Apr 19, 2022 |

How to Ensure Academic Integrity in Online Education

By Gravitas

student holding books

On the surface, academic integrity may seem a difficult principle to uphold in an online learning environment. Recent studies do suggest that cheating in online classes is easier than in an in-person setting. But there are steps institutions can take to prevent it. Starting with a school’s mission and philosophy, all students and stakeholders can be positively influenced to believe that honesty is paramount in education and in life. And from a practical approach, teachers and administrators can put policies and technologies in place to keep every learner on track.

Identify the Causes of Online Cheating

Before you can prevent something from occurring, you need to understand its causes. Students who cheat often do so for many of the same reasons. Fear of failure, pressure from parents, a desire for better grades, cultural acceptance, the ability to get away with it, and the sense that there are minimal consequences if they cheat, are all reasons some students sidestep academic integrity. Students who are motivated by extrinsic rewards, such as grades, are more likely to cheat than those who find intrinsic value from learning. Students who lack confidence in their abilities may also be more likely to take unethical shortcuts.

Build Strong Online Student-Teacher Relationships

The more instructors know and understand their students, the less likely students will be to cheat. The best online teachers get to know each of their students as individuals. They communicate prior to the start of a course and send frequent announcements and reminders to their students throughout the term. They host virtual office hours and maintain a “door always open” policy that invites students to ask questions, express concerns about falling behind academically, or ask for personal guidance or referral to an advisor. Online teachers can build an environment that fosters positive relationships and the opportunity for mentorship.

Set Online Course Expectations

Teachers should provide clear expectations and course requirements. They should communicate the school’s honor code, define what constitutes cheating, and explain the consequences of a transgression. For students just learning the nuances of academic writing, teachers may need to introduce the concept of plagiarism and explain when and how citations are used. A robust academic integrity policy helps your student now, in college, in business, and in life.

Use Multiple Online Assessments

High-stakes assessments can increase the likelihood that students will cheat to pass an exam. Using a variety of online assessments mitigates this occurrence. Minimizing the importance of letter grades in classes, spreading out the weight of assignments’ importance throughout a term and giving students an adequate amount of time to learn, study, ask questions, and master their material, are all ways to encourage learning and discourage cheating. Especially in an online format, oral assessments can provide a more accurate evaluation of how a student is doing, while also forging relationships between teachers and students.

Use Online Technology to Improve Academic Integrity

Tech tools can and should be implemented to prevent cheating. From unique individual identifiers to the use of a tool like LockDown Browser, which prevents a student from viewing other pages while taking an online test, the use of technology helps ensure everyone plays by the rules. There are remote proctoring tools as well as software that checks for plagiarism. However, the most effective defense against academic dishonesty is honesty. When students live and breathe in a culture of academic integrity, they learn to abide by it.

Importance of Academic Integrity in Learning

Honesty, fairness, and responsibility are essential to maintaining the legitimacy of academic institutions. They help to nurture strong character formation and overall integrity. Studies also show that students with high academic integrity are more likely to experience a greater quality of learning. While students hold much of the responsibility to behave ethically, teachers, administrators, and parents also play pivotal roles in maintaining standards. This holistic approach to education keeps everyone accountable and helps to maintain integrity no matter where the learning and assessment take place.

Gravitas is the online global extension of the prestigious Stony Brook School on Long Island, NY. We instill the same rigorous and nurturing values from The Stony Brook School’s 100+ year existence into an online format that students can experience from anywhere. We believe in building character over career and we balance elite academics with helping students build integrity, honesty, empathy, and accountability. Our courses, evaluations, and programs are extensively planned to ensure students are given the tools to succeed. We help to prepare our students for success at the most prestigious universities in the world, and for lives dedicated to serving their communities. Want to learn more? Fill out the inquiry form and a representative from our school will be in touch.

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