Promoting Academic Honesty Online

Every semester we deal with questions like “how do you know the person enrolled in the course is the one taking the test?” The instructional designers in Humboldt State University’s College of eLearning & Extended Education often assist faculty  in developing a wide variety of assessment methods that can minimize cheating, promote academic integrity, and increase the interactivity and engagement in online courses. Some of the methods to reduce cheating and to promote academic honesty include:

Course Design

  • Include a simple academic honesty pledge “test” that says, “I understand my college’s academic honesty policy. All of the work I turn in is my own” with a link to the policy.
  • Include the academic policy in your syllabus quiz.
  • Discuss the importance of academic integrity to your discipline in a lecture.

Assessment Design

  • Give many short, low-stakes quizzes instead of a high-stakes mid-term and a final.
  • Make assessments depend on the preceding course work.
  • Pose higher order, mastery questions requiring deeper knowledge and application of material (see Bloom’s Taxonomy).
  • Have students relate subject matter their personal, professional, or life experiences.
  • Have answers relate to current events in the news.
  • Display test questions one at a time.
  • Use a question bank and have the test randomly created for each student attempt.
  • Limit the times when the online test is available.
  • Create a set duration of time for students to complete the test.
  • Estimate how long responses should take to answer if someone knows the material well.

Alternative Assessment Methods

  • Use online quizzes as self-assessment only
  • Use online quizzes as pre-testing at the start of a course
  • Short essays
  • Group or individual projects
  • Discussion forums – whole class and small groups that report out to a main discussion
  • Portfolios
  • Debates
  • Simulations
  • Contributions to collective information pools like wikis or blogs
  • Online “poster sessions” or presentations
  • Create a video or audio presentation
  • Role-playing
  • Interviews

Essay Assignments

  • Use (We suggest that this is used as a teaching tool and not a policing tool.)
  • Have students relate subject matter to their personal/professional/life experiences
  • Have essay subjects relate to current events in the news

I personally feel that project based learning and portfolio driven assessment remove all of these questions about academic honesty and provide a deeper level of engagement and assessment.

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