Get to know your students
Forming student–instructor relationships is still the best deterrent for cheating. A great way to start is through an ice-breaker activity like an introduction discussion. Reply to each student to welcome them to the course. As part of the introduction discussion, have students complete their LMS profiles and answer questions about themselves. This builds community in the course and provides you with a writing sample that you can use for comparison if you're questioning whether a student turned in his or her own original work. Engage with students through the News tool by giving feedback and actively participating in the discussions. Let them see “the real you” by sharing some personal and professional interests.
Use an originality checker (e.g., Turnitin) as a learning tool
Originality checkers don't detect plagiarism; they detect matching text. A high percentage on an originality report doesn't necessarily indicate that plagiarism has occurred because these tools detect citations, quotes, and even assignment text (if you provided a template for students to use) as matching text on the originality report. In addition, originality checkers do not detect plagiarism of ideas or purchased papers. Consider using an originality checker as a learning tool rather than as a policing device. For example, students might submit an initial assignment draft to a Turnitin-enabled drop box, evaluate their own originality report (after some initial instruction from you), and make changes. Lang (2013) gives the example of displaying an unpublished draft of your own academic writing along with the corresponding Turnitin originality report to talk about how to balance your own interpretations with borrowed material.
Take advantage of the features in your LMS that deter cheating
Use the tools available within the LMS for drawing quiz questions randomly from a pool, randomizing answer choices, providing appropriate time limits, and using groups and release conditions to make available different versions of assessments. Your LMS might also have an algorithmic feature that you can use to generate unique numerical problems for each student. Periodically search online for your quiz or exam questions to see if the correct answers can be found easily.Use some checkpoints for identity verification If you're worried about verifying a student's identity, you might try using a synchronous meeting tool to give oral exams. You can also cross-reference a student's submissions against writing samples from earlier activities, such as the introduction assignment. In addition, if you have a student's electronic file, such as a Word document, you can check the document properties to see what name is associated with the file. What about proctoring? Many proctoring services are available, both live and virtual. Live proctoring may be a burden for online students who may not have a proctoring center available in their region and who might struggle with full-time work and childcare issues. Virtual proctoring comes with technology requirements and privacy issues. With both types of proctoring, a cost is passed on to the students. Proctoring may be the right solution in some situations, but given the information we have, it seems that the best way to address academic dishonesty is to first create the most effective learning environment possible. References: Lang, James. Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013. McGee, Patricia. Supporting Academic Honesty in the Classroom. San Antonio: The University of Texas at San Antonio, 2013. http://eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1004890.pdf.
WCET. “Best Practice Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity in Online Education.” WCET. June 2009. http://wcet.wiche.edu/sites/default/files/Best-Practices-Promote-Academic-Integrity-2009.pdf
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