While Plagiarism Detection Software (PDS) – such as Turnitin – has proven to be a useful tool in my classes for identifying clear violations of academic integrity, an unexpected side effect of using the integrated functions within Canvas has been an increase in student anxiety. While my understanding of the color-coded flags and the percentages presented in Canvas provide me with a quick visual way to identify student papers with potential issues; for students, those numbers are like flashing warning signs of wrongdoing, especially when the numbers are above 40-50%.

I learned very quickly that students didn’t understand what the numbers meant, nor how to actually read their Turnitin report. Instead, students would see the high percentage and immediately send a panicked e-mail that expressed concern they would be accused of plagiarism and asked what they needed to do (e.g. offering proof that they did not plagiarize, offering to redo the assignment). But what really stood out about the e-mails was that students clearly did not understand what Turnitin was telling them, or that even proper citation could lead to a high similarity percentage.

Possible Solutions

In response to these e-mails I began to brainstorm ways to use the Turnitin Report as a teaching tool. This resulted in three concrete steps I take when using PDS in the online classroom:

  1. I include an example of a Turnitin Report with the grading rubric and instructions for assignments where students tend to need a high number of outside sources. These examples were designed to help students identify what to look for in the report for those specific assignments, in terms of what to ignore and what not to ignore.
  2. For students who have a high percentage of similarity on an assignment, I share the report along with their grade, pointing out areas of concern within the report or emphasizing why there was no concern.
  3. For students who struggle with citing, I include their Turnitin report and indicate where they correctly cited sources and when they incorrectly used a source without proper attribution.

While these initial efforts have shown signs of alleviating the fears of most students, two of them are after the fact methods that do not eliminate that initial fear response and rash of panicky e-mails. As much as I would like to believe that students review the example Turnitin report that I include with the assignment, course analytics suggest few students access these example files. With this in mind, I’m planning to create a separate “How to Read Your Report” module or video as a required and graded course activity. It is hoped that this required module will increase student awareness and preparation once they begin their assignments; and decrease anxiety when they are presented with their Turnitin percentages and reports.

Final Suggestions

While using PDS within an online class can lead to unintended negative reactions from students, it is not suggested that faculty not use the system. In addition to the steps above, other methods for easing some of the growing pains that may come with using PDS include:

  • Offering students a “no questions asked” option to resubmit the assignment. If a student sees their assignment flagged as being highly similar, review it, and realize that they did not properly attribute sources to support their work, they can make changes and resubmit the assignment without needing to contact the instructor. As long as the assignment is turned in on time, I simply grade the final submitted file and ignore the original submission. This technique has the added benefit of encouraging students to not wait until the last minute to submit their work.
  • Including PDS reports with grade comments for all students on all assignments, regardless of whether there are concerns with their similarity percentage or not. This works to normalize students looking at the report and also allows the instructor to encourage proper attribution of outside work by all students.
  • Teaching plagiarism avoidance OR teaching a specific citation method (e.g. APA, MLA, etc.), not both. You can either focus on using PDS as a tool to help students understand how their work may or may not represent proper paraphrasing, summarizing, or quoting; or you can teach students how to properly cite using a specific citation method. But trying to do both can be confusing for students.

Just remember, Turnitin and other Plagiarism Detection Software are tools. The benefits of those tools come from proper application by the instructor.

Many, perhaps most, students engage in academic dishonesty, and many factors can contribute to these behaviors. Because cheating is often impacted by the situation, we can use what we know about the factors that impact academic dishonesty to design courses that support integrity and structure student success. 

The connection between course design and impact factors such as high stakes assignments, workload, and procrastination is evident. Standard scaffolding can support students and guard against those factors, but expanding scaffolding to include reading can broaden the impact and further mitigate risks related to academic dishonesty. 


Scaffolding assignments, writing assignments in particular, by breaking them into process steps is a well-known best practice. Scaffolding can structure skill-building activities through low-stakes tasks that deepen comprehension, practice application, and construct larger assignments. It’s clear to see how scaffolding (or a lack thereof) can impact procrastination and how procrastination can impact lack of preparedness and anxiety. Taken together, students can easily find themselves in a perfect storm of poor performance that perpetuates low academic self-efficacy. 

Since students are more likely to cheat on written assignments, scaffolding writing assignments is an important way to support academic integrity and student success. Scaffolded writing assignments often begin by submitting a topic, outline, annotated bibliography, or early draft, which overlooks the opportunity to focus on a key component of student success: Reading. 

