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Lucas Center Blog

Academic Integrity and the Rapid Transition to Remote Instruction

April 01, 2020  / Bill Reynolds, PhD  / Tags: higher ed, online, academic integrity, covid, cheating

We have received some recent inquiries from faculty who are concerned about academic dishonesty in the remote teaching and learning environment. Lucas Center staff will host a Zoom conversation on this topic on Thursday, April 2 at 3:00 pm. A link to join the meeting is here: https://zoom.us/j/423295227.

For those of you who aren’t available for that conversation or who would like some resources on this topic that will help you think it through before we meet, please see below. One point to consider when thinking about academic integrity under the current extreme conditions (i.e., rapid transition to remote instruction, major economic and emotional disruption for many students, poor connectivity and inadequate tech resources for some): Context matters. Some of the suggestions you’ll find in the guidance below assumes that you constructed your online course with academic integrity in mind. That is, you made use of best practices in course design to reduce the likelihood that students will cheat. For most of us, that is not the case, nor is it possible to redesign the course with these guidelines in mind in the last month of the semester. Therefore, just as our students employ an economic calculus based on risks and rewards when deciding whether or not to cheat, you, too, may have to use a similar decision making process in deciding how to respond to suspected cheating. In order to make this decision as efficient as possible, reducing uncertainty is helpful. One area in which you can do this is with respect to the FGCU student conduct policy as it relates to academic dishonesty. You can find that policy, along with the procedure you must follow if you suspect academic dishonesty, HERE.

The Lucas Center blog examined the issue of academic honesty by posting an email from Tom Tobin, an author and instructional designer who has thought deeply about this subject. You can find it HERE.

James Lang had a three-part series in the Chronicle of Higher Ed on this topic (based on his book Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty). Key takeaways:

  • Environmental conditions matter.
  • Having a final grade that is dependent on a small number of high-stakes assessments is an inducement to cheat. Implication: “Offer students frequent, low-stakes opportunities to demonstrate their learning to you.”
  • Increase opportunities for retrieval and rehearsal. When students use more effective learning strategies they feel more confident in their knowledge and understanding and have less incentive to cheat.

One response to concerns about cheating in the online environment is to improve and increase surveillance. We find this approach problematic on a number of levels and will explore the issue more thoroughly in a future blog post. If your response to concerns about academic integrity is to increase surveillance, please consider this comment from a recent post on the POD listserv: “If we cannot instill in our students a sense of right and wrong and create conditions where they can self-regulate and do the right thing for the right reasons without a camera over their head, eye tracking software, and facial recognition then I don't think we are really doing our jobs and I'm not sure what kind of society we are creating by filling it with graduates who can only be honest when they are being surveilled.”

If you have additional ideas, advice, suggestions, music, or funny bits that you would like to share with your colleagues, send it all to wreynolds@fgcu.edu or lucascenter@fgcu.edu and we will post it to the blog.