Enforcing Academic Honesty

WCET produced a list of best practice strategies to help institutions and faculty promote academic honesty in their courses and programs. The material is used under a Creative Commons license.

Best Practice Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity in Online Education

  • Define academic integrity and cheating and clearly explain what is considered dishonest and unacceptable behavior.
  • 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.
  • State how much collaboration is permissible on each assignment.
  • State what the instructor’s expectations are for the students and explain what they should expect from the 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 services.
  • Provide a writing style sheet or handbook with information on plagiarism and campus policies.
  • Indicate assessments may require follow-up documentation, questions, or assignments.
  • State expectations for the time needed to complete coursework.
  • State whether the instructor/college will use a plagiarism detection service.

We encourage faculty to design assessment methods with academic honesty in mind.

  • Provide rubrics, or detailed grading criteria, for every assignment at the beginning of the course so students understand how they will be graded.
  • OIT provides faculty with training on ways to 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.
  • Clarify that students with disabilities and requesting testing accommodations (extended time for completion of examinations and quizzes) must initiate the request for accommodations/services by applying at Access Services and providing appropriate documentation.
  • Change test items and assignment topics each semester.
  • 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, 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 semester 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 semester).
  • 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.
Online instructors have various options to enhance the security of testing with their online or blended courses.

An NDUS User ID and Password are required to login to Blackboard. Faculty and students are required to claim their accounts and setup their own password.

Respondus Lockdown Browser (RLB) is a browser, like Google Chrome, Safari or Mozilla Firefox. However, RLB prevents the student from exiting the assessment until it is completed. It also prevents the student from accessing any web or computer based applications outside the testing environment. So web browsing, searching, or copying and pasting is impossible.

Course Security Controls. Various behind the scene settings allow faculty to control what a student sees and when they see it.  For example, after completing an online assessment, students can be restricted from seeing the assessment questions, responses, feedback, and even scores until a testing period passes, all tests have been graded, or when released by the instructor. Combined with other security measures, course controls provide a good degree of security.

Proctoring. The instructor has five options for proctor control.  Instructors may approve:
  • YuJa Proctoring: YuJa is a web-based recording application that records video, audio and the computer screen simultaneously. It may be utilized in conjunction with Respondus Lockdown Browser. You must have a web-camera and headset with microphone to use this option.
  • MSU Testing Center: The MSU Testing Center is located on the 3rd Floor of the Administration Building on the Minot State University Campus. To schedule a proctor-based test, the student must contact the testing center and schedule the examination two-weeks in advance by calling (701)858-3830. The service is free for MSU Online students and there is a $20 fee for students not in an MSU credit granting course. Identification of the student must be confirmed using a government or institution issued identification.
  • Community-based proctors: Community proctors are professionals within your student’s community that have been approved to supervise examinations for online courses. Students are responsible for contacting professionals within their community BEFORE submitting the Proctor Request Form to the instructor. Testing must take place in the proctor’s school or place of business. The request form should be submitted within the first two-weeks of the semester, unless a different deadline is assigned by the instructor. Proctors should verify identification of the student using a government or institution issued identification.
  • Institutional-based proctor services: Several institutions of higher education across the state operate testing centers with test proctoring options. A student can call the test center directly, complete the proctoring approval process, and then complete testing at one of these locations. Identification of the student must be confirmed using a government or institution issued identification.
  • Course instructor (in-office testing): Course instructor or designee on-campus proctors (department secretary, etc.). Identification of the student must be confirmed using a government or institution issued identification.

Proctor Notifications to students at the time of registration are required. Faculty must notify the Online Program Coordinator if they will require students to use proctors in their course. The Online Program Coordinator will post this requirement on the Minot State Online web site and will post a notice in Campus Connection under Course Notes. Failure to properly notify students could cause Minot State to be liable for any additional fees associated with proctoring.