Scaffolding Reading   

When we assign reading without assigning a point value, we are sending the message that reading is pointless. When we assign reading without a support structure, we are assuming that students have the time management skills needed to prioritize reading, which they may find difficult, boring, or pointless. If students do complete the reading independently, we are assuming that they are reading closely and critically, identifying key elements, and connecting them to assignments and objectives. If our assumptions are incorrect, students can fall behind and end up struggling to complete assignments without comprehending the content.  

Structuring student success is especially important now that many students are learning online, including many who would not have selected online sections if given an option. Students who were able to get by without reading and supplement their learning with class discussions are now required to complete the reading and to do so alone. For our online sections of first-year writing, we expanded our design to scaffolded reading through the steps of collaborative reading, reading quizzes, and discussion posts. Collaborative readings allow students to comment on the content readings with their peers, and reading quizzes and discussion posts allow students to earn points for engaging the readings.

Collaborative Reading

All of our content readings are distributed as Google Docs, and students are required to comment on the readings. Collaborative readings allow students to engage content and practice active reading strategies with peers. Students can ask their peers questions and help each other by answering and adding context. In online sections, it is particularly critical to create opportunities for students to interact with their peers, and collaborative reading provides a peer audience:

Collaborative Reading 1

Collaborative readings allow instructors to discuss reading practices and to direct reading by adding their own comments before students complete the readings, which they can use to demonstrate annotating techniques, highlight key terms and takeaways, and ask leading questions.

 Students can also access recordings of the readings in Youtube:

Collaborative Reading 2

Readings include a time on task estimate students can use for planning. Students are encouraged to pay attention to their time on task, schedule breaks as they learn their reading patterns, contact their instructors if something is taking considerably longer than estimated, and stick with the task if they haven’t put in the estimated amount of time.  

Reading Quizzes 

After students complete the collaborative readings, they take a ten-question reading quiz. The goal is not to test comprehension or retention but to facilitate reading, help students identify important elements, and provide points for engaging the reading.

“The reading quizzes are designed to facilitate comprehension of course content. Understanding the reading material is essential to successful completion of the assignments. Quizzes highlight important points from each reading. Feel free to reference the readings as you work on the quiz. Reading quizzes are not timed and can be taken once.” 

All quizzes are automatically graded in Canvas, and answers become visible after the quizzes are due.

 Discussion Posts

After students complete the reading quiz, they submit a discussion post, which deepens comprehension and provides points for commenting, engaging peer comments, and summarizing content. All discussion posts are threads so that students have a peer audience. The questions are the same for all readings:

Discussion Post

Instructors do not need to review student comments on the collaborative readings because they can see them in the discussion posts. Evaluation should be approached as check/minus, but question five can be answered to encourage communication, especially in online courses.


Our scaffolded reading structure was deployed for Fall 20, when all sections of ENC 1101 and 1102 were online. The results of our student surveys are overwhelmingly positive—even higher than the F2F format—with over 95% of respondents agreeing that they are better writers for having taken the course. Students noted benefiting from seeing peer samples and responded well to that concept of showing their work to earn points for reading. Completion and retention results were also positive. We will continue to track outcomes connected to academic dishonesty, and we plan to evaluate the impact of scaffolded reading on FTIC, FIF, URM, and Pell-eligible student populations. 


Scaffolding reading provides structure for online sections and increases peer interaction among students. Reading that is actively engaged and instructor mediated is considered direct faculty instruction. Scaffolding reading can also ground hybrid/hyflex sections or facilitate flipped classrooms. Assigning quizzes and posts before class meetings helps students get more out of discussions and activities. Scaffolding readings also provides assessment content to demonstrate SLOs connected to reading (e.g., identify, recognize, discuss) and allows instructors to identify students who are not completing the readings and provide intervention opportunities.

Elements of this approach can be utilized independently. Standard scaffolding can be expanded to include the submission of any course content or lectures. If an outline or annotated bibliography is assigned, students could submit an annotated article each week for a few weeks before the annotated bibliography is due. If textbooks do not include pdfs or digital copies, students can still communicate in a collaborative notes doc and submit summaries, share takeaways, and post comments in a graded discussion thread.

Scaffolding Support

Scaffolding reading through collaborative readings, quizzes, and posts prepares students for success in subsequent tasks, which can decrease procrastination and build confidence, and advances critical reading skills, which can transfer beyond the content and the course. All quizzes and posts are due at the same days and times and create low-stakes assignments that add up over the term and provide a foundation of points. The consistent structure provides a clear path to success that values participation and effort while avoiding the anxiety associated with high stakes and poor performance.


