Recently, several articles about the number of cases referred to Offices of Academic Integrity have been released. The University of Wisconsin System has seen an increased number of cases in several of institutions. The Ohio State University case referrals have increased as well. This increase is not limited geographically. The University of Southern California, George Washington University, and countless other institutions around the globe have seen similar issues. Many articles discuss the rapid transition to remote learning, student well-being, complex judicial systems for student conduct, and other valid concerns. As practitioners and faculty enter a new semester, they need to consider what will happen now.

The transition to remote learning was abrupt. It was a challenge to students and faculty alike, and presented a host of pedagogical growing pains. More than a year into the pandemic, some institutions will be returning to another term online. Others will return to the classroom, and when they do, we need to be prepared for cases to remain high. Prior to the transition to remote learning, the research told practitioners that students were no more likely to cheat in online courses than they were when provided with face-to-face instruction. If that still is the case, then the faculty that previously hadn’t used their institutions conduct processes may be more comfortable reporting than in the past. Additionally, the increase in cases may have come from faculty feeling like they had “more evidence” to pursue cases than they found during in-person learning. On the other hand, perhaps the lack of face-to-face contact with faculty assisted in eroding the relationship between them and their students, and assisted in students rationalizations to cheat. Practitioners were cautiously optimistic at the start of the pandemic, but returning to in-person learning does not guarantee a reduction in cases.

The bottom line is that high case rates are just as likely to continue as they are to decrease. Institutions should prepare to support their integrity offices and officers during this time. One way institutions can help is by continuing to adopt informal resolution policies. Theses policies can assist practitioners by resolving cases more quickly and providing flexibility in sanctioning that may not be provided by formal adjudication. This does not mean that students will lose their rights, rather that students and faculty can work together with their integrity officers to address the issue. If an informal process does not lead to a resolution, then institutions may rely on their honor courts.

Another way that institutions can support their academic integrity officers and professionals is to offer them the same flexibility that they have been pushing for students. An academic integrity case may need to be resolved through videoconference, even if the institution is returning to in-person learning. Faculty and practitioners may need to telework some days rather than returning to their offices. Flexibility is key in supporting the faculty and staff that promote a culture of academic integrity at their institutions.

How is your institution supporting academic integrity? Comment below or tell us @TweetCAI