How to promote academic integrity in remote learning
Academic integrity in regular classrooms is not always easy to achieve, now imagine in remote ones. With the COVID-19 pandemic, this topic has become much more important, I might even say alarming. Because of my work, teachers constantly ask me how can they ensure that their students work with academic integrity, some of them, are even more distrustful and think that with remote classes it will be more common for students to commit academic dishonesty.
I am also a teacher and I must admit that this mistrust has also crossed my mind. However, I remember the foundations of teaching, where what is important, in addition to the knowledge that is taught, is the trust that must be built between student and teacher. With this said, I consider that the behavior of a student in the classroom should not be very different from the one shown on the computer outside the teacher’s view, but I do believe it is important that teachers should put the same effort in preparing our online classes as those in the classroom, even a little bit more to continue that trust and the fostering of academic integrity.
So here are some methods that Tricia Bertram from UC San Diego recommends to maintain academic integrity in online classes:
1. Inform and educate. Remind your students of the importance of academic integrity. Put in a strategic place on the platform that you use a content area with the integrity policies, the Honor Code of the university and the styles of citation. Establish new rules together for the now remote class. Ask them to sign an honor pledge on their assignments and tests. Explain what you expect from them and what they should expect from you. Apply a brief quiz of academic integrity concepts and advise them on the subject.
2. Prevent and protect. Remind and clarify the students the learning objectives of the course. Involve them in the design and deployment of the learning activities. Use clear rubrics and apply formative assessments. Ask them to cite and reference their information sources. Use challenging and meaningful assessment instruments. Build large banks of random questions with a time limit. Allow them to use “open notes” clarifying that this does not mean that someone can answer for them. Set up exercises with text similarity tools. Update your exams every semester.
3. Practice and support. Check all the assignments; you could identify contract cheating by detecting strange words, topics not seen in class, different wording than previous works, etc. Apply oral exams. Use tools to check text similarity. Stay available for your students, establish consulting hours. Be a model of integrity; cite your sources and images, evaluate on time and properly and be punctual and prepared for your class. Don´t forget to report academic dishonesty to the appropriate authorities at the university.
I am not saying that by doing all this we will avoid completely that students commit academic integrity breaches, but we definitely could reduce the chances and strengthen our path for the education of honest students and future decent and respectable citizens.
Information based on webinar “Going remote with Integrity” by Tricia Bertram Gallant in conjunction with UC San Diego Academic Integrity Office and the International Center for Academic Integrity.