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Online Academic Integrity

Our pages on Lockdown Browser and Machine-Generated Content/AI can be found on this page's sublinks. 


Many faculty moving into online instruction have questions about maintaining academic integrity in their courses, in particular on assessments such as quizzes and exams. We will guide you through some best practices. Please keep in mind, if online students are given clear guidance and expectations in a well-designed online course, they are not any more likely to cheat than students in on campus courses. Students in any format will be more likely to give into the temptation to cheat if they are experiencing high anxiety and time pressure. Consider starting with the following:

  • Lower time pressure: don't put time limits on your online activities, including exams.
  • Lower due-date pressure: allow late submissions (this may come with late penalties).
  • Lower grade anxiety: spread out the points across activities and avoid having one assignment carry enough points to possibly wreck a final grade. 
  • Lower communication anxiety: Explicitly tell students that you are open to hearing about the challenges they face, and give them multiple avenues for making contact if things don't go as planned. Actually say that you are willing to accept late work, offer extensions, think of accepting revised work—whatever you are willing to do, say it, so that students do not feel that you are unapproachable and they have no choice but to "make the grade" any way they can.

Thank you to Thomas Tobin at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the above suggestions.

Please see his White Paper on Academic Integrity in Online Courses. 

Best Practices With Canvas

If you are concerned about cheating on quizzes and exams with Canvas, consider the following best practices. 

1. Mix up your questions: Give students questions that are objective and assess lower levels of understanding (multiple choice, true/false, fill in the blank) and questions that are subjective and assess deeper levels of understanding (short answer, essay). Application questions may especially reduce cheating as it will be obvious if students have shared information. 

2. Consider randomization: Randomization on tests can take several forms. All test questions could be randomized. Keep in mind with this option that knowledge groups will not be kept together (for example, if you test by chapter the questions will be all over the place). Answers for each question could be randomized. Again here, keep in mind that this option will not work if you have multiple choice questions that allow for "all of the above". The questions can also be randomized by student. See number 3. 

3. Random question groups: 

        First, learn to create a question bank.

        Second, learn to create a question group. 


4. Set the timer: Canvas allows you to set a timer and also gives you the option to allow students to continue working past the timer or to have the test auto-submit when time has expired. Keep in mind, setting a timer creates more anxiety and pressure, but it does make it harder for students to look up answers in a text or online. If you set a timer, always consider whether there are students in your course with extra time accommodations - you will need to set exceptions for them in the test options. 

Using Lockdown Browser

5. Consider using Respondus for locking down the screen or remote monitoring. If you plan to use remote proctoring, your syllabus must include specific language. Please see this page for more information. 

Using Turnitin 

6. Consider using Turnitin (formerly Ouriginal), a plagiarism/similarity prevention program. Access the instructor guide to learn more.