Protecting Integrity in Online Instruction

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.

Designing for Integrity Online

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:

  • Grades ride on a single performance (one test, one project). Therefore, create several smaller opportunities for learning over time.
  • Each grade is high stakes (one test is a significant portion of the grade). Again, if there are multiple assessments, each can be a smaller portion of the grade. No single assessment carries great weight.
  • Students seek extrinsic motivation, like a grade or a degree, rather than enjoying the learning process itself. Be creative in allowing students to fulfill course requirements in ways that are meaningful to them.
  • There are low expectations to pass and they have little confidence in themselves. Utilize incremental learning opportunities to build their confidence and set high expectations.
  • Students perceive others are cheating around them. Establish clear policy and reinforce throughout the semester. 

Best Practices for Online Assignments

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:

  • Remind students of UB’s academic integrity policy.
  • Be very specific about the limits of collaboration in your course.
  • Give students options for assignments (e.g., write a paper, tape a speech, design a political cartoon) so not all students are completing the same task.

Best Practices for Online Exams

  • Clarify testing rules.
  • Have students sign an honesty statement prior to being allowed to see the test.
  • Use Lockdown Browser to minimize external help.
  • Employ online proctoring options (e.g., Respondus Monitor, ProctorU).
  • Use question pools so no two exams are alike.
  • Change small details in questions in later exams.
  • Randomize questions and answers.
  • Set a time limit for the exam.
  • Allow students to view only one question at a time.
  • Mix objective and subjective test questions.Require the student to show work.
  • Limit feedback (i.e., don’t show correct answers until all exams are completed).

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.