Lee, S. D., Kuncel, N. R., & Gau, J. (2020). Personality, attitude, and demographic correlates of academic dishonesty: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 146(11), 1042–1058. https://doi.org/10.1037/bul0000300

McCabe, D. L. (2005). It takes a village: Academic dishonesty and educational opportunity. Association of American Colleges & Universities, Liberal Education, 91(3). It Takes a Village: Academic Dishonesty and Educational Opportunity | Association of American Colleges & Universities (aacu.org)

I owe the title and the overriding theme of this blog to Salt-N-Pepa’s 1990 song about sex.  Now that I have your attention, what does this possibly have to do with Chegg?  Well, simply put, we need to talk about it.

Chegg, and other tutoring sites, are more the purview of students than faculty members.  I find that many faculty have only recently become acquainted with Chegg, CourseHero, StudySoup, TutorMe, and the like.  In fact, in several recent academic integrity hearings, I have had to give a brief introduction to these websites for the edification of the faculty hearing board members.  The student hearing board members have never needed an explanation.  Nevertheless, there are many issues regarding Chegg and other tutoring websites that are worthy of exploration.  Here are a few thoughts:

Faculty considerations:

  • Are my instructional materials being distributed?  Checking these sites regularly for “leaked information” has become normal in many institutions.  Protecting your materials with copyright is recommended, and Chegg will take them down if requested.
  • Has my exam been compromised?  Were the test questions and answers viewable during the time students were taking the exam?  You can file an investigation with Chegg (https://www.chegg.com/honorcode) in order to find student emails and computer IP addresses from students who accessed test questions and answers during certain time frames.
  • If students are seeking help from outside sources, what does that suggest about my own instructional methods?  Am I offering enough supplemental assistance, office hours, TA support, scaffolding of assignments, etc.?  As an administrator, we often hear from students who are frustrated with online courses, don’t feel comfortable reaching out for help, or are struggling somehow.  Many students feel these online resources are their only pathway to success.

Student considerations:

  • If I’m using Chegg, or another online resource, have I compromised my own integrity?  Getting help from a tutor about general concepts is fine, and Chegg does offer legitimate assistance through tutors.  However, getting an answer to a test question is an entirely different animal.  Many students find this distinction understandable only after they have faced an unfortunate academic integrity violation. 
  • If a test is open notes, why can’t I use Google?  When the whole world is computer-based, it just seems logical to use it whenever you need it, including in a test environment.  Students need to learn course expectations early on, and continue to hear messages that reinforce the use of institutional resources, rather than outside resources, which may or may not be reliable or legitimate.
  • If I post a test question, what does that have to do with copyright laws?  Many students do not realize that they are violating their professor’s rights if they share protected information without owner permission. 

There are many faculty members and academic integrity staff out there who consider Chegg.com (and other tutoring sites) the bane of their existence, but I encourage you to look at the broader context.  These sites and the pandemic will come and go, but it is up to us to explore these issues with students in a way that promotes personal integrity as key.  While continuing Chegg investigations, please talk about these critical issues.  We may be specialists in the disciplines of English, Chemical Engineering, and Accounting, but we are all responsible for ensuring students graduate with more than disciplinary knowledge.

[1] Salt-N-Pepa.  “Let’s Talk About Sex.” Blacks’ Magic.  Next Plateau Label, 1990.

I met my first conspiracy theorist in March 2020 as a result of the global pandemic. The Conspiracy Theory derives from a 2010 Alex Jones claim about Bill Gates. This conspiracy theory is noted as False on Snopes. I was unsettled by this conversation with an adult who could willingly and uncritically accept conspiracy theory as truth and expect an audience to approach this false narrative without critical thinking. I watched Conspiracy Theory videos; I watched John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight videos on Conspiracy Theories and Alex Jones. I researched: I began to piece together why both conspiracy theory and academic integrity hold together and fall apart.

What impressed me was that the conspiracy theorist knew the conspiracy theory and recited it chapter and verse; there was no mention of the origin or timing or evidence related to this conspiracy theory. It is a sticky idea as conspiracy theory (C. Heath and D. Heath, 2007). Immediately, I thought about the passionate intensity of the conspiracy theorist and, secretly, hoped students at my institution could recite parts of our Academic Integrity Policy with similar and uncanny accuracy.

