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Academic Integrity

Academic Dishonesty Prevention Strategies

It is important that instructors take steps to prevent academic dishonesty as they set up the class and develop each assignment.

Olivet University follows the guideline from the WCET's Best Practices to ensure the quality of its academic standards. Below are the summary of best practice strategies described in WCET's 2009 Institutional Policies/Practices and Course Design Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity in Online Education.

For more information on WCET's best practices, refer to the following link:

  • Include a statement that the instructor reserves the right to require alternative forms and/or locations of assessments (e.g., proctoring).
  • State whether the instructor/college will use a plagiarism detection service.
  • Use the settings on the college's learning management system to reduce cheating:
    • Use a test bank with more questions than will be used on any particular test and have the learning management system pull a smaller number of questions from the test bank.
    • Randomize the order of answers for multiple test questions so for example, the correct answer for a particular question might be "a" for one student and "b" for another.
    • Require forced completion on exams so students cannot re-enter a test.
    • Set a short window for testing completion, i.e. one or two days to take an exam rather than a whole week. Setting a completion time reduces a student's ability to access the test, look up the answer, and re-enter the test. Most test-taking software applications keep track of time on the server, not on the student's computer.
    • Password protect exams.
    • Show questions one at a time (makes more difficult for students to copy and paste the test in order to give it to someone else).
    • Use a Web browser lock-down service during testing.
    • Check the computer "properties" for the "creation date" and "author" for essay or term paper submissions if students are suspected of submitting work created by someone else.
  • State the academic integrity/academic honesty policy within the online learning environment and discuss it early in the course.
  • Require student engagement with the academic integrity policy. For example:
    • Ask students for their input on how to create a community of integrity at the start of the course. This establishes the students as stakeholders in the community and the process of its formation.
    • Develop and ask students to commit to a class honor code.Require students to read and sign an agreement to the campus academic integrity policy.
    • Write a letter to students about integrity and post it in the course.
    • Ask students to restate the academic integrity policy (this can also be used as a writing sample to use when grading and reviewing student work).
    • Ask students to reflect on the academic integrity policy in the discussion board.
    • Include a lesson on avoiding plagiarism.
  • Have assignments and activities in which appropriate sharing and collaboration is essential to successful completion. Foster a community of integrity by choosing authentic learning tasks that require group cohesiveness and effort. For example, focus assignments on distinctive, individual, and non- duplicative tasks or on what individual students self- identify as their personal learning needs.
  • Ask students follow-up questions to assignments such as, "expand upon this statement you made," "tell me why you chose this phrase, description or reference," and "expand upon the ideas behind this reference."
  • Select one or two difficult concepts from the paper and ask the student to restate/rewrite the information.
  • Require students to share key learning from references for a paper or self-reflection on an assignment in the discussion board.
  • Include an ethical decision-making case study within the course.
  • State how much collaboration is permissible on each assignment. Instructors are strongly encouraged to communicate expectations about what kinds of collaboration are acceptable within the course. Instructors should state in course syllabi their policies and procedures concerning examinations and other academic exercises as well as the use before examinations of shared study aids, examination files, and other related materials and forms of assistance.
  • State what the instructor's expectations are for the students and explain what they should expect from the instructor. For example:
    • Include a statement in the syllabus encouraging honest work.
    • Repeat the campus academic integrity statement and provide a link to campus policies.
    • Describe academic dishonesty.
    • Describe the repercussions for academic dishonesty.
    • Describe permissible and impermissible collaboration.
    • Include outside links to information on plagiarism, self-tests and examples.
    • Include information on acceptable sources.
    • Include information about the college's writing center, library or other support.
  • Indicate assessments may require follow-up documentation, questions or assignments.
  • State expectations for the time needed to complete coursework.
  • Provide rubrics, or detailed grading criteria, for every assignment at the beginning of the course so students understand how they will be graded.
  • Use Google to search for a unique text string or unique phrase from the paper.
  • Keep student papers filed in the department by topic for reference.
  • Clarify that students with disabilities and requesting testing accommodations (extended time for completion of examinations and quizzes) must identify themselves to the college's office of disabilities and provide appropriate documentation.
  • Change test items and assignment topics each quarter.
  • Emphasize assignments that require written work and problem solving (e.g., essays, papers, online discussions).
  • Use a variety of assessment strategies (quizzes, short and long papers, test questions that require the application of a theory or concept).
  • Adopt the following practices to encourage authentic written work:
    • Require students to turn in copies of reference articles with cited text highlighted.
    • Require annotated bibliographies.
    • Do not allow last minute changes in assignment topics.
    • Require specific references be used (this might be the course text).
    • Require an abstract.
    • Give narrow assignment topics (tied into class experience) and require thesis statements prior to topic approval.
    • Require students to turn in a draft, and their bibliography or references prior to the paper's due date.
    • Require students to write a concept paper and project plan prior to completing an assignment.
  • Evaluate the research process and the product.
  • After an assignment is due, have students post in the discussion board, describing the assignment and the research method used, a summary of conclusions and an abstract (a meta-learning essay).
  • When evaluating student written work, consider following these practices:
    • Be wary of student writing that reads like an encyclopedia, newspaper article or expert in the field.
    • Look for whether a paper reflects the assignment, has changes in tense, includes odd sentences within a well-written paper, is based on references older than three years, refers to past events as current, or uses jargon.
    • Compare student writing on the discussion board with that on assignments and papers. A writing sample collected at the start of the quarter can be helpful.
    • Compare the writing at the beginning and end of the paper with that in the middle of the paper -- language, sentence length and reading level.
    • Check references; compare quotations with cited sources; look for the same author in multiple references.
    • Read all papers on the same topic together.
  • Make assignments cumulative (students turn in parts of a project or paper throughout the quarter).
  • Give open book exams.
  • Other than grades, do not provide students feedback on tests until all of the students in the class have completed them.
  • Use proctored test sites where appropriate.
  • Faculty should use a robust user name and password to protect their computer-based grade book and keep a printed copy in a secure place in case students are able to hack into the computer system.