Understanding that cheating is not worth the risk, may be a more effective means to deter many students from cheating than solely appealing to their morality or their need to abide by university regulations. This video discusses 5 common academic cheating methods and their short- and long-term consequences. It provides real-life examples of the negative outcomes of engaging in such behavior. With students increasingly being aggressively targeted directly by contract cheating firms, the video takes the approach that it is better to forewarn students than to hope they will not encounter such solicitations. The video, created by two university professors, is available on youtube, is commercial free, and uses an animated character to walk students through real-life news clips and research studies to show the risks involved. Video link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niMb2ZyVkmc 

Motivating students to engage in college writing and understand principles of academic integrity can be challenging. Doing so when the language of instruction is a foreign one can be even more challenging. And doing all that during a pandemic is – tough. Following curfews, lockdowns, and a move to online classes, motivation has waned, frustration has soared. Yet, this year of Covid-induced struggles has shown that some techniques can help promote academic integrity and discourage contract cheating.

Existing techniques to discourage and address breaches of integrity such as plagiarism and collusion remain effective, but less so when it comes to ghost-writing. Academic dishonesty can be curbed by helping students feel they do not need to, and should not, cheat because their professor is acquainted with their work, through assignment scaffolding with consistent activities in and outside the classroom, plus regular feedback. The use of plagiarism detection software such as Turnitin as a learning tool can serve to explain ethical academic practices. And when a breach does happen, it can be identified. Turnitin is the perfect informant (why a student, knowing submissions will be discussed in class, submits plagiarized material eludes me!). What is now more difficult is handling ghost-written material. In face-to-face classes, professors are familiar with students’ writing styles and like other educators, I have begun reading an essay, initially smiling happily because the student had done so well, but then frowning despairingly because the essay was clearly not the product of the authorial voice I had witnessed in class.  A year ago, I would arrange a face-to-face meeting, and students usually, albeit grudgingly, accepted responsibility. With online classes, however, detecting and proving ghost-written material is sometimes impossible, given that you may have never met or spoken with the student, have never witnessed the drafting of even one sentence; and should you suspect, virtual meetings to discuss the incident may prove futile, with the student sometimes not even turning on their camera. What I have come to realize is the need for recursive demonstration that academic integrity a) matters to me b) should matter to them c) can be achieved d) is something desirable.

Some techniques I found worked to achieve this: 

  • Repeated class discussions on reasons for cheating and practical consequences. As students have told me:
  • They hear, especially now without a physical classroom, that others are struggling just as much as they are with topics, assignments, language. This sense of shared difficulty has served as a deterrent against asking for outside assistance. 
  • They realize long-term negative consequences of plagiarism for the social whole, through questions such as whether they would trust a doctor for performing heart surgery or a lawyer for handling a murder charge, knowing these individuals had cheated their way through university.  
  • They understand the value of learning, not just getting grades and a degree.
  • They view academic integrity as something positive to strive for, not something associated with penalties. 
  • Random selection of respondents, through an online dice roller (shared screen), instead of waiting for the usual two-three students to raise their hand. 
  • Surprisingly, students enjoy it, develop deeper understanding of material, and ultimately, feel sufficiently confident to not need outside assistance. 
  • I get the opportunity to become familiar with students’ way of expressing themselves, which may facilitate the detection of ghost-written material.
  • Submission of an integrity pledge that also states they are proud of their work and time invested, alongside each formal assignment. This serves as a recurrent opportunity to get students to assume ownership of their work and gradually, even if somewhat artificially, associate pride with their efforts, not just with a good grade. 
  • Additional evaluation of assignments (incorporated in the participation grade), to reduce potential involvement of a ghost-writer, on:  
  • Use of only assigned and annotated sources or, if own research was conducted, approved and annotated sources.
  • Inclusion of a complete Works Cited, of material actually used.
  • Attendance at an individual conference to discuss first drafts.
  • Extent of feedback consideration. 

When unethical practices are common in entertainment, business, politics, it is no wonder many young minds may feel that cheating in college is, comparatively, not that tragic. And, at a time when a pandemic is depriving them of their freedoms and possibly their loved ones, to be asked to care so much about a college-essay may be annoying and seem excessive. We, as educators, however, have the responsibility – and the privilege – to find ways to make integrity both achievable and desirable, for both that annoying college-essay and post-college life.