Additionally, this conspiracy theory works by language codes (conspiracy theory frameworks) that are successful. One form of success: “Conspiracy theories may promise to make people feel safer as a form of cheater detection, in which dangerous and untrustworthy individuals are recognized and the threat they posed is reduced or neutralized” K. M. Douglas, R. M. Sutton, A. Cichocka (2017) who are summarizing research by Bost and Prunier. (p. 539). I wished that students viewed the Academic Integrity Policy as “cheater detection,” a protection from students who harm the campus community by academic misconduct.

I examined the ways students approach the Academic Integrity Policy. It sits on a webpage; there is no context provided for the policy. It does not prime students to read the Academic Integrity Policy analytically. One reason is the length of the Academic Integrity Policy. A misstep might be that the accumulation of details within the Academic Integrity Policy reads as battle scars.

I appraised how the fail rate of academic integrity policies (students self-report academic misconduct) is a contrast of those who affirm the value of academic integrity policies. Is there a connection between fail rates in academic integrity and conspiracy theories? “So far, therefore, empirical research suggests that conspiracy theories serve to erode social capital and may, if anything, frustrate people’s need to see themselves as valuable members of morally decent collectives.” (Douglas, K. M., Sutton, R. M., & Cichocka, A., 2017, p. 540) I reflected on the ways the Academic Integrity Policy similarly thwarts community trust and moves students away from “morally decent collectives,” at least at times.

Is there brevity in Academic Integrity? “To begin, when policy information is easier to understand, citizens display a greater willingness to comply with policy requests (Porumbescu, Lindeman, Ceka, & Cucciniello, 2017). Further, individuals exposed to less detailed information, such as messages shared on social media, have higher levels of trust in government than do those exposed to more detailed information, such as messages, shared on government Websites (Porumbescu, 2016).” (Connolly, J. M., Uscinski, J. E., Klofstad, C. A., & West, J. P., 2019, p. 472). Perhaps, each college/university needs two distinct Academic Integrity Policies: one that is tweetable and one that is the big juicy.

Essential Watchable Research:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNS4lecOaAc (Last Week Tonight)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0b_eHBZLM6U (Last Week Tonight)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyGq6cjcc3Q (Last Week Tonight)

Readable References:

Connolly, J. M., Uscinski, J. E., Klofstad, C. A., & West, J. P. (2019). Communicating to the Public in the Era of Conspiracy Theory. Public Integrity, 21(5), 469–476. https://doi-org.ezcvcc.vccs.edu/10.1080/10999922.2019.1603045

Douglas, K. M., Sutton, R. M., & Cichocka, A. (2017). The psychology of conspiracy theories. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26(6), 538–542. https://doi-org.ezcvcc.vccs.edu/10.1177/0963721417718261

Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2007). Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (First ed.). New York, NY: Random House.

About the Author

The 5th annual International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating took place on October 21/2020 with a record 250+ organizations registering through the International Centre for Academic Integrity (ICAI) website. This event was sorely needed considering all that our world has been through with the pandemic. The day was dedicated to the memory of our trusted colleague Dr. Tracey Bretag who was a beacon of hope and inspiration for all of us working in the field of academic integrity. The main aim of the day was to increase awareness of the practice of contract cheating that runs counter to academic integrity and threatens the quality of our educational offerings. However, this year the international planning committee wanted to increase international participation and communication, as well as increase student participation and involvement. Both these efforts were met in a variety of ways.

First, the international planning committee consisted of experts, educators, researchers, and writers committed to mitigating the practice of contract cheating and promoting academic integrity across all sectors of education. The planning committee consisted of Thomas Lancaster, Irene Glendinning, Zeenath Khan, Evangeline Litsa Mourelatos, Sue Hackett, and Christine Kanawada. The international composition of the planning committee helped ensure an inclusive approach to the day.

Second, the first-ever international student steering group led an innovative social media campaign and provided a kickoff to the twenty hours of live feed that served as the spotlight event for the day. Students heralded from over nine different parts of the world and their enthusiasm and commitment to the aims and objectives for the day demonstrated how committed students are to ensuring quality in their academic careers.

Third, the creative international student contest titled Students Speaking Up for Integrity received a record number of submissions. The top three winners originated from Greece and the United States ( View Winners). All submissions were inspiring and again spoke to our students’ commitment to academic integrity.

Fourth, a spotlight event titled Twenty in 20 Live Feed — Global Conversations about Contract Cheating supported members in the academic integrity practice community to join and speak to the issues related to contract cheating. This event demonstrated the willingness of international experts to share their ideas and was successful largely in part to their informative sessions and the co-operation of international volunteer session moderators. This effort truly demonstrates that it takes a village!

