn’t cheat had worked at regular intervals and did small pieces of their assignment over time, so they built their knowledge. But those who did cheat left everything until the last minute. So it shows poor time management but also very poor metacognition; they weren’t aware of how they needed to finish the assignment. So, the solution is to use formative assessments. Practice small activities that are important to the course, but build knowledge and skills incrementally. Test knowledge and offer feedback before you give a larger assessment. Build confidence in the material and in you as a fair teacher who gives them various opportunities to learn.
Lastly, the campus culture or peer culture surrounding cheating really does have a high impact on students eventually cheating or not. So, peer disapproval or approval of cheating is important to pay attention to.
In a seminal study from 1964 by Bowers, which has been replicated many times, Bowers showed that in a culture that very strongly disapproved of cheating, only 26% of students reported cheating. Yet those who felt their peers held very weak feelings regarding cheating reported about 71 percent of students as cheaters. So, that’s a huge difference. And, we want to pay attention to that. You don’t want the culture of dishonesty to become normative on campus. Therefore, we must speak about academic integrity and set an expectation that it is a fundamental university value. And even though we are currently in an online environment, we still want to stress the importance of acting with integrity no matter where or how the course is delivered.
Here are some references that were used throughout this presentation. And, I invite you to contact the Office of Academic Integrity if you have any further questions. Good luck.
Hello, my name is Kelly Ahuna and I am the director of the Office of Academic Integrity here at UB. I would like to talk to you for a few minutes about protecting integrity in online instruction. As UB moves to putting our instruction online for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester, it is important not to neglect the academic authenticity of the work you receive from students.
This short video will introduce you to some best practices for how to do just that.
Let us begin by talking about assignments. Like any assignment, this is a always a good opportunity for you to remind students about the value of academic integrity at UB and the importance of the authenticity of the work they turn in.
They won’t have you to orally, verbally explain this to them in class, but now it might be a good opportunity for you to write a statement about this value at the top of an assignment.
We know from research that reminders of academic integrity are good prompts to ensure that students are more likely to be honest in their academic efforts.
Another thing to think about is spelling out the boundaries of collaboration. Students are doing their work from wherever they might be now, and they might find it easier or more comfortable or more enjoyable to do work with others, so make sure you let them know what the limits of collaboration are for any given assignment.
In UBlearns, we have a very important tool called SafeAssign. You can find it in in the menu on the left-hand side under course tools, and this is an anti-plagiarism software. It is very easy to set up UBlearns to have all assignments that come in run through the SafeAssign. You will get a match report showing if any language the students have used is similar to a source, or another student or even the student’s own prior work.
There will be a resource slide at the end of this showing you the links to get information on SafeAssign.
And then another instructional opportunity here is to think about if you want all assignments to be the same. Can you offer some choice to students in what you want them to do to show evidence of their learning? If they have more options available to them and they are not all doing the same thing, that also decreases the likelihood that you’ll see copied work.
Let’s move on now to discuss quizzes and tests students will take in the online environment. Again, we want to always think about how we can ensure that students are completing these tasks with academic integrity.
So, the first thing to do is make sure you are clarifying test rules and any consequences of dishonesty. This is important to do in live exams and online exams. Again, you don’t have the opportunity to speak to them orally. So, you could always put a statement at the beginning of your test stating what your rules are and what consequences they should expect if they chose to behave in an academically dishonest way.
We also know from research that is helpful to have students begin an exam by signing a statement or checking a box that declares that they will complete the exam without any unauthorized assistance.
This is helpful because if they get to question number 15, for example, and they are thinking about maybe looking up an answer or doing something dishonest, that reminder is in the back of their mind and we know that for some students that will help them not make that bad decision.
When it comes to tools, we again at UB have good online tools already available to us in our Blackboard UBlearns system. So, we employ something called LockDown Browser. This is an excellent tool for you to use in an online test because what it does is it literally locks down the student’s computer so they cannot navigate to a website, take a screenshot, email a friend, do anything else except the test.
This again is available in the tools in your course menu on the left-hand side. It is very straightforward and easy to use. And there are directions, there are links to directions on the last resource slide of this show.
