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Designing Assessments that Promote Academic Integrity

  1. 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.  
  2. 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.  
  3. Require forced completion on exams so students cannot re-enter a test.  
  4. 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. 
  5. Password protect exams.  
  6. Show questions one at a time (makes it more difficult for students to copy and paste the test in order to give it to someone else). 
  7. Use a Web browser lock-down service during testing. 
  8. 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. 

This list of best practice strategies is based on “Institutional Policies/Practices and Course Design Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity in Online Education,” produced by WCET in February 2009 and updated in April 2009. In May 2009, the Instructional Technology Council (ITC) surveyed its membership to invite feedback and additional strategies to enhance the WCET work. This June 2009 document reflects the combined contributions of WCET, the UT TeleCampus of the University of Texas System, and ITC. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States license. 

For more information how to write effective multiple-choice questions explore:

STEM and other quantitative courses face a particular challenge in creating effective online exams, in part because it’s so easy to cheat and in part because so many questions are computational. Ask more conceptual questions (e.g., “what is the next step in this problem?”, “state the definition of…”, “explain why this hypothesis in the theorem is necessary”).

  • Ask students to identify an error in a proof or computation (this is particularly effective since it can’t be googled).
  • Eliminate multiple-choice and fill-in questions in favor of show-all-work questions where students have to scan and upload their work.
  • If using problems from a textbook, change not only the numbers but also the names (e.g., John to Alice) and the scenario (e.g., pulling a boat in to letting a kite string out). The reason for this is that popular textbooks will probably have many of their problems already solved online somewhere, for example, on Chegg.
  • Use letters and variables in place of specific numbers.
  • When randomizing the exam, don’t just randomize numbers. Also randomize discrete parts of the problem. For instance, one version might have a problem like “maximize the volume of the box given its surface area” whereas another version might have “minimize the surface area of a box given its volume”. (The numbers can even be the same for the two versions.)
  • Avoid questions that consist of only simple computations. For example, instead of “calculate this integral”, present students with some application in which they also have to set up a proper integral. “Write an integral expression that is equal to the probability that…” or “write a triple integral which is equal to the mass of the region” are good alternatives. There are online calculators that will not only solve many computational problems, but also give step by step solutions. Adding more words and applications to a problem makes it more difficult to cheat and also tests the real learning goal: do students know how to apply basic principles? (Ultimately, anyone can use a calculator, but only if you know what you want to calculate.)

Adapted from Rutgers University Tips for Exams and Alternative Assessments , Joe Guadagni, Mathematics department and Karen Harris, Instructional Designer.

  1. Series of quizzes: offer a low-stakes opportunity for students to demonstrate mastery of material, and give you ongoing information about student understanding. Frequent quizzing has also been shown to reinforce student understanding. Both Canvas and Sakai can randomize questions in quizzes, making cheating more difficult.
  2. Student-developed quiz questions: writing quiz questions both builds and demonstrates students’ understanding of the material. This assignment can be structured as a collaborative group activity.
  3. Open-book, take-home assessments: many disciplines already have a tradition of take-home exams, typically involving more conceptual or applied questions that students cannot quickly look up in a textbook.
  4. Professional presentations or demonstrations: students can create audiovisual presentations using a variety of media, powerpoint, prezi, and other tools.
  5. Annotated anthology or bibliography: this project gives students choice in selecting works while assessing their higher-order abilities to evaluate sources, compare multiple perspectives, and provide rationales for their choices.
  6. Fact sheet: students create a one-page fact sheet on a topic. Students must select relevant facts and explain them clearly and concisely.
  7. Peer- and self-review activity: these allow for personal reflection on learning and peer-to-peer instruction, both of which reinforce and deepen understanding. Students do need instruction in the task of providing constructive feedback. Targeted rubrics laying out expectations for student work are very helpful.
  8. E-Portfolio: a student-selected portfolio of work from the semester. Students compile their best or representative work from the semester, writing a critical introduction to the portfolio and a brief introduction to each piece.
  9. Non-Traditional Paper or Project: creative assignments work best when they have some “real-world” relevance and offer students some choice in delivery format.
  10. Group Project: group projects require students to demonstrate mastery of subject matter and develop their ability to communicate and work collaboratively. It is crucial to make your assessment criteria and grading scheme clear, and to ensure that there are clear, explicit expectations for each team member.

Adapted from Rutgers University Tips for Exams and Alternative Assessments , Karen Harris, Instructional Designer

  1. Require students to turn in copies of reference articles with cited text highlighted. 
  2. Require annotated bibliographies. 
  3. Do not allow last minute changes in assignment topics. 
  4. Require specific references be used (this might be the course text). 
  5. Require an abstract. 
  6. Give narrow assignment topics (tied into class experience) and require thesis statements prior to topic approval. 
  7. Require students to turn in a draft, and their bibliography or references prior to the paper’s due date. 
  8. Require students to write a concept paper and project plan prior to completing an assignment.

