Statement on Academic Integrity
Academic integrity is the foundation of the development and acquisition of knowledge and is based on values of honesty, trust, responsibility, and respect. Academic integrity in teaching, learning and research is fundamental to our mission and an expectation of the Durham College community. Acts that undermine academic integrity contradict our core values, erode educational inquiry and diminish the quality of our scholarship and reputation.
Research integrity, ethics, and principles of conduct are key to academic integrity. Members of our campus community are required to abide by our institutional code of conduct and promote academic integrity in upholding Durham College’s reputation of excellence.
Academic Integrity and Online Learning*
Upholding academic integrity requires a partnered approach. Students, academic staff, and administrators all have inter-related roles and responsibilities. On this page, you will find guidance about your role as an educator for upholding academic integrity.
Approaching academic integrity in the online environment
- Be honest with your learners about your expectations.
- Start with the assumption that most students are honest and they want to learn. They may also be scared and unsure as they engage in remote and online learning for the first time. Have conversations about what it means to adapt quickly during these times. Show kindness and compassion.
- It is important to trust that your students are doing the best they can. Just because learning moves online, that does not mean that cheating automatically increases.
- Now is a time to have conversations with your students about trust. One factor that can impact cheating rates is antagonistic relationships between students and faculty. Students do not suddenly engage in academic misconduct the moment they enter an online learning environment. It is important to start from the position that we trust our students until they give us a reason to believe otherwise.
- Trust that students are here to learn. Be clear on what students should know and be able to do by the end of the course.
- Intentionally align course activities and assessment strategies to course learning outcomes. When possible, establish relevance by linking their learning to current events, or their future academic experiences. Communicate and have students consider questions such as, “Why is this worth learning?” and “How does what I am learning connect to what I already know?” Provide structure and opportunities for students to practice what they will be assessed on where ever possible, and clearly communicate your expectations for learning. You may also integrate activities related to academic integrity in your assignments and assessments using reflective prompts such as:
- How did you demonstrate academic integrity in this assignment?
- When were you most challenged to demonstrate academic integrity? How did you overcome these challenges?
- What have you learned about acting with integrity to this assignment, and how might this apply to your future academic or professional experiences?
- Be patient with questions and remind students that you still expect them to conduct themselves respectfully, even if learning happens remotely.
- Respect the college’s existing policy and procedures for academic misconduct.
- Understand and respect that not all students have stable internet connectivity or personal technology that is well-suited for remote learning.
- Students may be dealing with the challenges associated with self-isolation, illness and/or caregiving for others. Some students for whom the Durham region is not home are in the process of, or making plans to, return to their own families. They may be travelling or in different time zones. Please respect that it is very important to be flexible with deadlines.
- There is lots of evidence to show that although young people today may be adept at using technology for entertainment and socializing; however, they do not have innate remote / online learning skills. Understand that some students are experiencing extreme learning curves and stress associated with developing new strategies to support their learning.
- As educators, we have a responsibility to lead by example. Remind students of what their learning responsibilities are. Take the time to explain your expectations of them, even if classes are quickly moving to remote delivery in an online environment. Let them know you still expect them to be responsible for their learning, but also show compassion if they are experiencing trauma or anxiety.
Influencing factors and strategies
- Provide examples of proper academic work, discuss common academic misconduct examples.
- Communicate expectations early and provide opportunities to discuss with students.
- Create a DC Connect FAQ discussion for students to ask questions.
- Provide opportunities for students to submit assignment drafts for feedback.
- Have students introduce themselves via videos and/or text at the beginning of the semester
- Get to know students’ written work through the discussion board and other frequent small stakes assessments.
- Engage students in collaborative work that you can view throughout the semester
- Provide opportunities for students to learn the technology for course activities and/or practice quizzes to reduce their anxiety before a test or project is due.
- Communicate expectations early, set due dates, use the DC Connect calendar, and provide opportunities for feedback.
- Create activities that have students engage with each other to build a supportive community.
- Encourage students to talk about academic integrity through the discussion board.
- Use diverse assessment types to provide a variety of opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning.
- Use frequent short low-stakes assignments and provide timely feedback.
Guidance for assessment design
Keep the focus on promoting learning and not on avoiding cheating
There is ample research to support that there is not necessarily more cheating in remote courses. However, the nature of the cheating can change. There might be more use of unauthorized materials or unauthorized third parties. As educators, our role includes assessing in ways that are appropriate and fair for the learning environment.
What to avoid:
Multiple-choice exams designed from face-to-face proctored environments are not recommended. Alterative assessment options are available at: https://taylorinstitute.ucalgary.ca/teaching-continuity/student-assessment-ideas
Avoid using synchronous tools like Teams or Virtual Classroom to invigilate exams. Not all students have cameras and some of them may not be financially able to buy one. We cannot require students to buy a video camera and students cannot be penalized if they do not have one.