Fifth, the ICAI website was updated to include current information and resources that remain available and downloadable to interested people around the world. While the IDoA is one day a year, there is an opportunity for us to continue building our relationships with each other and work to continue the discussion, research, and action focused against contract cheating. Dr. Roberts, President of ICAI, issued a statement against contract cheating with practical steps to consider at your organizations (https://www.academicintegrity.org/statement-against-contract-cheating/). The video tapes for the twenty hours of live feed are now available through the ICAI website for viewing.

Coming together for the IDoA demonstrated the power that we hold to speak up and out against contract cheating. Consider continuing your efforts and sharing your ideas and successes so that we all benefit from our combined efforts. If you have questions, comments, or ideas that you would like to share, you may contact the chair of the international planning group at  Please take care, stay safe, and remain positive.

The University of Queensland is a large metropolitan research-intensive institution, which predominantly uses face-to-face or blended curriculum delivery. Academic integrity is a high priority, focused on ensuring robust policies, education for students and staff, support for staff in assessment design, and clear processes for detection, investigation, and disciplinary action for breaches.

Academic integrity work was seriously tested in 2020, with the transition to rapid remote delivery (RRD) of teaching and learning, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The shift to online assessment, with minimal time for curriculum change, placed unprecedented pressure on teaching staff. The academic integrity discourse shifted as face-to-face invigilated examinations were now invigilated online or transitioned to non-invigilated assessments. Academic developers in central units and faculties rapidly prepared just-in-time online academic integrity resources, led professional conversations and consultations, and supported central decision-making, while seeking to ground practice in established academic integrity evidence-based principles.

In both formal and informal settings, students communicated they were experiencing higher stress levels related to their study and future uncertainties. Academic integrity research identifies stress as a predictor for student cheating behaviour (McCabe et al. 1999; Brimble 2016; Tindall & Curtis 2020).  Under COVID-19 conditions, we were conscious that more students may be vulnerable to the persuasive marketing messages of online contract cheating services (Rowland et al. 2018), find more opportunities to cheat (Bretag et al. 2018) and/or engage in collusion with other students, previously connected in the face-to-face learning mode.

What have we learned from our COVID-19 academic integrity experience so far?

Overall, academic integrity profiles as a key risk.  Yet, the rapid transition to online assessment did not allow for a risk assessment of academic integrity breaches. Facing these new challenges accelerated the urgency to communicate existing academic integrity messages with students, with academic development staff facilitating outreach messages to students about their academic integrity obligations and the dangers of cheating, particularly through contract cheating sites.

Academic integrity was considered an important principle to maintain in this situation, however, under intense pressure, the balance between organisational practice and educative approaches had the potential to become skewed. Increasing pressures due to COVID-19 and new assessment techniques resulted in unfamiliar situations for both staff and students. Non-invigilated online assessment allowed more scope for cheating, yet more difficult to detect. Notwithstanding, decision makers reported an uplift in the number of hearings to address suspected cases of academic integrity breaches.

We were underprepared to respond to academic misconduct through curriculum development and online assessment design. Many assessment tasks were simply shifted from face-to- face to online, with little or no redesign. Further, our learning management systems are designed for face-to-face learning and a quick transition to online assessment delivery presented various system challenges. Academic integrity, although important, was not the primary focus. Urgent delivery and assessment solutions were required.

Change fatigue motivates a preference to return to our ‘normal’ academic integrity support programs. However, new markets and new expectations will require ongoing redesign of assessment that is authentic, measures learning outcomes and can be completed with assurance of academic integrity.


Bretag, T, Harper, R, Burton, M, Ellis, C, Newton, P, Rozenberg, P, Saddiqui, S & van Haeringen, K (2018) Contract cheating: a survey of Australian university students, Studies in Higher Education. doi: 10.1080/03075079.2018.1462788

Brimble, M (2016) Why Students Cheat: An Exploration of the Motivators of Student Academic Dishonesty in Higher Education In: Bretag T. (ed) Handbook of Academic Integrity (pp. 365-382). Springer, Singapore. https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.uq.edu.au/10.1007/978-981-287-098-8

McCabe, D, Trevino, L & Butterfield, K (1999) ‘Academic Integrity in Honor Code and Non-Honor Code Environments A Qualitative Investigation’, The Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 70, No.2, pp. 211-234.