This list of best practice strategies is based on “Institutional Policies/Practices and Course Design Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity in Online Education,” produced by WCET in February 2009 and updated in April 2009. In May 2009, the Instructional Technology Council (ITC) surveyed its membership to invite feedback and additional strategies to enhance the WCET work. This June 2009 document reflects the combined contributions of WCET, the UT TeleCampus of the University of Texas System, and ITC. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States license. 

Designing good assessments begins with identifying appropriate learning outcomes. Verbs are key to writing successful learning outcomes. You want to choose assignments that show whether students have met the learning outcomes. This may mean assessing concepts in ways that are new to you or focusing on broader skills and concepts rather than specific details. The following breakdown using Bloom’s Taxonomy verbs should help guide you in choosing a variety of assessments that measure your learning outcomes.

Remember

Ask students to:

  • Recall or recognize terms, theories, events etc. Using fill in the blank or multiple-choice questions
  • Label diagrams either on paper and submit a photo, or by downloading an image they can easily label by adding text boxes in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint and reupload as a file

Understand

Ask students to:

  • Summarize course materials
  • Compare theories, systems, etc.
  • Organize or classify events, terms, or examples using disciplinary criteria
  • Find and explain their own example of a course concept

Apply

Ask students to:

  • Apply a theory or process to an application
  • Select the theory, equation, or procedure that best applies to a problem
  • View individual steps of a procedure in video or pictures and describe what should happen next
  • Complete a simulation activity embedded into a Folio quiz question that approximates a lab or field experience. Ask students to describe what they chose or implemented at different steps of the process. There are open-access resources available for simulations in a variety of disciplines

Analyze

Ask students to:

  • Describe cause-and-effect relationships in a case study or demonstration
  • Apply a theory or process to an application
  • Select relevant information from a complex example
  • Explain how multiple elements interact or work in conjunction
  • Identify potential bias, values or underlying intent in presented materials

Evaluate

Ask students to:

  • Judge or critique readings, performances, or products using disciplinary criteria
  • Check materials, methods, or conclusions against a known standard or the processes and procedures they have used in class themselves

Create

Ask students to:

  • Research a topic and create a presentation or writing with key points and conclusions
  • Create performance art compositions or performances that can be notated or recorded using devices, locations, and equipment available to students
  • Write an essay, business plan, or recommendations for stakeholders or another authentic audience instead of a traditional research paper
  • Create a media project relevant to the learning they completed in the course

Adapted from the Ohio State University Office of Distance Education and eLearning Resource Center

Technology affords instructors many options to create authentic learning and assessment. The taxonomy below guides faculty in choosing non-traditional options when designing assignments/assessments.

Bloom’s Digital

Image Credit: Ron Carranza | Integrating Technology – Bloom’s Taxonomy

1. Provide rubrics, or detailed grading criteria, for every assignment at the beginning of the course so students understand how they will be graded. 

2. Train faculty on ways to use the settings on the college’s learning management system to reduce cheating. (see question: What are recommended best practices for online multiple choice exams?)

3. 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. 

4. Change test items and assignment topics each semester.

5. Emphasize assignments that require written work and problem solving (e.g., essays, papers, online discussions). 

6. Use a variety of assessment strategies (quizzes, short and long papers, test questions that require the application of a theory or concept). 

7. Adopt practices to encourage authentic written work (see question:What practices encourage authentic work?)

8. Evaluate the research process and the product. 

9. 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). 

10. When evaluating student written work, consider following these practices:

  • a. Be wary of student writing that reads like an encyclopedia, newspaper article or expert in the field. 
  • b. 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. 
  • c. Compare student writing on the discussion board with that on assignments and papers. A writing sample collected at the start of the semester can be helpful. 
  • d. 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. 
  • e. Check references; compare quotations with cited sources; look for the same author in multiple references. 
  • f. Read all papers on the same topic together

11. Make assignments cumulative (students turn in parts of a project or paper throughout the semester). 

12. Give open book exams. More on open book exams in this blog post.

13. Other than grades, do not provide students feedback on tests until all of the students in the class have completed them.

This list of best practice strategies is based on “Institutional Policies/Practices and Course Design Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity in Online Education,” produced by WCET in February 2009 and updated in April 2009. In May 2009, the Instructional Technology Council (ITC) surveyed its membership to invite feedback and additional strategies to enhance the WCET work. This June 2009 document reflects the combined contributions of WCET, the UT TeleCampus of the University of Texas System, and ITC. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States license.

  1. Set and communicate clear expectations—provide explicit training on academic integrity, ensure understanding of expectations and instruction
  2. Lower anxiety and pressure—offer students options, voices and choices, lower time pressure, lower grade anxiety, lower communication anxiety, etc.
  3. Include an Honor Code on assignments—”I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this assignment/examination. Unauthorized assistance includes:…”
  4. Assess learning through frequent, varied assessments—low stakes vs. high stakes assessments, different types of assessments such as quizzes, projects, oral presentations, etc.
  5. Individualize assignments (or questions) by asking students to connect materials to their life, experience, or class discussion.
  6. Scaffold assignments with multi-stage feedback.
  7. Foster relationships by developing trust, providing support, and communicating expectations for success.

