Assessment and academic integrity
Chapter seven in the ebook “Remote teaching: a practical guide with tools, tips, and techniques” contains some valuable information about remote teaching, assessment and how to deal with academic integrity issues.
*Remote teaching: a practical guide with tools, tips, and techniques is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.
Professional development opportunities
The Manitoba Academic Integrity Network (MAIN) at Assiniboine Community College is excited to present a series of professional development opportunities related to academic integrity. Registration links are found on the MAIN speaker series website. Please email Josh Seeland with any further questions.
A certificate of completion (PDF) will be emailed to those who complete all six sessions in this series.
The International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI) is an organization that was created to combat cheating, plagiarism, and academic dishonesty in higher education. ICAI offers assessment services, resources and consultations to its member institutions. They are offering a series of accessible webinars on a variety of topics related to academic integrity. For more information, please contact us.
Creating a culture of academic integrity
Start the academic integrity discussions early in your course and scaffold the conversation throughout the semester. Just like any learning, the discussion needs to be revisited, decontextualized and reimaged in different ways to help students to understand.
- Discuss with students during orientation the importance of integrity and what that looks like in your classroom
- Have students complete the Academic Integrity module and consider linking an assignment or reflection to its completion
- Include an academic integrity pledge statement in your syllabus and in Blackboard that students are required to sign
- Hold virtual hours so students can connect with you one on one
Building relationships with students not only helps to improve engagement and minimize cheating. It also helps to detect cheating when it occurs. Research shows that if a student feels disconnected or dissatisfied with the learning experience or their program, their relationship with other students or the teacher, they are more likely to cheat.
Robinson and Glanzer (2017) noted that dissatisfaction in the learning environment may occur if students perceive faculty as the “integrity police” (p.212). Students value a holistic approach to their studies and to academic integrity (Robinson and Glanzer, 2017). Additionally, faculty enthusiasm for the content and to the learning environment can help build trust and promote integrity (Orosz et.al, 2015).
- Consider an asked and answered section in blackboard. This can help students know what questions other students have had and minimize repeating the same answers to individuals.
- Act as a role model. Take the time to cite your own sources properly when providing course handouts and PowerPoint presentations. Consider a universal design for learning (UDL) approach to learning. Students learn in a variety of different ways, so consider the multiple means of representation you can provide.
Helping students understand academic integrity
Lack of knowledge
Talk to students about cheating and plagiarism and your expectations for ethical behaviour. Research shows that students cheat and plagiarize for the following reasons:
- They didn’t realize they were breaking the rules.
- Discuss academic integrity and your expectations at the start of the course and weave it throughout the semester, focusing on those busy assessment times like mid-semester or the end of the semester.
- They felt there were opportunities to cheat.
- Review your assessments. Can students Google the answers, or do your assessments require students to apply knowledge and understanding? Are your assessments authentic?
- They experienced a pressure to do well from a variety of sources like family or from a competitive desire to achieve a co-op.
- Consider the integrated course design model. Have you provided students opportunity to practise and fail as well as opportunities to be successful?
- They felt the teacher does not care and everyone else is getting away with it.
- Ensure you follow through with academic misconducts. Provide examples of what integrity looks like and what breaches look like and what the consequences are. Link to the college policies.
Review some ideas to talk to students about what cheating is and help them understand the consequences.
Your syllabus contains information about due dates for the various evaluations over the semester however time management continues to be a reason students feel pressured to make poor decisions around breaches of academic integrity. Telling them when things are due is not enough.
- Talk to students and post resources that may help them to complete assignments. The Georgian College Library offers excellent resources to support students and their study skills like semester planners, weekly planners and reading planners.
- Provide links to the various resources like the Writing Centre, Math Centre, Tutoring, or Research help.
- Build in checkpoints for assignments. Talk about assignment in your classes. Offer separate times for students to meet virtually with you, in groups, or individually to talk about the assignments.
- Break assignments into smaller pieces so they build to a larger assignment. This can help students stay on task and avoid the pressure to purchase an assignment.
Adapted from Humber College Teaching and Learning.
Scenario-based learning for academic integrity
It is a common and effective practice to contextualize academic integrity for students using clear and relevant cases that bring home the relevance and applicability of these principles in and beyond the classroom.
Choose scenarios that deal with the types of misconduct errors that are most concerning or relevant to the assessments in your course.
Better cases for lively discussion will:
- include acknowledgement of the pressures students can be under when they make bad decisions; and/or
- be open to interpretation to some degree, possibly with several variables or allowing for different perspectives or assessments of seriousness.
Some questions for digging deeper on academic misconduct cases include:
- What is another example, perhaps that is perplexing or ambiguous to you or others, that we could discuss next?
- What concerns you, as students, about these kinds of mistakes?
- What do you need from your instructor to avoid these mistakes on the assessments in this course?
- What are all the places, people or services that you and your classmates could go for help?
- Select the case(s). Options include:
- Provide students with several, ask them to choose the most interesting one;
- Assign each group with a different case; or
- Assign each group the same case.