Rowland, S, Slade, C, Wong, K & Whiting, B (2018) ‘‘Just turn to us’: the persuasive features of contract cheating websites,’ Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 43, No. 4, pp. 652-665. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2017.1391948

Tindall, I & Curtis, G (2020) ‘Negative Emotionality Predicts Attitudes Toward Plagiarism’, Journal of Academic Ethics, Vol. 18, pp.89-102. doi.org/10.1007/s10805-019-09343-3


Christine Slade (University of Queensland)

Professor Karen Benson (University of Queensland): Her role includes leadership of the academic integrity agenda at UQ and oversight of programs for academic integrity officers. In 2020 she led the implementation of online invigilation, engaging an external provider, in response to COVID-19.

La pandemia de Covid-19 que estamos viviendo a nivel mundial, en este 2020, está suponiendo nuevos desafíos para todo el mundo, incluyendo la educación superior. La mayoría de las universidades han tenido que pasar a esquemas de educación en línea o por lo menos híbridas (combinando la presencialidad con la virtualidad).

Esto ha conllevado tener que readaptar metodologías y pedagogías para lograr mantener la calidad de la enseñanza en entornos virtuales, así como, crear ambientes de aprendizaje propicios para los estudiantes y algunos otros retos, entre los que se destaca la integridad académica.

Muchas de las medidas de integridad académica hasta ahora, se han basado en el control de tener al alumnado presente físicamente para poder vigilar ciertas condiciones de la evaluación. Esto, por supuesto, cambió drásticamente con la pandemia y ha hecho que los profesores busquen nuevas alternativas para evitar la deshonestidad académica en sus clases.

Según Butler-Henderson & Crawford (2020), los estudiantes en su mayoría, sienten que es más fácil copiar en exámenes en línea que en exámenes regulares. Por ello, la mentalidad sobre el control absoluto debe cambiar y trabajarse en dos líneas:

  • La primera, un nuevo diseño de nuestros instrumentos de evaluación, que impida el plagio, en donde la aplicación de los conocimientos sea la clave y donde el estudiante pueda evidenciar claramente sus aprendizajes, con independencia de utilizar los recursos que tenga a su alrededor.
  • La segunda, y creo que la más importante, trabajar en una cultura de responsabilidad e integridad. Uno de los grandes problemas que existe en la actualidad, es que los alumnos consideren como normal la existencia de comportamientos deshonestos. Un estudio de Reskala (2019, p. 164) indica que “el 90% de los participantes señalan haber visto a otro estudiante copiar”.

Creo que esta segunda línea es clave para lograr cambios efectivos en modalidades presenciales, pero, sobre todo, en la formación en línea. Debemos generar en los estudiantes una conciencia de actuar con integridad y responsabilidad desde el momento que cursan cualquier materia, especialmente, cuando realizan sus evaluaciones; porque, si lo logramos, no solo tendremos estudiantes íntegros, sino también, ciudadanos íntegros.


Butler-Henderson, K., & Crawford, J. (2020). A systematic review of online examinations: A pedagogical innovation for scalable authentication and integrity. Comput Educ, 159, 104024. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2020.104024

Reskala, F. (2020). Nuevos comportamientos de deshonestidad académica en estudiantes mexicanos: Un estudio exploratorio. Informes Psicológicos, 20(2), pp. 155-170 http://dx.doi.org/10.18566/infpsic.v20n2a11

In the middle of the Spring 2020 academic term, schools were suddenly forced to adapt themselves to a completely online offer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Professors were forced to learn, change, and adjust their courses on the fly. Now, in the middle of a complete online academic system, colleagues from the Engineering Department of Universidad de Monterrey (UDEM) are constantly exchanging their best practices, not only in terms of teaching activities but evaluation practices that we think are among the most effective to prevent plagiarism and assess the students learning according to these new circumstances.

In a pleasant virtual atmosphere of camaraderie, nice ideas have been proposed, replicated, complemented, and given feedback by the peers. This is a summary of them:

Work harder on the exams

Despite the effort that this implies, we are in dire need of changing the format, content, and dynamics of our exams. The most common actions are:

  • Design more and more questions; enlarge our pools of closed questions.
  • Set the available time to a reasonable but tight time.
  • Do not repeat exams from previous terms, especially if they contain closed questions. Modifying and personalize critical values in engineering problems always work to change a question. For example, using the last digits of the IDs.
  • Increase the open questions where small answers are enough.
  • Foster the “writing in your own words” questions.
  • Request the submission of support files (with calculations, images, graphs, videos, etc.)
  • Design the evaluation with more challenging open questions with free (but tight) time and open book and notes.
  • Add a little of competition.
  • The submission time can be graded. Early submissions can be rewarded.
  • Run programming codes that track file’s origin.
  • Ask for small videos (1 to 3 minutes) in which students prepare an elevator speech of their work.

