Teaching and upholding academic integrity in any context - in-person, remote or hybrid - during a pandemic is not easy. There are many more stressors and forces shaping student behaviors and influencing their choices than in an otherwise "normal" term.

These stressors and forces can naturally increase temptations to cheat, especially when there are increased opportunities (e.g., online exams) and especially when students think that "everyone else is doing it."

This means that even good students might be tempted to cheat during this particular and unique situation in which we all find ourselves. Just ask the 1888 students who were reported for cheating in 2019-2020 and the 1700 who were reported in 2020-2021. 

Faculty and IAs, working alongside with students, can enhance academic integrity in our remote, hybrid and in-person classes.

The AI Office has developed and compiled some resources to help you teach with and for integrity.

Tip 1. Connect with your Students Immediately

It is true that your students may see you in-person this year, but we'll all still be "hiding" behind masks. And, people are still stressed with the pandemic. So, making an effort to connect with your students can go a long way for creating community and a sense of connection, which is effective for combating cheating behaviors. Help your students see you as a human being who cares, is approachable, honest, and trustworthy. The good news is this - according to research, the sense of belonging you can create by connecting with students will not just help to create a class culture of integrity, but one of inclusivity as well. 
One option for creating connection and a sense of belonging is doing an introductory video of yourself - make it more personal and not just about class. Below is just one example of a possible video intro - notice no mask!! Add in your pronouns and talk about how you hope the class will connect with each other. Encourage your students to post introductory videos/statements on a discussion board of themselves too if they're comfortable doing that.

Tip 2. Create a Class Statement of Values or Code of Ethics

Creating a Class Statement of Values and/or a class Code of Ethics with your students is key.
It is absolutely critical that the students and instructional team get on the same page about what integrity looks like now, in a pandemic situation. Sure, you could just tell them what the rules are, but it will help you build community and garner student buy-in if you do it with your students. For the most part, they'll think the same way as you do about integrity and when they have differing ideas, you might surprise yourself and choose to adopt their ideas.
Creatin a class statement of values and/or codes of ethics also helps to create an inclusive environment because you'll be creating a sense that that the class is just. And, if the language of the values/code is positive, rather than negative, students will be motivated to be inclusive and integrous.
It is critical when you do this that you first set the groundwork:
  1. the class statement of values/code of ethics must be aligned (and certainly not contradict) the University's Policy on Integrity of Scholarship
  2. be clear on what is non-negotiable for you in terms of your required role to honestly and fairly evaluate student learning. For example, if you will not allow "open-notes" exams no matter what, state that up front and why - make sure to connect it to learning and/or evaluation!
  3. make sure they understand that once the code or statement is created, everyone is accountable for reporting violations of the code or values - there's no point having values or codes if they are ignored
  4. tell the class "we do this not because we think that the class is full of "cheaters" but because we understand that we have diverse views on integrity, especially in this new environment, and so everyone needs clearer guidance"

Tip 3. Design a Mastery-Oriented Class

Students are more likely to cheat in performance-oriented classrooms - ones in which the students and the instructional team are more focused on grades than on learning or mastery of the material.
3 quick ideas for reinforcing mastery over performance:
  1. ensure that the learning objectives for the course are clearly stated, and each activity, assignment and exam are connected back to those learning objectives.
  2. provide students some choice and control over the assessments. For example, can the students choose their paper topic or even determine how much of their grade will come from assignments versus exams?
  3. provide multiple attempts at several low/no-stakes assessments (formative) before the summative assessments

Tip 4. Make Standards & Expectations Absolutely Clear

You don't have to list every behavior, but certainly the ones that are commonly misunderstood by students in your class like collaboration, use of aids, and plagiarism.

During this particularly confusing and anxiety-ridden time, be exceptionally clear! Particularly if you are using assessment techniques that are new for our students. For example, what does "open books/notes" for exams mean? For students, it likely means "open internet" and on the internet are sites and people who will do the work for the students. So, consider adding this phrase:

"open books/notes" does not mean that you can get other people to answer the exam questions for you - whether those people are friends, family or some "tutor" or "freelancer" on a website. Stay away from sites that will do your work for you - such actions will undermine honesty and fairness, violate the trust of me and your peers, and result in an academic integrity violation and a report to the Academic Integrity Office"

Tip 5. Choose the Right Assessments for Your Class

The assessments you used before the pandemic may no longer be the right assessments. Learning has changed. Our students have changed.