Since 1992, the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI) has worked with academic communities around the globe to promote a culture of academic integrity and discourage academic misconduct.  Since ICAI’s founding, contract cheating, defined below, has emerged as a world-wide concern. 

“The term contract cheating describes the form of academic dishonesty where students get academic work completed on their behalf, which they then submit for academic credit as if they had created it themselves.” (contractcheating.com)

Members and leaders of ICAI work on the front lines with students, instructors, and educational institutions to uphold the integrity of the degrees and certificates their institutions confer.  

In the past, contract cheating was often accomplished student-to-student. Now, in addition to this avenue, we (the members and leaders of ICAI) are seeing students turn to online companies advertising to “help” a student, when in fact, they undermine teaching and learning. Here are a few examples of this: 

  • Students look to internet sites for the exact question/problem/scenario given to them from their instructors.
  • If the student is unable to find the question/problem/scenario, they post the exact (or very similar) question(s) online for someone to answer.
  • Students copy the provided answer directly from the online source without spending time to understand it or check it for errors.
  • Students attempt to hide their online activities from institutional authorities by not making their name visible or by logging into “help” sites in a way that cannot be tied to their educational institution ID.

While the behavior of students is concerning, the behaviors exhibited by the so-called “helping” or “tutoring” websites are more concerning still.  The following are examples of such behaviors:

  • Allowing students to register with a non-institutional identifying email – in essence allowing them to hide or make it more difficult for educational institutions to know who has viewed or posted information.
  • Creating hurdles for educational administrators and instructors who are trying to get information about the posts and/or remove posts of copyrighted materials.
  • Requiring educational administrators and instructors to buy an account to monitor the illegal posting of copyrighted or otherwise-prohibited materials, to check if academic assignments and tests have been shared, and to determine who shared these materials and who has accessed them, both of which are academic offenses. 
  • Blackmailing students by threatening to notify their educational institutions that the student has been accessing unauthorized materials or assistance.

Especially on this day, the International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating, ICAI is taking a stand to say that these behaviors are wrong and do not create the culture of academic integrity that we as an association and our members strive for. 

We ask our members and other educational providers worldwide to take a stand as well.  This can be seen in a variety of ways:

  1. Blocking various internet sites that claim to “help” students but that promote academic misconduct and fraud
  2. Creating strong syllabus statements telling students to avoid these sites and let students know that even looking at them for course help could be an academic offense.
  3. Talking to students about the difference between looking at an answer online and understanding the thought process necessary to generate the answer, which is the goal of learning.
  4. Creating and/or promoting a wide variety of resources (i.e., writing workshops, tutoring centers, counseling services etc.) for students to support their academic success and maintain academic integrity.
  5. Developing course assignments and examinations that are resistant to cheating of any kind.

We also ask online companies to change their behavior, too, by:

  1. Ensure that all users are registered through their institutional email.
  2. Require all users to sign a pledge acknowledging they will uphold the values of academic integrity.
  3. Provide an easy method for challenging copyright and other infringements.

Unfortunately, contract cheating and the market for dishonest online “support” appears to be growing, particularly during the current pandemic. Far from being a benign problem, contract cheating has implications for the credibility of academic degrees, institutional accreditation, and for society as a whole, as the students who engage in contract cheating graduate, enter the workforce, and move into leadership positions. 

As an organization dedicated to enhancing academic integrity,  ICAI specifically denounces companies that profit from helping students cheat. Moreover, we call upon educational institutions, the corporate world, accrediting bodies, and governments to act to promote academic integrity by setting high expectations for themselves and those around them.

#integritymatters, #excelwithintegrity #myownwork

At the International Center for Academic Integrity Conference 2021, I delivered a presentation entitled “Developing an Academic Integrity Research Module for Undergraduate Students”. This detailed my experiences developing and delivering a new academic integrity module for students at Imperial College London.