Squeeze the online learning platform

At UDEM we have been using Blackboard platform for years. Now with the conjoint use of Zoom, we have learned to make the most of many of their features:

  • All cameras on, as a compulsory requirement to present an exam.
  • Enable the random order of questions from larger pools.
  • One question at a time, prohibiting backtracking.
  • Forcing completion with automatic submission when time is up.
  • Generation of calculated formula questions.
  • Using Lockdown browsers when possible.
  • Individual rooms in Zoom with everybody sharing their screen in their own rooms, where students can ask their individual questions without interrupting others.
  • Recording the sessions.

Change the exams

I mean the activity itself, not just the instrument. This implies to increase the intensity of active learning activities, POL, PBL, gamification, among other learning techniques, that can be applied at home. Examples that we have used in our engineering classes are:

  • Home-made short experiments with kitchen recipes or with paper airplanes in the Design of Experiments class.
  • A pendulum lab with coins in the Physics class.
  • Analysis of household materials in the Materials class.
  • Legos assembly in the Manufacturing class.
  • Identification and priorization of risks at home, in the Industrial Security class.
  • Autonomous and preventive maintenance to home appliances and family automobiles.
  • 5’s project at home in the Quality class.
  • The use of collaborative apps to innovation and improvement projects at home (Agile, Kanban, Scrum, etc.).
  • Application of the continuous improvement cycle with simple experiments, such as a balloon and a pin.
  • Mechatronic projects for home: smart mailbox, home security system, smart rice cooker, safe with remote activation, automatic irrigation system for the garden, etc.

Not all is for worse

It is very gratifying to perceive the student’s satisfaction of seeing the results of their engineering projects applied at home, and sharing them with their families. In addition, some activities’ features allay their stress such as clearer and simpler questions, more detailed instructions, and less stressing conditions (e.g. open resources).

It is our job to create an environment in which we all understand that there is a trade-off between the freedoms that we enjoy in a virtual learning environment and the renunciation of certain comforts that we used to enjoy in face-to-face learning. For us, as teachers, definitely, any of these options demand much more work. No doubt about it! What it takes to create a virtual environment that prevents cheating and foster true learning.

Los retos de la integridad académica en la educación a distancia son posibles de vencer y esto se demostró en el 8.° Congreso de Integridad Académica “Conecta y transforma con integridad” llevado a cabo el pasado 24 y 25 de septiembre, que unió a más de 550 personas de 11 países, quienes de manera entusiasta, y con gran apertura, escucharon las conferencias a través de la pantalla y participaron interactivamente entre ellos.

Conferencistas de gran trayectoria en el tema de integridad académica y representantes de universidades de reconocido prestigio como Thomas Lancaster, de Imperial College London; Irene Gendinning, de Coventry University (Londres); Sarah E. Eaton, de University of Calgary (Canadá) y  Rowena Harper, de Edith Cowen University (Australia) nos compartieron diversas estrategias para detectar trabajos que han sido “comprados” por estudiantes así como algunas prácticas que sirven para promover las ventajas de un aprendizaje libre de trampa y sin atajos que permita a los estudiantes dar lo mejor de sí,  y que al mismo tiempo se reconozca a la integridad académica como un camino de éxito para su vida académica y profesional.

Conectar e interactuar con los estudiantes parece ser fácil, sin embargo, el lograr involucrarlos y evaluarlos, requiere de estrategia y creatividad, así lo expresaron Alejandra Calderón, de la Universidad Panamericana (México) y el Dr. Douglas Harrison, de University of Maryland (Estados Unidos) al mostrarnos a través de sus ponencias las diferentes plataformas y herramientas tecnológicas que pueden ser utilizadas en el aula para hacer la enseñanza más dinámica y la evaluación más justa.

Jennifer Wright, de University of South Florida (Estados Unidos) señaló lo importante e imprescindible de involucrar a los estudiantes para lograr un programa de integridad de éxito.

Para comprender y apoyar a los estudiantes, hay que conocer la psicología del por qué hacen trampa, así lo expresó en su charla el Dr. David Rettinger, de University of Mary Washington (Estados Unidos).

El Dr. Paul Sopcak y Courtney Cullen, de MacEwan University (Canadá) y University of Georgia (Estados Unidos) respectivamente, coincidieron en que las trampas en el estudio y la deshonestidad académica no definen a un estudiante, sino que, podrían representar oportunidades para continuar con su formación académica. Por ello, recomendaron gestionarlas a través de la  justicia restaurativa, para así, llevar a los estudiantes a la reflexión y crecimiento tanto académico como personal.