- Divide students into small groups of three or four (or, if synchronous remote, do a quick random assignment to break out rooms)
- Provide guiding questions that explore interpretation, seriousness and/or surface ambiguity.
- Ask students to connect the breach of expectations in the case with definitions in the Academic Misconduct Regulations.
- Report out small group discussion (remote or not, this can be done using a shared document or another collaborative tool)
Conclude with a crystal-clear message about your rules for your specific assessments, why you have them in place, how students can ask for and get help, and what you will do if you suspect academic misconduct.
Note: It can help also at this point to acknowledge that student encounter wide-ranging teaching practices and approaches to matters of academic integrity and that this can provide a real mix of messages that become confusing.
- Case studies and guiding questions appear in the Encouraging Academic integrity Through a Preventative Framework by Anwar, Kalra, Ross, Smith and Vogel (2019), referenced at the bottom of this post.
- Brock University shares short cautionary tales, along with the right approach.
- Queen’s University shares these short and somewhat nuanced case studies, along with answers or interpretations for students.
- University of Alberta provides scenarios with answers that connect to their institutional policy.
- McGill University has some case studies for students to work through.
- Ryerson’s Academic Integrity Office offers short informative animated integrity videos (note, the quizzes require student log in).
- University of Alberta take an amusing approach in videos posted on this page. You might add these to a course page and your section on academic integrity rules for your assessments, or as an in-class discussion starter.
Adapted from the University of Saskatchewan.
Consider a syllabus statement
Academic integrity is a core value at Georgian College and a priority in all academic activities. Students are responsible for being aware of and demonstrating behaviour that is honest and ethical. Students are also expected to take responsibility for their own academic work, adhering to integrity standards for themselves and their program but also encouraging and cultivating a culture of integrity among their classmates.
Sample syllabus statement:
In circumstances where there is a concern about a breach of academic integrity, faculty may request an initial meeting to discuss these concerns with the student.
Honour pledges in the classroom
Introducing the idea of an honour code or honour pledge helps students to understand and make a commitment to academic integrity. This can support your discussion around the rules and procedures around citing sources and not engaging in practices of dishonesty. If the students co-develop the pledge, it can also create a sense of community and support students to have conversations between their classmates about academic integrity.
Engage your class in a discussion about the purposes and values of education. Start with an open question like:
- What is Integrity and why is integrity important?
- What values do you think Georgian College should uphold to achieve academic integrity?
Develop a shared list of values using a collaborative document like Microsoft Word or Poll Everywhere. This list will vary according to what comes up in discussion. However, some examples include:
You might encourage discussion of how these values translate into the program or workplace.
Connect those values with the practices of academic honesty. You can use the Academic Integrity module to connect the values of education and fairness as follows:
- Education: Cheating threatens education because students who cheat do not participate in the experiences which lead to intellectual growth. Also, those who choose to cheat in school are more likely to cheat in the workplace.
- Fairness: As part of the educational process, students receive grades for the work of the course. It’s important that students be judged fairly—not only in reference to other students but also in terms that reflect their real abilities and skills. Employers want to know students are competent.
For more ideas and resources about academic integrity pledges, visit The University of British Columbia website.
Academic Integrity module
Fostering academic integrity is key responsibility for faculty and it is important to introduce the principles of academic integrity early in your course. The Academic Integrity module is designed at an introductory level to support first semester students understanding of academic integrity at Georgian College.
There are three parts to the module:
- Academic integrity
In each section, students are expected to review the material and complete each accountability task (quiz at an 80 per cent success rate). Students are able to repeat the task until they are successful. Each part should take no longer than 45 minutes to complete.
Visit the employee portal and navigate to the Vice President Academic (VPA) page . Here, you can find a link to launch the preview module. The AIM Faculty Preview module is available for faculty who wish to review the AIM modules and complete the activities in the same manner as the students. There is no completion tracking with this preview module.
Faculty frequently asked questions (FAQs)
The AIM has been updated for fall 2021 to provide content and context for students learning remotely, online and in person. The module includes information about copyright information, contract cheating and course sharing sites and can be viewed by faculty on the VPA page in the employee portal.
All semester one students are required to complete the module. The AIM module will automatically appear as a separate course on the Blackboard My courses screen for all students. Faculty are not required to take any additional steps. Faculty, co-ordinators and administrators will be able to track completions using the AIM Blackboard report. Students can receive more information in the student portal.
Ideally, the module should be completed in the first two weeks of classes to support student understanding about the topic of academic integrity, academic regulations and expectations at Georgian College.
Faculty and administrators can track student completions of the AIM through the AIM Blackboard report.
If you have any further questions or concerns about the AIM modules, please email [email protected].
What is contract cheating?
Contract cheating is when a student commissions or seeks a third party (either paid or unpaid) to complete academic work on the student’s behalf for academic credit.