Understand that connectivity, necessary travel, different time zones, access to technology, and personal circumstances may make it impossible for students to do online tests with a minimal window of time. We recommend giving students a minimum of 24-48 hours to complete any assessment.
Now is the time to be compassionate with deadlines, within reason. Many students are new at learning through remote delivery. In addition to broadband access and new technology, there are personal stressors including caregiving responsibilities. Together, these additional stressors compound the typical stress associated with course assessments, increasing students’ cognitive load.
Wherever possible, use authentic assessments that scaffold learning so students are provided with feedback throughout the learning process. Chunking assessments will enable students to stay on track, integrate your feedback, and minimize last-minute work.
Finally, be aware that there are predatory third parties (contract cheating companies, term paper mills, unethical tutoring companies, etc.) that have escalated their operations recently. Some services are employing aggressive marketing tactics directed specifically to students experiencing high levels of stress. Have conversations with your students about the importance of protecting themselves against predatory pay-to-pass companies. Emphasize that you are here for them and will help them in whatever way you can.
Communicate the tools that are available to students at Durham College, including:
Academic Integrity and DC Connect
DC Connect has multiple features to help mitigate academic misconduct. Yet, for courses that are put online last-minute some additional considerations need to be reflected in how you set up online quizzes. See the CAFE’s DC Connect Quizzes resource pages for instructions as to how to implement these features.
Randomize questions for each student using the question library. For example, 20 questions for each student can be randomly selected from a library of 50 questions, giving each student a different set of questions. See the CAFE resource site for more information.
Use the randomize answer order for each question. Even though the answers options will be the same for all students, the order will be different. See the CAFE resource site for more information.
Showing one question at a time is a good option to help students focus. To help students plan their time, provide them with an overview of the number of questions, types of questions (e.g., short-answer, multiple choice), and the point values of each section at the beginning of the assessment. Prepare them by communicating this before the test. See the Ryerson University site for How To’s.
Keep in mind that this may be a source of student anxiety as students are prevented from revisiting questions. If you decide to use this strategy, ensure that this is communicated to students before the assessment date and on the first page of the assessment. If you are using a timed assessment, consider allowing students more time to process the information carefully. See the Ryerson University site for How To’s.
Set a realistic time limits which will require students to focus and work through the quiz, but not to create anxiety by rushing students through the quiz. Allow grace periods at the beginning of the quiz to allow students to log into their assessments and work through any technical glitches, as well as time to submit the assessment. See the CAFE resource site for more information.
Make tests available for a 24-hour time period to accommodate different time zones, student schedules and technical difficulties. For example, a quiz that takes 60 minutes to complete can be open for 24 hours. See the CAFE resource for more information.
Hide all submission view options, so students do not see the questions and their responses. You can always release the quiz, student results, and correct answers at a later date. See the CAFE resource for more information.
Show the clock to help keep students on time. This clock is available in the timing section within restrictions. See the CAFE resource for more information.
Only allow one attempt per student and disable right click to prevent quick copy/paste. See the D2L Brightspace How Tos for Quizzes for more information.
More tips for online quizzes
- Create a practice quiz with the same settings as the actual quiz to provide an opportunity for students to experience the technology and process. This will help reduce their anxiety about seeing the technology for the first time as a graded test.
- Communicate that graded assessments will have time limits so that students are aware.
- Have a back-up plan as some students might experience technology or internet troubles. Back-up plans include having students write a paper or complete another project. You can also release the quiz again or a different quiz to select students using the Special Access option.
- Use frequent low-stakes quizzes.
- When creating a new quiz, preview the test to identify any errors
- Explicitly state academic integrity expectations, such as graded tests must be done individually.
DC Connect Class Progress
In your DC Connect course, under the My Tools menu, you will find Class Progress. Class Progress is a feature that shows you student activity in the D2L course such as content viewed, discussion posts, assignment submission and D2L login history.
*The content on this webpage is adapted from the Taylor Institute of Teaching and Learning, University of Calgary
(please visit the links below and let us know your thoughts on using some of this content)
- Educator Resource: Academic Integrity in Large Classes. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1880/112295
- (Not applicable to DC) Resource for Teaching Assistants. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1880/111012
- How to Lead a Discovery Interview About Contract Cheating. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1880/111077
- Academic Integrity: Combating Systemic Racism. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1880/112156
- This resource could be built out a bit more.
This resource from University of Waterloo is also CC4.0 (you may use/remix with attribution): https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/planning-courses/course-design/encouraging-academic-integrity-online