La Mtra. Antonieta Martínez, de la Universidad Panamericana (México); la Dra. Sandra Gudiño, del Tec de Monterrey (México)y el Ing. Jean Guerrero, de la Universidad de Monterrey (México) nos compartieron los resultados de investigaciones para considerar la integridad académica como una tarea urgente, así como también los aspectos éticos y educativos de las evaluaciones en el nuevo entorno digital como responsabilidad compartida para construir una cultura de integridad académica.

Siguiendo con el objetivo de incentivar a otras universidades a construir redes colaborativas, Amanda Mckenzie, de University of Waterloo (Canadá) platicó su experiencia y los elementos necesarios para hacerlo, así como también el Rector José Antonio Herrera, de la Universidad Vasco de Quiroga (México), quien expresó los esfuerzos que se realizan en el Estado de Michoacán por implementar el tema de la integridad académica entre las universidades que forman parte de la Red Juntos por Michoacán.

Durante un momento del programa se reconoció emotivamente el trabajo tan exhaustivo de uno de los pilares de la integridad académica en el mundo, la Dra. Tracey Bretag, de University of South Australia; con quién sin duda alguna, muchos de los conferencistas y también en la Universidad de Monterrey estamos muy agradecidos por su apoyo y acompañamiento para fortalecer este importante tema en México y Latinoamérica.

Sin duda alguna, el 8.° Congreso de Integridad Académica fue de mucho aprendizaje y esperamos coincidir nuevamente en la novena edición de este congreso en 2021. En tanto, seguiremos trabajando y continuando en sumar esfuerzos para continuar permeando la cultura de integridad académica.

The (2010) article The Shadow Scholar by the infernal Ed Dante jolted many academics into awareness of ghostwriting in academia. Soon proclaimed as one of the most widely-read pieces in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s history, the article made it impossible to ignore the issue. However, little dialog was occurring – at least in N. America, and with apparently few exceptions in the UK, it seemed hardly to be taking place globally either.

I became entrenched in the topic in 2012 through an international student I knew who was enrolled in a UK postgraduate program. Sadly, she had contracted out her MA thesis and shared with me – after the fact – all the communication and dimensions of the custom writing industry, still in relative infancy. Such exposure and further research into the market made me develop and share at the ICAI Texas conference (2013) “The ‘Promise’ of Ghostwriting – Unique Voices & Service Sophistication.” The session was not swarming with delegates – as was the case in sessions focused on plagiarism – leading one attendee who was later to become a distinguished researcher on the topic declare: “this is one of the most important presentations happening at this conference and there’s only a few of us here!” Growing pains aside, few really wanted to know this ‘baby’.

However, a critical mass had clearly begun to incubate and an idea beginning to take shape at a later ICAI conference (Vancouver, 2015). Outside the formal conference sessions, an informal discussion at an added end-of-day meeting was meant to explore political advocacy – developing a hub to move Ontario legislation forward on the growing essay mill problem – and later hopefully serve as a model for other geographic areas. Attendance was by invitation, with some participants having a legal background while others simply maintained a strong desire not to stay idle on “the contract cheating problem.” That day, a couple of ICAI Board members working intently with a handful of others shared possible legal options by informing us of The Contract Cheating Advocacy Project.

Back then, the fact that so many colleagues were utterly ignorant of student outsourcing of academic work, the dimensions of the commercial industry and the ramifications to the education sector made those of us attending that ad hoc meeting recognize the critical need for concerted efforts.

Labor & the IDoA

The 1st IDoA (2016) saw the creation of a tool kit to assist first registrants to the initiative – 22 in total. Showcasing of individual IDoA success stories over the next two years and the subsequent ‘adoption’ of the initiative by ‘parent figures’ (a planning committee) saw the numbers in the 4th IDoA (2019) more than quintuple to 117! This past year’s addition of an international Student Steering Committee to the Planning Committee has harnessed youthful insight, critical to the initiative’s further development and leadership. This 5th IDoA hopes to reach 200+.

While global challenges in the form of pandemics may be daunting in different ways, they cannot thwart our continued effort. This year, the impact of our virtual messages on the IDoA will hopefully be even stronger during our Live Feed as we come together to discuss and share our overall integrity messages as a global community.

At the end of the day – or the 20 hours – we will surely prove the adage: it takes a village – because we are a village!

Join our growing global community on 21 October; keep nurturing the child that allows us to speak up and out against contract cheating.