5 tips to avoid academic misconduct in online assessments

It is important, given the educational paradigm shift generated by the pandemic, to establish the rules of the assessments and convey the importance of original thinking.

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3, 2021

6 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

The virtual environment can be confusing for students. Lack of face-to-face supervision can give them a misleading signal that they can safely cheat. Therefore, the challenge of the assessment process for teachers in an online context is primarily in creating a culture of integrity that transcends the classroom setting.

“In any setting, but especially in online learning, academic integrity is key to an accurate assessment of student knowledge. It is important, given the educational paradigm shift generated by the pandemic, to establish the rules of the assessments and convey the importance of original thinking. Currently, students can access too much information with a single click, therefore, it is essential to teach them how to use it properly, ”says Catalina Londoño, Manager of Professional and Educational Services at Turnitin.

So what are the five tips that can help educators to conduct remote assessments with integrity?

  1. Feedback: Feedback is more important than ever. Face-to-face scenarios give teachers the ability to observe student confusion or understanding; online learning environments reduce this, so technological tools with AI can be a great ally when generating observation. In addition, it is necessary to reinforce the feedback using different channels of conversation.

  2. Design Assessments that Maintain Academic Integrity : Provide multiple versions of the same test and set time limits to decrease the possibility of student collusion and other forms of misconduct, which can take place outside the visual field of the camera and screen.

  3. Uses comprehensive and varied assessment types: By varying assessment formats, educators can gain insight into higher-order thinking, as well as include different learning styles. On the other hand, different evaluation formats can assess the breadth (multiple choice) as well as the depth (long answer) of knowledge.

  4. Take advantage of tools that maintain academic integrity. Tools such as similarity checking, monitoring, and browser blocking tools can support academic integrity. In addition, technology platforms can streamline evaluation time for the educator and promote constructive feedback for the student.

  5. Finding out about new trends in misconduct: Be aware of emerging forms of misconduct in distance learning. The nature of online learning environments makes certain forms of misconduct easily accessible. Coupled with copy-paste plagiarism, AI text generators, smart devices, and essay factories are a click away in online learning.

“Although the internet has an unquestionable educational use, there is also a misuse of this tool. Therefore, to maintain academic integrity in online assessments, it is important that teachers are aware of new trends that are emerging to prevent the spread of academic misconduct, “adds the executive of Turnitin.


What are the emerging trends to watch out for?

  • Contract Trap: Hiring a third party (free, for pay) to complete an essay and present that work as your own. Rehearsal factories have increased in number and are often targeting vulnerable students through social media.

  • AI-based writing: Use an Artificial Intelligence-based tool to finish writing an essay.

  • Twisting or manipulating text: Taking content written by another author and running it through a software tool or manipulating it with the intention of deceiving plagiarism detection software.

  • Source code plagiarism: copying or adapting a source code without the attribution corresponding to the original creator.

  • Spyware: Use technology, such as hidden hearing aids, smart phones, screen capture software for tests, and online test benches to get answers to exams.

  • Use of third parties to get answers: Use external tutors to obtain answers or bluetooth devices to communicate solutions in the exams.

  • Impersonation: Hiring someone to take a test or to attend the entire course instead of the student

  • And although it is not new, collusion: When students work in groups a work destined for an individual grade. In unsupervised virtual environments, there may be an increase in this form of misconduct.

“To avoid this type of action and to promote a culture of academic integrity that will avoid bad behavior, it is key to maintain good communication with students. Constant dialogue and a trusting relationship can become the best prevention tool in cases of misconduct. In remote environments, it is necessary for the teacher to enable a direct communication channel to identify if students are learning or if they are having problems with the content. This simple action can prevent future disasters ”, concludes Catalina Londoño.

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