Consider alternative assessment methods to the traditional exam delivered in-person. There are multiple possibilities, not all of which will work for each class. Visit this site from The Commons for ideas for alternative assessments.

if you choose to deploy a traditional exam (e.g., multiple-choice, short-answer timed exam) in an online setting, consider implementing the following integrity protecting measures:

Tip 6: Give Timely Integrity Reminders

Research has shown that when people are reminded of their integrity, or just integrity standards, right before being presented with an opportunity to cheat, cheating rates are reduced.

So, don't just talk about integrity at the beginning of the quarter when you create the Statement of Values or Code of Ethics. Use those mechanisms to provide timely reminders to students at each assessment juncture and have students reaffirm their commitment to that statement or code on each assessment.

If you don't create a Statement or Code with your class, then at least have them affirm their integrity on each exam using these instructions.

Also, tell students about the AI Office's Excel with Integrity Contest and encourage them to enter. And advise them to sign up for our Timely Reminders service.

Tip 7: Monitor Student Progress & Conduct Welfare/Learning Checks

Staying in touch with your students throughout the quarter can help mitigate any temptations for your students to use outside services or unpermitted aids to "help" them pass the course.

After each assessment touchpoint, check in on your students' activities (CANVAS is helpful for this). Are they logging in? Are they engaged? Does their engagement translate into mastery of the content? If not, why not?

Use this data to reach out to students individually and/or survey the class as a whole:

  1. What's going well and what isn't?
  2. With what are you struggling?
  3. What services/support do you need?
  4. How can I help?

Conducting Zoom conference calls with students who appear to be struggling (IAs can do this) and conducting at least one mid-quarter check with the entire class, not only shows that you care (which can reduce cheating) but it also may actually stop a student who would have been otherwise tempted to cheat.

Tip 8. Evaluate the Integrity of Assessments Before Grading

Use your traditional and maybe some new practices to evaluate if an assessment was completed with integrity before you start grading:
  1. Follow-up with each student via Zoom to talk through at least one of their answers. If the student can talk about it, and how they know what they know, this can indicate that they completed the exam with integrity.
    1. You can do this even in large classes - Engineering did it in AY20-21! Reach out to aio@ucsd.edu if you'd like to learn more about the oral assessment project in Engineering.
  2. Use Turnitin (in CANVAS) for any narrative exams and check all assignments (not just those with a certain percentage similarity).
  3. Use "horizontal grading" (credit: Todd Kemp) - each IA grades the same questions on all exams so that unauthorized collaboration or copying on exams can be detected (consider using GradeScope for STEM/math-based exams).
  4. If using a CANVAS quiz for your exam, use their metrics and logs to check for signs of integrity violations
  5. Check for contract cheating using these tips

Tip 9. Report All Suspected Integrity Violations

Our superb quality and reputation can only be sustained if faculty and students commit to academic integrity. Although we can expect more integrity violations during periods of stress, we must continue to value integrity by responding to violations in order to leverage the techable moment for students. Otherwise, we have limited the educational benefit our students receive from their experiences with us and cheating will become more commonplace. (NOTE: Any extenuating circumstances that led to the integrity violations will be considered during the sanctioning phase of the process.)

The Academic Senate Policy on Integrity of Scholarship requires all Instructors to report all suspected integrity violations. Suspected violations can be reported here.

If you reported cheating last year, share that information with your class this year. One way to discourage students being tempted with the new opportunities to cheat is to let them know that you care about integrity and you do report integrity violations. This can help reduce this sense that they may have that "cheating is rampant" or that there are no consequences for cheating.

Tip 10: Reach Out to AIO for Assistance

Pedagogical/Assessment/Culture Consultations: contact tbg@ucsd.edu to reach Dr. Bertram Gallant, Director

Presentations in your Virtual Class: use this form to request presentations in your class by AIO students or staff

Presentations to your Department: contact tbg@ucsd.edu to reach Dr. Bertram Gallant, Director