For more information on how you can incorporate these design strategies into your courses, visit M1 Promoting Academic Integrity in the CTE’s Flex Ed – Adaptive Pedagogy for Unpredictable Path course in Folio.

1. Define academic integrity and cheating and clearly explain what is considered dishonest and unacceptable behavior. 

2. Provide information and examples to help students understand the difference between collaboration on assignments and cheating, and identify plagiarism. Teach the proper use of citations. 

3. State how much collaboration is permissible on each assignment. 

4. State what the instructor’s expectations are for the students and explain what they should expect from the instructor. For example:

  • a. Include a statement in the syllabus encouraging honest work.
  • b. Repeat the campus academic integrity statement and provide a link to campus policies.
  • c. Describe academic dishonesty.
  • d. Describe the repercussions for academic dishonesty.
  • e. Describe permissible and impermissible collaboration.
  • f. Include outside links to information on plagiarism,self-tests and examples.
  • g. Include information on acceptable sources.
  • h. Include information about the college’s writing center, library or other support.

5. Provide a writing style sheet or handbook with information on plagiarism and campus policies.

6. Indicate assessments may require follow-up documentation, questions or assignments.

7. State expectations for the time needed to complete coursework.

8. State whether the instructor/college will use a plagiarism detection service.

This list of best practice strategies is based on “Institutional Policies/Practices and Course Design Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity in Online Education,” produced by WCET in February 2009 and updated in April 2009. In May 2009, the Instructional Technology Council (ITC) surveyed its membership to invite feedback and additional strategies to enhance the WCET work. This June 2009 document reflects the combined contributions of WCET, the UT TeleCampus of the University of Texas System, and ITC. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States license.

1. State the academic integrity/academic honesty policy within the online learning environment and discuss it early in the course.

2. Require student engagement with the academic integrity policy. For example:

  • a. 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.
  • b. Develop and ask students to commit to a class honor code.
  • c. Require students to read and sign an agreement to the campus academic integrity policy.
  • d. Write a letter to students about integrity and post it in the course.
  • e. 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).
  • f. Ask students to reflect on the academic integrity policy in the discussion board.
  • g. Include a lesson on avoiding plagiarism.

3. 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.

4. Provide students with a course or course lesson on research and/or study skills. Work with library staff to design assignments and prepare materials on plagiarism and research techniques.

5. Include a statement that the instructor reserves the right to require alternative forms and/or locations of assessments (e.g., proctoring).

6. 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.”

7. Select one or two difficult concepts from the paper and ask the student to restate/rewrite the information.

8. Require students to share key learning from references for a paper or self-reflection on an assignment in the discussion board.

9. Include an ethical decision-making case study within the course.


This list of best practice strategies is based on “Institutional Policies/Practices and Course Design Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity in Online Education,” produced by WCET in February 2009 and updated in April 2009. In May 2009, the Instructional Technology Council (ITC) surveyed its membership to invite feedback and additional strategies to enhance the WCET work. This June 2009 document reflects the combined contributions of WCET, the UT TeleCampus of the University of Texas System, and ITC. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States license.

James Lang in Cheating Lessons (2012) identifies four features of a learning environment associated with increases in academic dishonesty. 

  • Emphasis on performance—receiving a good grade and appearing smart rather than demonstrating competence in performing a task or skill
  • High stakes riding on the outcome—the entire course grade is determined by one or two major assignments
  • Extrinsic motivation for success—motivated by expectation to receive good grades or to get a good job rather than desire to learn
  • Students low expectation of success—“I know this is a hard class, I’m lucky if I pass;” or “I’m just not good at math…”

Tracey Bretag et al. (2017) during their investigation of contract cheating identified a fifth factor.

  • Lack of personalized teaching and learning relationship.

Based on their survey, the following served as indicators of an unsatisfactory relationship between faculty and student

  • Faculty don’t ensure student understanding of assignment requirements
  • Students don’t receive sufficient feedback
  • Teaching staff is perceived as unapproachable
  • Turn It In
  • Respondus Lockdown Browser
  • Respondus Monitor

For instructions on how to use these technologies in your courses, visit M3  Technologies for Encouraging Academic Integrity in the CTE’s Flex Ed – Adaptive Pedagogy for Unpredictable Path course in Folio.

Question Library – Attach files in written response questions | New

When creating a written response question, instructors can now allow learners to upload files in their answers and include embedded images. Learners can also record audio or video responses when answering written response question types. Written response questions are available in surveys.

When grading a quiz, similar to the behavior in the Discussions tool, instructors can download and open these attachments in another tab.

When learners are reviewing their quiz submissions, if they are allowed to view their quiz responses, they can view their uploaded attachments.

The maximum file size for a single file or embedded image attached to a quiz response is set to 102400 KB (100MB). The maximum file size for all files attached or embedded in a single quiz question response is set to 102400 KB (100MB).

Quiz Library | Figure: The updated Written Response question creation screen

Last updated: 9/21/2020