Some examples include:
- purchasing an assignment from an online site
- e.g. Chegg, course Hero, FIVVER or other online platforms
- an online company specializing in producing work for a fee for students
- an unauthorized editing service advertised via social media or on campus
- another student or non-student who has offered to help
- participating in unauthorized discussion groups or sharing answers to an assignment on file sharing sites or even social media sites like Facebook or WeChat
Academic file sharing websites
With an easy Google search, you will find several course and file sharing websites that market themselves as homework helpers or study resources, or claim to facilitate peer tutoring. Some of the more common ones are CHEGG, Course Hero, OneClass, and StuDocu. They all provide an online space for students to upload assignments or course work as well as handouts and slides.
It is implied that students are to share only their work. However, students are also posting materials provided by their instructors or sharing their previous assignments and tests. Course materials like licensed case studies, articles, and book chapters, as well as handouts and slides that are created by faculty, and slides that have been provided by the publisher of a textbook, are the intellectual property of the respective copyright owners. Course materials are provided to students for their individual use for the purposes of their own education, private study, criticism, and review. The sharing course materials by students with other people is prohibited and can result in penalties for academic misconduct as well as academic rights and responsibilities.
These file-sharing websites often solicit students through social media and emails, encouraging them to upload materials in order to access other materials or even provide monetary reward for students to post content that would increase user visits to these sites.
Raising student awareness
It is helpful to educate students on the ethical and legal uses of your course materials. We often ask students to work in groups and work with other students, but it can be confusing as to what is acceptable or unacceptable around sharing of resources and files. Education may help prevent students from posting course materials on the internet. Below are some strategies.
- At the start of a term, mention to your students that the course materials provided by you or posted in Blackboard are for their individual educational use and should not be shared on the internet or externally.
- Incorporate the Academic Integrity module into your assessments or link them to our professional practices.
- Communicate the expectations from you, the instructor.
- Help students to understand by making it an ongoing conversation throughout the semester, not just at the beginning.
- Consider using an honour pledge.
Add the copyright symbol, your name and date that you created the material. You may also include a statement to clarify what students can and cannot do with your material. Here is a suggested statement:
“The materials provided in class and in Blackboard are protected by copyright. They are intended for the personal, educational uses of students in this course and should not be shared externally or on websites such as Course Hero or OneClass. Unauthorized distribution may result in copyright infringement and violation of Georgian College policies.”
In addition to seeking coursework help from you and other professors, refer students to Georgian College student services for research and citation help, tutoring and learning centre for learning support.
How to detect contract cheating
- Get to know your students.
- Be familiar with student writing.
- Look for discrepancies in references.
- Use Turnitin.
- Include a face-to-face component to discuss the details of their work:
- e.g. how the student undertook the work or how the student chose references.
- See if the student understands both the assignment and the content of the work submitted.
Raising faculty awareness
- Ensure the program team is on the same page.
- Have conversations around academic integrity as a team.
- Share examples to help with understanding.
- Collectively support academic honesty.
- Include a syllabus statement like the following:
- In circumstances where there is a concern about a breach of academic integrity, faculty may request an initial meeting to discuss these concerns with the student.
Better Business Bureau. (2021, April 2). BBB Scam Alert: Cheating on homework leads to extortion scam. https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/24032-bbb-scam-alert-students-hire-homework-help-and-end-up-in-extortion-con.
Eaton, S. E. (2021, June 22). Contract Cheating in Canada: How it Started and How it’s Going. Paper presented at the Canadian Symposium on Academic Integrity (CSAI) 2021 (Online), Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, BC, Canada. http://hdl.handle.net/1880/113525.
Grue, D., Eaton, S. E., & Boisvert, S. (2021). Parallels Between the Contract Cheating Industry and Organized Crime. http://hdl.handle.net/1880/113323.
Podcasts and additional resources
The Score Podcast
The Score Podcast: Exploring issues of academic integrity.
Check out the trailer and view recent episodes!
Teaching in Higher Ed podcasts
Episode 19: Cheating Lessons
Catching a student cheating can evoke all sorts of feelings, such as frustration, disappointment, anger or ambivalence.
In episode 19 of Teaching in Higher Ed, Dr. James M. Lang talks about lessons learned from cheating.
Episode 157: Promoting Academic Integrity
Phil Newton talks about promoting academic integrity on episode 157 of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast.
Hughes, C, and McCabe, D.(2006) Academic misconduct within higher education in Canada. Journal of Higher Education. 36(2): 1-21.
Lang, J. (2015, May 4). Cheating Inadvertently. The Chronicle of Higher Education: Advice. Retrieved from http://www.chronicle.com/article/Cheating-Inadvertently/229883/
Miron, J., & Fenning, K. (2018). Academic integrity pledges—Acculturating students to integrity within Canadian higher education. Canadian Perspectives on Academic Integrity, 1(2), 46-57. DOI: https://doi.org/10.11575/cpai.v1i2.56983
Mundy, T., Murray, K., Tubridy, K., & Littrich, J. (2020). The role of a law student pledge in shaping positive professional ethical identities: A case study from Australia. International Journal of the Legal Profession. https://doi.org/10.1080/09695958.2020.1749638
Robinson, J. A., & Glanzer, P. L. (2017). Building a culture of academic integrity: What students perceive and need. College Student Journal, 51(2), 209.