About the orientation 

The orientation for students enrolled in online undergraduate programs at the University of Arkansas is a facilitated two-week course offered prior to their first semester. Various information and assessments are covered in the course to help students get orientated to the technology and the systems used at the university. Some of those assessments include preparing a weekly calendar, writing a short paper about ethics in the workplace, creating a success plan, etc. Students are not required to participate in this course.  

Lesson Structure and Assessments 

We can't discuss the orientation without mentioning our start student, Yvonne! She's a fictional character that we developed to give our students a different perspective. Most advice in the orientation comes from their very own friend, Yvonne.  Here's a brief outline of the lessons that are in the orientation: 

Lesson 1  
This lesson covers their motivation and strengths for online learning, support services, sharing expectations with friends and family, setting up a study space, and learning how to use Blackboard.  

Lesson 2 

This lesson covers analyzing syllabi, creating a schedule, netiquette, and accommodations.  

Lesson 3 

This lesson covers the writing assignment using library resources and the writing center. 

Lesson 4 

This lesson covers math anxiety, study strategies, and resources, preparing for exams, and creating a success plan.  

Multi-faceted Approach in Highlighting Academic Integrity 

The orientation was initially developed for our nursing program, which saw a boom in enrollments a few years back. Students enrolled in the program were working nurses looking to advance in their careers. A writing assessment that links their day-to-day lives at work to academic integrity was an eye-opener for most of our students. We later adopted this to all our undergraduate programs, where students were asked to link the ethics of their profession to academic integrity.  

The writing prompt: 

Write a minimum 1.5-page paper that discusses the relationship between academic dishonesty and workplace ETHICS related to your field of study. Using at least three reliable, peer-reviewed sources from the library, draw conclusions about the most common incidents that occur in your field. What conclusions does each of your sources come to?  

To help students structure their papers, we have prepared videos that walk them through understanding a writing prompt, finding resources, and structuring their papers. We also offer workshops hosted by the writing center tutors. 

The writing assignment is not the only area where we focus on academic integrity. We also teach them about the integrity policy at the university and give them scenario-based questions (created using commonly seen cases) that will help them understand some things they may see when interacting with other students.  

Data, Thoughts from Students, and Lessons Learned 

Here are some things our students have said about their experience with the writing assignment: 

"Thinking about these articles, they really make sense. If you are okay cheating in the classroom, then what is going to stop you from cheating at work." 

"I must admit that I never considered the impact associated with cheating or plagiarizing work on my medical career." 

"It would be difficult for me to cheat at school only to be turned around and placed in a sort of “spotlight” when working through a complaint or issue an employee was having." 

"The more understanding that is placed on the correlation between academic dishonesty and workplace ethics the more it can help reduce the influence of cheating and increase the credibility of communication field." 

As expected, not every student completed all the assignments. In Fall 2022, 63.4% of the enrolled students turned in a submission for the writing assignment. We understand that a writing assignment is a heavy task, so we continue improving it and its resources by working with the writing center and the library.  



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