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Academic Integrity in Online Contexts

As WVU prepares to temporarily suspend in-person classes and move to alternative forms of instruction, many faculty will have questions about protecting and promoting academic integrity online. This page will address some of the more common questions that arise, and will be continually updated with new information.

For individual consultation, faculty are encouraged to reach out to the Office of Academic Integrity via email at AcademicIntegrity@mail.wvu.edu or telephone (304) 293-8111.

Be explicit about your expectations.

State clearly what you mean by academic integrity – on the course homepage, on individual assignments, and when communicating individually with students. Tell students that you will report suspected academic dishonesty, following the guidelines established in the WVU Policy on Student Academic Integrity – and follow through.

An integrity statement doesn't have to be complicated. It is simply meant to remind students of WVU's high expectations and to direct them to where they can learn more. For example, an integrity statement on an exam might read, "I affirm that my work is my own, and that it follows the expectations outlined in the WVU Policy on Student Academic Integrity."

Provide opportunities for students to better understand academic integrity.

Encourage - or eeven incentivize - your students to utilize online resources that can help them understand and apply WVU's expectations. Key resources to direct them to include:

Utilize plagiarism detection software for written assignments.

Plagiarism detection software like Turnitin – available through eCampus and SOLE (for HSC courses) – compares each student submission to journal articles, online resources, and other student work. The system also allows instructors to easily provide feedback across a number of dimensions. Plagiarism detection software does not replace human judgment – but does give you a starting point to identify and address possible plagiarism.

Check the metadata.

Every student submission online, from papers to exams to discussion posts, contains metadata – clues about who actually did the work. If you suspect that a student didn’t do their own work, you can check the metadata yourself – or ask the Office of Academic Integrity to initiate an investigation.

Design assessments that make it harder to cheat.

When building exams in eCampus or SOLE, use a larger bank of questions and randomize both questions and answers. When assigning homework projects, build them so that no two answers can be the same - and encourage students to work together to solve their projects. For written assignments, use creative prompts that don’t lend themselves to copy-and-paste plagiarism. Actions like these won’t completely eliminate dishonesty – but can discourage it.

Consider the time allotted for online assessments.

Limit the time allotted for assessments to a reasonable amount of time for completing the assessment, but short enough to limit the ability to look up answers.

Strategically monitor attendance in synchronous sessions.

If you have an attendance policy, monitoring this can be a bit trickier in synchronous, online sessions – since you can’t just glance around the room and have a sense of how many students are absent. It’s also not enough to simply use polling software to take attendance at the beginning of class, since it is even easier for students to “slip out” of a virtual classroom.

A more effective approach requires students to answer questions or prompts throughout each synchronous session, like you might do in a large face-to-face environment – and to do so using a system that collects metadata around student participation.