I’ve advocated for a long time that we need to think of students as our academic integrity partners, not just as people we lecture to about what is right and wrong and how to avoid plagiarism. So, to me, encouraging students to not just champion academic integrity but also to actively conduct research, seems like a natural progression.

The new module I developed ran in its pilot form in Autumn (Fall) 2020. For the first year, it was open only to students on a small number of courses. Next year, it will be available as a credit bearing option across almost all courses at Imperial College London.

Developing a new module of this type is not without its challenges. Putting aside those caused by online delivery and the pandemic, one area I hadn’t fully planned for would be the wide range of academic disciplines, student backgrounds and engagement levels involved. Some students had previously studied ethics and thought this might be an advanced version of their previous subject specific module. None of the students had really looked at research methods before. In general, the students had only considered academic integrity as being the set of rules they had to follow during their academic careers, but had never had the discussion that academic integrity extends much more widely across the educational community (and beyond).

The diverse range of student backgrounds also proved to be a strength, meaning that we could bring in different perspectives and have engaging class discussions. I encouraged students to become reflective practitioners and think about how the ideas we considered applied to their own context. I also made sure we were operating within an environment that was not judgemental.

One thing I discovered is that there is a lot of academic integrity research out there. Even as a researcher in this field, there was more research than I ever expected, with hundreds of papers that had never been cited. It was a useful experience for me to put findings into context and to make sense of everything. I tried to use an examples and case study led approach wherever possible. But there is so much interesting material that this just wouldn’t all fit within a single academic integrity research module.

I was fortunate in that I was able to bring in Dr Irene Glendinning from Coventry University for a guest session, where Irene talked about her own career as an academic integrity researcher and the wider lessons she’d discovered. I had also previously generated internal funding from StudentShapers and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme, so I had been able to partner with students to develop academic integrity research examples. The panel with existing student researchers turned out to be one of the highlights of the module and helped to inspire the new groups to conduct their own research.

In the end, I was very impressed with the research studies produced by the student groups. The students really engaged with the materials. I saw a difference in their views and reflection as the module went on. We ended the module with a group of students seemingly much more willing to act with courage when addressing academic integrity challenges. I also saw my views develop as well. I already know our students are capable of being active members of our community, but I now know they can be valued research partners as well.

I’m already looking forward to delivering this module next year. I have some material updates planned, some more content I’d like to include and the difficult question to consider, what do I take out? I encourage other academics and educational institutions to consider developing an academic integrity research module in partnership with their students.

Happy Finals season to all of our readers far and wide! We hope that you have enjoyed reading the Integrity Matters Blog over the last academic year. Today, I want to share with you the process for curating and developing the blog posts you read each week.

This blog is a collaborative effort. It would not survive without the hard work of the editing team. We currently have five rotating editors that review and write blogs to ensure that you receive new content each and every week. Some days, like today, one person serves as both the editor and author of the blog. Other days, we ask outside experts to share thoughts, ideas, and opinions on topics related to academic integrity. Once the editor receives a blog post, they review it. Provided the post is not a marketing or promotional post for a product, it is considered for publication. 

At this point, I wish to issue a disclaimer: the ICAI blog is a weekly publication written by guest contributors from around the world. The views expressed are the author’s own and not necessarily those of the International Center for Academic Integrity. If and when the International Center for Academic Integrity expresses a position, they will release an official statement, such as the statement on contract cheating found here

You may have a different opinion than the blog post you see in your inbox. If you do, I am glad you are still reading and would encourage you to consider submitting your own blog post for review! The opinions of all of our members and the academic community at large are valuable as this field continues to grow and expand. Do you have some research you want to share? I hope that you will write about it. Did you successfully pilot a new pedagogical technique that promotes integrity? Consider authoring an instructional post to help other faculty, practitioners, and students. Guidelines to submit a blog post can be found here.

If you would like to help with blog content, and you are an ICAI member, consider joining the Content Committee. A committee is a group of volunteers working to develop and create blog posts, webinars, and other works.

Like many institutions around the U.S. and Canada, my university has seen an unprecedented rise in the number of academic dishonesty incidents involving social messaging apps (GroupMe and WhatsApp) this year. Fortunately, our institutional leadership took this seriously and formed a task force comprised of colleagues from different vantage points at the university. Our goal was straightforward: produce recommendations for addressing (1) how to deter mass academic dishonesty incidents facilitated by social messaging apps,  (2) how to reduce the impact to a course when they occur, and (3) to use this opportunity to further promote academic integrity on our campus.

The group was comprised of representatives from:

  • Student Government Leadership
  • Faculty Council Committee on Teaching and Learning.
  • The Registrar
  • The University Testing Center
  • The Student Disability Center
  • Student Conduct Services
  • Faculty Committee on Scholastic Standards
  • The Academic Integrity Program

Over the course of four weeks, we met for intensive conversations on the subject, tried to understand the problem, listened to the viewpoints shared by the members, and crafted steps the campus could take to reduce the number of potential incidents as we plunged towards finals (which, on our campus, would be conducted after transitioning to a period of remote learning post- spring break).

In the end, we settled on two mass emails: one to students and one to faculty. The recommendations we delivered are not groundbreaking, but they do serve as a clear plan for how to best weather the next few weeks. These emails accomplish multiple things:

  1. Increase awareness of the apps and the challenge they posed to a course’s final assessment in a remote environment.
  2. Give faculty clear steps to help prevent or limit academic dishonesty.
  3. Communicate to students and faculty the value our institution places on academic integrity.

You can find a copy of our letter to the faculty here.

You can find a copy of our letter to students here.

I’m sharing here so that anyone in a position similar to the one we were in can use these emails as the starting point for their own approach. If you find something helpful in this, please feel free to use and adapt as you see fit.

A note on disseminating these letters:

  • We planned for the faculty letter to be shared via Faculty Council representatives and the leadership structures of the different colleges.
  • The student letter is intended to come from our Dean of Students, cosigned by our campus student government leadership.

Next steps:

We are following this coordinated communication with a series of ads designed and promoted by our university social media group. These will run during the last weeks of our semester and through finals.

Once the semester is over, the task force is moving to a permanent status. Our hope is to continue leveraging the different viewpoints and ideas to keep our campus ahead of the next big disruptive issue in academic integrity. The future is uncertain, but approaching it with a sense of resolve (and a little bit of hope) seems right.

New Open-Access Writing Textbook graphic

Mindful Technical Writing: An Introduction to the Fundamentals is an open textbook we co-authored specifically to support student success in co-requisite pairings of developmental writing and introduction to technical writing; however, the text’s modular design is flexible enough for use in a variety of college-level writing course applications. The book is available for no-cost download: to access it from the Open Textbook Library, follow this link. The book is housed in the OER Commons as well, and available through this link.

Attending to Academic Integrity

Montana Technological University is an institutional member of the ICAI, and on October 16, 2019, the university’s Writing Program facilitated a campus education and outreach event coincidental with the International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating. Interactive activities included a board game called Defeat the Cheat and a chart-your-own-course experience in which participants ‘escape’ with their integrity (or not) based on the paths they choose through a scenario designed to test their understanding of academic integrity.

Additionally, the institution’s writing instructors invited responses from students, faculty, and staff to prompts about academic integrity. The prompts and some participant responses are excerpted below:

We were among the writing faculty who facilitated this awareness event, and we were pleased to learn that the outcomes supported our efforts to address critical concepts – like the importance of academic integrity – in our recently-published open textbook.

Students in developmental writing and college-level technical writing courses likely benefit from focused lessons intended to build skills that lead to academic success. In support of faculty and programs that value combining study skills work with discipline-specific instruction and a linked curriculum, our book provides ample opportunities for learners to discuss and demonstrate the ICAI’s fundamental values of “honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage” (ICAI, 2021, pg. 4). This new textbook offers multiple chapters that integrate the principles of academic integrity throughout the examples and exercises. For example, consider the following excerpt from page 270 of our “Managing Time” chapter:

Supporting Academic Success

In a co-requisite pairing, students who place into a remedial class can enroll simultaneously in a college-level and accompanying developmental course. The developmental segment of the co-requisite arrangement supports students’ success in the college-level class by combining study skills work with discipline-specific instruction and a linked curriculum.

This book’s repeated focus on academic integrity is encouraging since students in the co-requisite pairing of developmental writing and introduction to technical writing will need to hone their ethical source integration skills to be successful in their studies and can look to the textbook chapters for explicit instructional guidance in what academic integrity means and implicit guidance on how it is demonstrated in a writing product.

Mindful Technical Writing: An Introduction to the Fundamentals employs a modular design to maximize flexibility of use. By interlacing new material with reviews of key topics, such as academic integrity, and combining practical guidance with interactive exercises and thoughtfully designed writing opportunities, it also offers ample coverage of topics and genres. The textbook’s Creative Commons license means instructors can adopt it as is or customize it for their own co-requisite or other writing courses.


The authors gratefully acknowledge funding and support from Montana Technological University’s Faculty Seed Grant Program and the TRAILS (Treasure State Academic Information and Library Services) Open Educational Resources Program through the Office of the Commissioner for Higher Education, which helped to make the textbook a reality.

Co-Author: Stacey Corbitt

Stacey Corbitt is a faculty member of the Writing Program at Montana Technological University. She teaches developmental and college-level courses in co-requisite pairings, as well as stand-alone introductory and advanced writing courses. She earned an M.S. degree in Technical Communication from Montana Tech of the University of Montana (now Montana Technological University). Prior to becoming a full-time writing instructor, she worked as a professional technical writer for private sector businesses and publicly-traded companies in environmental remediation, energy marketing, and public utility service contracting. Her research interests include textbook and course materials development. She values opportunities to mentor students in all disciplines, recognizing that strong writing skills serve professionals well at every career level.


ICAI. (2021). The Fundamental values of academic integrity (3rd ed.). License: CC-BY-NC-SA-4.0. Retrieved from https://www.academicintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/20019_ICAI-Fundamental-Values_R12.pdf

Laptop photo

If we have attended school at some level, we all have taken exams.  Most of my experience with testing had me focusing on the content and the outcome and not the environment.  So what is all of this “hype” about proctoring and academic integrity anyway?  As a director of a university testing center, my focus has shifted from an exam taker to an exam protector.  What are the most critical functions of proctoring and what are the challenges of proctoring either in person or when using an online platform?

There are five things that I feel every student, faculty member, and administrator should know when it comes to proctoring and academic integrity.

  • Don’t “hate” on the proctor! Try to put yourself into the shoes of the person that has been highly trained to perform the duty of making sure the exam is taken according to prescribed instructions.
  • Realize what role the proctor performs. Remember that all exams and exam environments were created to be equal.  The proctor’s job isn’t to catch students cheating, but to create an equal testing environment that all test-takers would be experiencing during the exam.  Proctors exist to be the testers’ advocates!
  • Why is academic integrity such a hot topic? Students may not realize that if the content of exams cannot be protected, the entire program might suffer in the eyes of future employers.  If students continue to cheat, then grades become meaningless, content is not learned/mastered, and the program credibility is compromised.
  • The online proctoring platforms need to have certain requirements in place in order to help protect the student and faculty member. With the onslaught of using a variety of group chats, posting exam content to testing “cheat sites” and other less than desirable methods of taking exams, the online proctoring platform serves as a balance between the acceptable (what you would experience in a classroom testing setting) and the unacceptable. The platform isn’t there to spy on you but to ensure that the exam environment is equal and level for all students.
  • Why you are testing in a proctored environment? One day, you will receive a diploma – one you have worked tirelessly to earn.  It is in your best interest to do your part to protect exam content (do not be tempted to share with friends/classmates), abide by the proctor’s or proctoring platform’s guidelines, and focus on learning. When you “cheat” you cheat yourself out of possible job opportunities, scholarships, and awards. Don’t enable someone else to benefit from your hard work.

As you prepare to take an exam, give an exam, evaluate a program, or mediate an academic misconduct hearing, please bear in mind the intended outcome of each process.  The goal is for students to thrive and achieve, faculty to teach, and administrators to oversee programs and staff.  As the Testing Center Director, I want all of our customers to feel like they have received quality, professional service; making it less stressful for all.

Last year, amid the pandemic, reports emerged that some thirty candidates in the Georgia State Trooper academy were accused of cheating on an online exam. It resonated across the nation because it mirrored the behavior many saw taking place at our universities and colleges. The stakes were much higher, though. The candidates were disciplined severely, many being dismissed from the program and the director and deputy directors of the Georgia Public Safety Commission both resigned. In addition, because the cheating occurred on a test involving the writing of speeding tickets and the cadets had since written almost two hundred tickets, most violations were thrown out.

The article in USA Today described the cheating behavior in detail:

Investigators found the cadets utilized written or typed notes, received direct assistance from another cadet (test   answers), utilized test questions and answers posted by a cadet on the GroupMe online application, and queried an internet search engine for test questions and answers,” the department said.

DPS added two Snapchat group chats were created, which included members of the class. There were 33 members of the 106th Trooper School, the department said — before Wednesday, one was already dismissed, another resigned and a third is on military leave.

According to the DPS, the allegations were:

  • Everyone in the 106th Trooper School Cheated on the Speed Detection Operator Exam
  • A cadet at the time had helped other cadets with their online exams
  • Three cadets at the time had assisted another cadet with passing his exam;
  • A training instructor had printed a written makeup exam and permitted two cadets who had failed the exam to return to their dorm rooms with the make exam and turn it in the next date.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. After all, the behavior described in the reports sounded similar to cheating behavior we saw across higher education last year.  It was a sad story, one that underscored the assault on integrity in a year where remote instruction had necessarily become the norm.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the courtroom.

In January, nearly all of the troopers were cleared by an investigation from the Georgia POST council, an independent council of state government. To be honest, I was surprised. How could the Georgia Department of Public Safety get the investigation so wrong? I read through nearly every article I could find about the POST investigation and the clearing. After all, perhaps there was some takeaway from their investigation that we should consider in higher ed. Perhaps there was something we could use as a case study for our students and for integrity professionals. As I read article after article, they sounded eerily similar. They sounded, frankly, like they had come from the same press release.

Most of these reports reiterated the same blurb about POST’s conclusion: that while the cadets clearly had collaborated without the permission of the instructor, they had not intended to cheat. In summary, it was all a big misunderstanding, despite the fact that the instructor had said, repeatedly, that cadets were told they were not to work together. It’s as if a college professor told her students they couldn’t share notes, talk, or work together while completing an exam, found out they did, and yet was told by a reviewer that they could see inside the student’s mind and ascertain they hadn’t intended to cheat. Worse yet, it appeared that the cadets were asked if they had intended to cheat. Considering that a lifelong career was on the line, the answer they gave was unsurprising.

I wanted to read more and so I kept looking for one of the local news agencies (11 Alive News or even CNN) to link out to a summary report. Most referred to a report, but none of them appeared to have lain eyes on it.

I reached out to an investigative reporter at a local news station and asked if I was just missing it, and if he could point me in the right direction. He responded by saying that, under normal circumstances, he would have run a parallel investigation and requested the report under the open records act. This was not, he said, normal circumstances. Keep in mind, we were only twenty days away from the riot at the US Capitol and the nation held its breath waiting to see how the inauguration of President Biden would transpire. In other words, I could understand why he didn’t have the bandwidth to chase down an old story, especially one that had been presumably cleared by an independent agency. He gave me POST’s contact info and suggested that I request the documents. You know, all 8,000 of them.

So, I did. At least, I reached out to POST, and asked about getting the summary report. This should be easy, after all. It was referenced in the first paragraph of this piece by the AJC.

Turns out, it doesn’t exist. I asked twice. But I was told by a very nice, but very terse public relations person that I was welcome to all 10,000 pages (which she offered to put on a disk for $20), but no summary report would be included. I’m ordering that disk. It turns out that the most comprehensive analysis of the Georgia State Patrol and POST’s investigation was completed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who apparently reviewed the 8,000 pages available to POST and the 1,500 pages provided by the GSP investigation. Their final conclusion? “What mattered to one set of investigators,” they said, “didn’t quite register with the other.”

Now, I’m not sure what any of this adds up to. The executive director of POST, Mike Ayers, must have been referencing something when he made this statement. But did he, alone, read the 10,000 pages covering the actions of 32 fired state troopers? And if not, how did he or the agency overseeing this investigation come to the questionable conclusion that, although they did cheat, the trooper cadets’ intentions were not to cheat, therefore absolving them.

I’m not an investigative reporter. I was a hearing officer for academic misconduct cases for four years, and in that time a student’s “intent to cheat” was never a standard we strove to meet. After all, we can’t peer into someone’s mind and discern their intentions. We have an evidentiary standard and if the evidence meets that standard, the student is found responsible. I understand that law enforcement has a different standard, but doesn’t that underscore how odd this finding was? After all, if you don’t mean to kill someone, but do so anyway, you’re charged with manslaughter. Likewise, if you didn’t “intend” to cheat, but did so, shouldn’t you hold some culpability? It feels weird having to explain this to law enforcement professionals and those overseeing them, but here we are.

There are a lot of reasons why the state of Georgia and POST would have embraced this finding. It was ugly and it made national news.  More troubling is the methodology that it seems that POST employed. Despite the fact that the instructors stated they had made it clear to the cadets that they were not to collaborate (online or otherwise), POST established that the candidates didn’t have the intention to cheat by…asking them if they had intended to cheat. Unsurprisingly, all but one cleared that low bar.

Why does it matter?

Maybe they did sweep this all under the rug, or maybe there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for why these cadets (students) were cleared without the kind of documentation or reasoning people who normally deal with integrity incidents would expect to see.

However, this story does provide a window into the importance of transparent oversight. Without being able to follow the state’s reasoning or the evidence upon which they based that reasoning, questions will remain. Are these cadets truly innocent or were they the beneficiaries of an investigation designed to find them (and their superiors) innocent? The main takeaway for those of us doing academic integrity work is to make sure that our decisions and the methods we use to arrive at them are understandable to the communities we serve. They must also survive the scrutiny of those asking serious questions about what we do. Without that, we’re a bigger punchline than anything Steve Guttenberg could deliver.

The area of math assessment is a rapidly evolving one, and the way educators think about academic integrity in this area needs to evolve with it. Apps which not only solve math problems, but show the steps taken towards the solution, are readily available to students. Meanwhile, “study help” websites allow students writing tests and exams outside of their schools to outsource questions in fast turn-around times.

Are current academic integrity policies equipped to deal with this aspect of remote learning? At which point does the use of these technologies represent cognitive offloading (Dawson, 2021)? In considering ways to address this, what are the effects on the stress levels of students (Eaton & Turner, 2020)?

Join the multidisciplinary Learning Commons team for an interactive session where academic integrity is anchored in teaching and learning (Bertram Gallant, 2016). Participants will leave this session with an improved understanding of math applications and their uses, defining cheating behaviours for specific assessments, and looking at assessment from the student perspective.

Presenters: Lynn Cliplef (Faculty Development Coach), Craig Dedrick (Learning Strategist), Caitlin Munn (Quality Assurance Specialist), and Josh Seeland (Manager, Library Services & Academic Integrity).

Date: Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

Time: 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. (CST)

Capacity: Limited to 40

Platform: Zoom

To register, email: 


Bertram Gallant, T. (2016). Leveraging institutional integrity for the betterment of education. In Bretag, T. (Ed.). Handbook of academic integrity. Springer.​

Dawson, P. (2021). Defending assessment security in a digital world: preventing e-cheating and supporting academic integrity in higher education. Routledge.

Eaton, S. E., & Turner, K. L. (2020). Exploring academic integrity and mental health during COVID-19: Rapid review. Journal of Contemporary Education Theory & Review4(1),35 – 41. ​

Josh Seeland is the Manager, Library Services & Academic Integrity Officer at the Assiniboine Community College (ACC) Library in Brandon, MB, Canada, where his primary duties include research initiatives and library instruction/outreach at ACC locations across Manitoba. He is a member of the Manitoba Academic Integrity Network (MAIN) and chairs ACC’s Academic Integrity Advisory Committee. Seeland holds Bachelor of Arts in History and Philosophy from the University of Manitoba and a diploma in Library and Information Technology from Red River College.