Academic Integrity Considerations for Assessing Students Online

It is important to consider academic integrity when moving student assessments online. As instructors, there are several ways to decrease academic misconduct and improve academic integrity. These strategies range from steps that can be taken to encourage academic integrity to methods to detect plagiarism and cheating when it has occurred.


Encouraging Academic Integrity: Creating Policies and Providing Resources

  • Create and communicate a clear academic integrity policy for your course, specific to the online teaching circumstance
    • The policy should include examples of permissible (if any) and impermissible collaboration as well as acceptable and unacceptable memory aids and/or sources
    • Consider requiring student engagement with the academic integrity policy. Students can attach an Academic Integrity Statement with any assignments or exams, stating their commitment to academic integrity This Academic Integrity Commitment Statement from the University of Saskatchewan can be adapted to suit many online assessments.
  • Encourage student-instructor and student-student interaction within the online course environment. Research shows that students who feel more connected to their instructor are less likely to engage in academic misconduct
    • Synchronous video conferencing, using platforms such as WebEx, works well to maintain student-instructor relationships online, where feasible
  • Direct students to research and writing supports so that students understand how to complete the assignment or exam, including proper referencing practices in the discipline


Designing Assessments that Discourage Academic Misconduct

  • If possible, use authentic assessments that emphasize problem-solving, and/or focus on distinctive tasks. Ask students to “evaluate,” “create,” or “analyze” a given theory or problem
  • Consider including a critical reflection component where students must reflect on their own learning
  • Where appropriate, include follow-up questions such as “Expand upon the ideas behind the information you referenced” or “Explain why you choose this description, example, phrase, reference, etc.”
  • Use scaffolded assignments, where students submit multiple drafts of their work
  • For low-stakes timed, closed-book exams, make use of Courselink’s Quizzes tool features such as randomized question order and response option order


Preventing and Detecting Academic Dishonesty on Online Exams

  • Make use of plagiarism detection software such as, or use a Google search of unique phrases from the paper
  • Use remote proctoring software such as the Respondus Lockdown Browser and Monitor ensuring that you follow the University of Guelph’s Instructor expectations when using this tool


For more information:

Best Practice Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity in Online Education by WCET, UT TeleCampus, and Instructional Technology

Educatus: By Teaching We Learn – The Official Blog of the GMCTE

The Taylor Institute - Academic Integrity and Online Learning