Additionally, we subscribe to something called Respondus Monitor. Respondus Monitor is a kind of artificial intelligence monitoring proctoring that happens during an exam or a test. So, you would turn this on through UBlearns again and when the students go to take their test they would be recorded basically with their behaviors. Any suspicious behaviors are flagged for you to look at. So, that could be a student standing up and walking away, it could be the student’s eyes being cast downwards for a very long time as though they were looking at something on their lap. It could be anything like that.
And then you go back through and you just look at flagged behaviors to see if there is anything you want to follow up on. Respondus Monitor markets themselves as a cheating prevention tool because just knowing, for students that they are going be sort of observed in their academic behaviors makes it less likely that they will cheat. I strongly encourage you to investigate these tools; they are easy to use and really go a long way in helping protect academic integrity.
Other things you can do include making your exams more unique. So just like a paper exam, you might make multiple versions, you can have multiple versions of online exams and you can do that fairly easily by making question pools in Blackboard, grouping questions by topic so that in any given test if you want students to answer 50 multiple choice questions and you have 100 in your pool it would randomly draw 50 for each student. So, that way you would be ensuring that no two students are taking the exact same test. Also, always a good idea to randomize questions as well as answers so that if students happen to be taking tests near each other they can’t talk about these things in real time.
Speaking of time, you can set time limits for how long you want them to have for each question. So, if you are concerned about students maybe looking up answers or doing, you know, having extra time to do something dishonest, you can set objective questions at 30 or 45 seconds, whatever you think would work; shorter answer questions at two minutes for example. But, that holds students accountable to a certain time limit so they cannot be doing, getting additional help during the test. It is always a good idea to mix up objective and subjective questions. You can have subjective questions in an online test, where students have to write answers or show their own work. And, another good thing about online testing is that you can detail when and how you want students to get feedback. So, the Center for Educational Innovation has excellent tools on their website for you to access to learn how to do all of these things and I have links to that on this last slide. But, truly this is a lot easier than it sounds and it really helps protect what we are trying to do around academic integrity.
And I’d like to insert some thoughts here about you protecting your own course materials. When you make everything publicly available on sites for students, sometimes they don’t understand ownership of those materials and they might think that they could share them out in any number of ways.
So, I would encourage you to make sure that you copyright all of your material, that is not hard to do, that requires you putting a C with a circle around it, your last name and the year on the bottom of any materials. The Academic Integrity website has really direct information on how to do that. I would encourage you to do that on the syllabus as well as on your materials. And in your syllabus or in any new written instructions you give to students, you might want to include a statement about your ownership of materials. Again, you can find language for that on the Academic Integrity website.
And lastly, you just want to make sure you expressly prohibit them sharing anything, because in this generation of sharing everything, sometimes students really don’t see the boundaries of that. So, I just want to make sure, if it is important to you that you protect the ownership of your work.
Finally, here are the resources I’ve been promising you. So, if you put this on slideshow mode you can click on any of these hyperlinks and it will take you to the Office of Academic Integrity website where we have an instructor information button that has lots of helpful information for you. There are two links here for SafeAssign, you can read about how SafeAssign works from our own UBlearns materials as well as from the vendor, which is Blackboard. And same thing for Respondus Monitor, you can read about Respondus Monitor works from our own website as well as from the vendor.
I wish you luck as we move forward. This is I know an exciting time for everyone. And from my vantage point as the director of the Office of Academic Integrity we don’t want to lose sight of as we move to online instruction.
SafeAssign is an anti-plagiarism software that you can run all incoming assignments and papers through in UBlearns. You will get an originality report showing you anywhere exact language has been matched to another source. This is an excellent aid in ensuring that your students are submitting their own work. Some additional best practices for protecting integrity in online assignments are:
Find more information about Respondus LockDown Browser, Respondus Monitor and Zoom on our Proctoring Tools page. Additionally, the Office of Curriculum, Assessment and Teaching Transformation at UB has compiled faculty recommendations and best practices for remote instruction from lessons learned in spring 2020.