What is Academic Misconduct?
The Ohio State University's Code of Student Conduct defines academic misconduct as any activity that compromises the academic integrity of the university, or subverts the educational process. In blended or online classes, this can look much the same as on-the-ground courses and can include behaviors like violating course rules, using unauthorized materials during an exam, collaborating with classmates without authorization, falsifying identity, using another student's work, and much more. In an online environment, however, carefully strategizing to encourage academic integrity, mitigate academic misconduct, and report suspicions of misconduct is particularly critical as most (if not all) work is completed without live instructor oversight.
Instructors and faculty members can take specific actions to mitigate academic misconduct, particularly in online or blended courses. Some of these actions include:
Designing online and blended course environments that promote academic integrity:
- Use professionally relevant assignments with strategies for efficient grading and feedback, such as creating rubrics. The guide for Online Assessment may offer some ideas.
- Minimize high-stakes exams, or lessen their overall grade weight by supplementing with other types of summative assessments. Including multiple assessment types will help provide a well-rounded picture of studentsa progress and create opportunities to identify inconsistencies in student achievement.
- Create opportunities for instructor-student interaction and feedback, as well as activities and assessments appropriate to the class size.
- Conduct all quizzes, assignments, and discussions in Carmen (and other university tools) so that student activity information is logged and can be consulted if questions arise.
- Be explicit about academic integrity expectations at the beginning of the course and on all assignments, including clarity and resources for avoiding plagiarism. The guide Talking To Your Students About Academic Integrity may be helpful for example language.
- Ensure your course has a manageable workload for students and aligns with basic credit hour estimation.
Creating assignments and assessments with academic integrity in mind:
- Include in the assignment instructions your explicit expectations for collaboration, use of prior work for the course, and use of course examples.
- For projects and papers:
- Be transparent to students about how the work they are doing in the course is professionally relevant so that they see the big picture application and value of the work.
- Integrate direct links to student support services like the Writing Center, Dennis Learning Center, and library.
- Use the Turnitin originality check to identify possible cases of plagiarism.
- For quizzes and exams:
- Create quizzes in Carmen using settings that deter casual cheating:
- Set the quiz to draw groups of questions randomly from question banks
- Have the quiz open for a limited window of time and set a reasonable time limit
- Randomize the order of quiz-response options
- Limit students to viewing one question at a time
- Lock questions after students have answered them (if appropriate)
- For questions with numerical values, use Carmen formula questions to have the quiz create different values for each student.
- Use low-stakes exams and self-checks to give students practice for final exams, reducing anxiety and potential inclination to cheat.
- Utilize proctoring solutions and originality check systems. The guide Technology Tools for Promoting Academic Integrity provides more information and context.
- Use the guide Designing Assessments That Dont Lend Themselves to Cheating.
Creating assignments and assessments that avoid plagiarism:
- Design essay prompts that are not generic, but reflect the specifics of your class as much as possible. This will make it more difficult for students to use the many generic essays available online.
- Require drafts. This helps by not only making students show the developments of their ideas, but also by encouraging them to work earlier on their papers. Plagiarism becomes an option for students when they have done no work on the assignment that is due the next day and feel they cannot complete the assignment without cheating.
- Explicitly and repeatedly tell students that you use Turnitin or other plagiarism-detecting software.
What to do is suspect a student is committing academic misconduct:
In a case where you suspect student is cheating or committing academic misconduct in an online course, take the following steps:
Examine pertinent data about student activity (logins, quiz logs, etc.) for Carmen or other university systems
Consult a Carmen representative to verify your observations
Report all suspected cases of academic misconduct to the Committee on Academic Misconduct. Follow the steps outlined on the COAM website.
Additional ODEE Resources and Support
For Further Reading
Ambrose, Bridges, DiPietro, Lovett, Norman, How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching