The mass transition to remote and online learning has certainly presented many challenges, not the least of which has been an increase in the opportunity for students to engage in academic dishonesty.   This has been made especially evident in service-level mathematics courses.  Applications such as Mathway and Symbolab have made it very easy for students to access step-by-step problem solutions while working on course assignments, including online exams.   In 2020, the number of questions posted to between April and August reportedly increased by nearly 200% over the same time-period in the previous year (Lancaster & Cotarlan, 2021).  While there are many strategies for improving and protecting online exam integrity, including the use of multiple exam versions, randomizing question order, and utilizing online proctoring services, no method is foolproof.  The online proctoring service ProctorU administered 340,000 exams in the first three months of 2020 with fewer than 1% cases of cheating.  However, over the course of April, May, and June, the number of administered exams vaulted to 1.3 million while the percentage of students caught cheating rose to more than 8% (Newton, 2020).

One way that we can encourage a culture of academic integrity is to increase instructor immediacy.  Instructor immediacy can be thought of as the behavior that decreases the perceived separation between students and the instructor.   Immediacy is about showing our students that we care; and that we are accessible.  There is a connection between instructor immediacy and academic integrity.   Indeed, it has been shown that instructor immediacy has a significant impact in encouraging honor-code compliance (LoShiavo & Shatz, 2011).  It has also been shown that instructor behavior evaluations were lower among students who had self-reportedly engaged in academic dishonesty (Stearns, 2001).  We can embolden students to embrace academy integrity by increasing our instructor presence.

One way to begin establishing presence would be to create and post a welcome video for students at the beginning of each semester.  You can use this video to introduce yourself, discuss the syllabus, and to briefly provide an outline of your course setup in the LMS.  This allows the students an opportunity to see your face and hear your voice.  I like to email a link to this video on the Friday before classes begin.

It is also important to be proactive in contacting struggling students.  If a student misses or underperforms on an assignment, send a quick email to let the student know that you noticed.  Use this contact as an opening to ask how everything is going.  This gives you an opportunity to initiate a conversation with the student regarding any issues with which they may be dealing.  In my experience, students are more likely to respond to my email and share their situation when they might not have initiated the conversation on their own.  Make it a point, also, to periodically send messages to students who are doing well.  We all like to feel recognized.  Sending out some quick kudos is a good way to acknowledge student performance while illustrating that you are paying attention.  This strategy is not as time consuming as it might seem.  I often use an email template so that I can copy-paste, and then personalize.              

Post weekly course announcements to remind your students of upcoming assignments or to give an overview of what is to come in the class.  If your class is asynchronous, you might consider recording a quick announcement video.  This will give your students another opportunity to see your face and further shows that you are a real person with whom they can communicate.

Finally, do not try to be perfect.  It can be beneficial to your students to know that you are adjusting just as they are.  When courses at my institution pivoted to a remote format in March 2020, I found myself teaching from home with two small children.  As much as I tried to limit class interruptions, they were inevitable, whether it be a herd of wild dinosaurs parading through my living room or a full-on temper-tantrum.  I was nervous that these encounters would detract from the learning experience.  However, getting a glimpse into my life was humanizing.  Students began to ask about my kids.  These students were, then, more likely to ask questions about course material or even attend virtual office hours. 

By increasing our presence and creating connections with our students, we can create an environment in which students are comfortable discussing course materials or other issues.  This will increase motivation and decrease stress and anxiety.  In doing so, we can encourage a culture of academic integrity. 


Lancaster, T., & Cotarlan, C. (2021). Contract Cheating by STEM Students through a fil sharing website: A COVID-19 Pandemic Perspective. International Journal for Educational Integrity. Obtenido de

LoShiavo, F. M., & Shatz, M. A. (2011). The Impact of an Honor code on Cheating in Online Courses. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. Obtenido de

Newton, D. (7 de August de 2020). Another Problem with Shifting Education Online: A Rise in Cheating. Obtenido de The Washington Post:

Stearns, S. (2001). The Student-Instructor Rrelationship's Effect on Academic Integrity. Ethics and Behavior, 11(3), 275-285.