Academic Integrity

For definitions, policies, and additional assistance visit the institutional academic integrity website.

Academic Integrity in the online learning environment

The current body of research reports quite conclusively the perception among faculty and students that dishonesty is more prevalent in the online learning environment. There is, however, only conflicting evidence to support that this is true in practice.

Whatever the case, issues of academic integrity ought to be considered during the design, delivery, and redesign of courses, in particular those with an online component. Based on the selected research listed below, the following strategies will be helpful to instructors.

  • An instructor that is actively contributing to course communications, offering meaningful feedback on assignments, and is responsive to student inquiries will be perceived as “with it”.
  • In particular, take advantage of your ability to offer speedy and frequent feedback via online learning platforms — this activity will build the confidence of your students.
  • Establish clear expectations related to academic integrity: if collaboration during assignments or testing is not permitted, state this in the course’s outline as well as within the description of the test.
  • Closely monitoring student progress will allow you to perceive sudden changes in behaviour or writing style.
  • If monitoring for academic integrity is occurring or has occurred in past offerings of the course, be sure to communicate this to students — this knowledge in itself is a proven deterrent. Also, and if appropriate, allow previous detections to serve as a learning opportunity.
  • Remaining deeply involved with course activities will provide an opportunity to see how course content can be adjusted in future course offerings.
  • Know that, in general, the likelihood of dishonesty is highest among students in first-year studies.
  • Don’t rely too heavily on technology to police, as savvy students are often a step ahead;
  • Assume that students writing tests in unproctored environments will have all possible resources at their disposal;
  • Assess using a multitude of formats that test critical understanding and application of course material based on personal experience or context;
  • Assess frequently to offer regular opportunities for feedback and to make it difficult for students to arrange for another to complete tests on their behalf;
  • Randomize question assignment using large question banks, particularly in the case of multiple choice- or true/false-heavy tests; and
  • Regularly revise assessment content.
  • Assume that collaboration will occur: find ways to integrate it effectively in course design, but be mindful that some students have enrolled in a distance courses specifically to avoid working in groups; and
  • If appropriate, assign large projects in stages to provide an opportunity to determine the provenance of student work as it evolves and helps to avoid desperation caused by procrastination.