Preventing Academic Integrity Violations in a Remote Environment
– a Resource for Rutgers–New Brunswick Faculty
Resources for Faculty
While the incentive to cheat exists, establishing a culture and expectation in higher education around the purpose of testing and assessment that incorporates the impact of academic dishonesty is imperative. Acquisition of knowledge is the goal; college is not simply a transactional experience. Instructors must openly communicate to students about when and how learning happens, so they take ownership of their education.
- Online/Remote Course Design
Rutgers has a number of resources available to help instructors with designing courses in the remote environment.
- Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT)
- Instructional Design: TLT can assist with designing courses to be online. Website includes video tutorials for assorted online teaching tools.
- Training Opportunities: Information about resources to support faculty teaching, including workshops, webinars, video tutorials, how-to and self-help webpages.
- School of Arts and Sciences Office of Undergraduate Education
- Teaching and Learning team offers a variety of workshops, trainings and other events related to remote teaching. They also provide useful online resources through the Keep Teaching: Continuity of Instruction webpage, including Strategies for Remote Instruction and Tools and Documentation.
- Teaching Checklist (PDF): Lots of tips to help faculty prepare to teach online including examples and lots of detailed information; how to use an LMS (Sakai, Canvas); how to use Gradebook; and pedagogical suggestions.
- Asynchronous Engagement: Tips for providing flexibility without losing student engagement, and advice on forging connections in an asynchronous course and for making your online class more accessible.
- Rutgers IT Remote Instruction Knowledge Base provides information on planning remote instruction and the importance of communication with your students.
- How to Use Zoom in an Online Class: Excellent video tutorial on using Zoom in your online class for giving exams online.
- Coronavirus: 14 simple tips for better online teaching (TheConversation.com article, March 16, 2020)
- Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT)
- Providing Accommodations Remotely
Preventing & Detecting Academic Dishonesty
- Assessment Design
An important strategic consideration in designing trustworthy assessments is to reduce the value of sharing answers and using unauthorized material.
- Remote Exams: Good advice on how to write an exam that will be given online, information about proctored exams, and alternatives to proctored exams
- How to write an exam that is resistant to online answer-sharing: watch a video or read a PDF
- Indiana University of Bloomington resources
- University of Maryland resources
- Assessments should be frequent and low-stakes.
- Consider making exams open book and open notes.
- Questions should be designed to be difficult to look up on the internet.
- For STEM classes, this often means asking students to explain things rather than to calculate things (e.g., "explain what 2^5 means" instead of "calculate the value of 2^5").
- For liberal arts and humanities, it often means asking for analysis rather than basic facts (e.g., "Explain how performing on radio would prevent some of the staging difficulties in a production of Peer Gynt" instead of "Name three plays by Henrik Ibsen").
- Use many different versions of each question to complicate sharing of answers.
- Include an honor pledge item on online assessments, listed as
I agree/I disagree answer choices can likely improve accountability, as well as convey testing etiquette.
- Consider writing questions that are specific to the way you have taught the material, so that assistance from outside sources is unlikely to be helpful.
- If giving a long exam, consider breaking it into smaller timed chunks, with students not allowed to return to a section, once completed.
- Include deeply embedded notices stating that your material is copyrighted and is part of an exam; these notices make it more difficult for students to share the questions on public web sites.
- Include unusual terms in your questions. Such terms make it easier to find the material online in case deterrence efforts fail and you must resort to the discipline process.
- Giving more, lower value quizzes can address many of the concerns instructors have with cheating. Another exam strategy is to pull a random set of question from a large pool of questions. This "pool" strategy is available in Sakai and Canvas. Said differently, a different assessment strategy might be more effective than a technology solution.
- Syllabus Design
While we know that most students don't cheat or violate academic integrity knowingly, we recommend using the suggested language below, as appropriate for your course, to promote a culture of highest academic integrity. Making a video and posting it on your course LMS has also been shown to be a useful tool in promoting academic integrity. It's important that academic integrity is prominent on your LMS. It has also been proven effective to reemphasize your stance on academic integrity throughout the course
Inform students that they will need to sign the Rutgers Honor Pledge on every major exam assignment as follows:
The Rutgers honor pledge will be included on all (major) assessments for you to sign:
On my honor, I have neither received nor given any unauthorized assistance on this examination (assignment).
Promoting a Culture of Academic Integrity
Below are suggested paragraphs to include to promote a culture of academic integrity. The recommended options that follow help ensure that students are aware of the academic integrity policy and that those who violate it will be held accountable.
Option from the Office of Student Conduct
Rutgers University takes academic dishonesty very seriously. By enrolling in this course, you assume responsibility for familiarizing yourself with the Academic Integrity Policy and the possible penalties (including suspension and expulsion) for violating the policy. As per the policy, all suspected violations will be reported to the Office of Student Conduct. Academic dishonesty includes (but is not limited to):
- Aiding others in committing a violation or allowing others to use your work
- Failure to cite sources correctly
- Using another person's ideas or words without attribution–reusing a previous assignment
- Unauthorized collaboration
- Sabotaging another student's work in doubt, please consult the instructor
Please review the Academic Integrity Policy.
Students are expected to maintain the highest level of academic integrity. You should be familiar with the university policy on academic integrity. Violations will be reported and enforced according to this policy.
Use of external website resources such as Chegg.com or others to obtain solutions to homework assignments, quizzes, or exams is cheating and a violation of the University Academic Integrity Policy. Cheating in the course may result in grade penalties, disciplinary sanctions or educational sanctions. Posting homework assignments, or exams, to external sites without the instructor's permission may be a violation of copyright and may constitute the facilitation of dishonesty, which may result in the same penalties as plain cheating.
Protecting Intellectual Property of Students and Instructors
Many students do not realize that they infringe on the intellectual property rights of instructors or fellow students. Below is suggested language to include to deter such practices.
Almost all original work is the intellectual property of its authors. These works may include syllabi, lecture slides, recorded lectures, homework problems, exams, and other materials, in either printed or electronic form. The authors may hold copyrights in these works, which are protected by U.S. statutes. Copying this work or posting it online without the permission of the author may violate the author's rights. More importantly, these works are the product of the author's efforts; respect for these efforts and for the author's intellectual property rights is an important value that members of the university community take seriously.
For more instructions on copyright protections at Rutgers University, please refer to the Rutgers University Libraries.
Resources for Students
Sharing this academic integrity resource page with your students will give them access to many valuable resources.
- Detecting Academic Dishonesty
TurnItIn is a tool that detects plagiarism in papers and lab reports.
ProctorTrack is one available tool to reduce cheating; whether you choose to use it or not, to make assessments trustworthy, it should not be your only strategy.
- Designing Trustworthy Assessments without Proctoring (PDF) This article from Georgia Tech provides a clear discussion of how to design trustworthy assessments.
- A discussion about using online proctoring from Inside Higher Ed.
- Benefits of Using Online Proctoring
- Possibility that students would be more likely to cheat in an unproctored environment.
- Online monitoring systems "level the playing field" for all students.
- Camera feature that lets students know they are being observed.
- Fosters confidence that cheaters will not "ruin the curve" for honest students.
- System does not accuse the student of cheating. Faculty can review the video and determine clear evidence of cheating before filing a report.
- System can be set to different levels of sensitivity, which reduces the work required to review flagged incidents.
- Can be used with Canvas or Sakai quizzes, Pearson’s MyLab system, or any other system that administers test online.
- Keeps a long-term record that faculty can easily access.
- Automatically proctors the majority of students
- Concerns About Using Online Proctoring
- All students do not have the same resources at home or in their remote learning environment. This could result in connections complications or needing to share a computer with family members.
- Increases student stress and anxiety on exam days.
- Given the breadth of the socio-economic circumstances of Rutgers undergraduates, the exam-taking "playing field" cannot be leveled. There are students who share computers with siblings and parents. In many cases, exams are taken at the kitchen table. Old routers and slower internet connections further complicate the ability of some students to meet the technology bar seamlessly.
- Possible technical issues could occur during the exam time and accidentally flag a student that was not cheating.
- Online proctoring systems are not perfect. They are designed to catch certain behaviors. Possibility of false positives for students trying to work out answers to test questions.
- ProctorTrack might also fail to identify other behaviors that you may well believe is indicative of cheating ("false negative").
- Time consuming process for faculty to review student videos on issues that the ProctorTrack algorithm identified.
- Instructors using ProctorTrack must decide how many resources (i.e., TA time) they can and are willing to devote to the ex-post monitoring.
How-to PDF guide for using ProctorTrack with Canvas by Professor Matt Charnley.
An easy method to see if your exam questions have been posted to an answer-sharing site is to type one of your exam questions into Google.
Reporting & Adjudicating Academic Integrity Violations
- Honor Pledge
In order to create a strong culture that promotes academic integrity, Rutgers has adopted an honor pledge to be written and signed on examinations and major course assignments submitted for grading. The university now asks that faculty include the following statement for students to sign on all exams and major assignments:
On my honor, I have neither received nor given any unauthorized assistance on this examination (assignment)
There is additional benefit to having the student's write it out themselves and sign it. For a discussion of the value and history of honor pledges as they have been used at other universities, visit the University of Maryland and Princeton University websites.
- How to Report an Academic Integrity Violation
If you have any questions about the Academic Integrity process, please contact the Office of Student Conduct via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 848-932-9414 to leave a voicemail and someone will return your call.