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Integrity of online assessments

As assessments move online in response to COVID-19, it is vital to maintain academic integrity without physical supervision. While academic misconduct can never be entirely eliminated in any form of assessment, there are a number of strategies you can employ to minimise the risk of academic misconduct occurring in online assessment tasks you set.

Promote student awareness of academic integrity

  • Ensure your students know what is expected of them. Begin each formal online assessment or quiz with a summary of the UOW Student Conduct Rules
  • Ensure that students are reminded that any type of academic misconduct will have consequences and that collusion may be more easily identified in online conditions.
  • Require students to sign/acknowledge an 'Academic Integrity Statement' confirming that the work submitted is their own, at the start of the assessment

Download an example of an Academic Integrity Statement.
  

Assessment design

The Rethinking online examinations module within the LTC – Preparing to teach online training program outlines strategies that represent a best-practice approach, based on current research to minimise academic misconduct in online assessments and set students up for success.

These strategies include:

  • Consider question design, and avoid questions that only require recall. Focus instead on questions that require the application of understanding and ask students to analyse, evaluate or reflect.
  • Reminding students of the consequences of academic misconduct & academic integrity guidelines
  • Provide clear instructions to the students about how the assessment will be conducted and what is expected.
  • Practice opportunities, so that students can familiarise themselves with the assessment format.
  • Require submission via Turnitin (this is for longer tasks. You cannot use Turnitin for Moodle Quizzes)
  • If using MCQ or short answers in a Moodle quiz, use questions banks and employ randomisation so that students have different tests.
  • Considering alternative modes of assessment.
       

Detecting academic misconduct

There are a number of warning signs that a student may have engaged in Academic Misconduct whilst completing an online assessment. Below are a few things to look out for when marking assessments.
  

Moodle quizzes

If you are using MCQ and short answer questions in a Moodle quiz, look for trends in student answers and timing logs. Are there students getting exactly the same questions wrong? Do the timing logs indicate that the same amount of time is being spent on each question? These could be signs that students may be colluding, and could require further investigation.
  

Turnitin

If you are requiring students to submit in long answer or essay format, get students to submit via Turnitin. Visit the staff Turnitin page (intranet) for videos on how to interpret Turnitin reports and identify signs of academic misconduct

The Quick guide – how to spot academic misconduct provides some tips on what to look out for in written assignments.
  

Identifying contract cheating

Research conducted by the Centre for Research and Assessment in Digital Learning (CRADLE) found that when teaching staff are asked to look for contract cheating when marking, they are much more likely to correctly identify it. So just being aware of contract cheating and being on the lookout puts markers in a better position to detect it. See the How to detect contract cheating resource developed by CRADLE for further advice.
  

The TEQSA Substantiating contract cheating: a guide for investigators is another useful resource to assist in detecting and managing cases of contract cheating. 
  

Reporting academic misconduct

Academic misconduct undermines the principles of academic integrity. It weakens the culture of learning for all students and risks diminishing the quality of UOW degrees. It is for this reason that teaching staff must not only notice but must also respond or report instances of alleged academic misconduct.

At UOW, it is the role of the Subject Coordinator to first investigate cases of alleged academic misconduct, by collecting evidence and interviewing the student. Once they have made a determination, the case gets passed onto the Academic Integrity Officer (AIO) to work out an appropriate penalty.

For further information on how to report Academic Misconduct and manage investigations, including conducting student interviews, visit the Reporting academic misconduct staff intranet page.

Quick guide: How to report academic misconduct

Quick guide: What outcomes can be imposed

All teaching staff are encouraged to complete the AWARE training Moodle module on managing Academic Misconduct.
  

External resources

TEQSA – Assessment Integrity: Online learning good practice

TEQSA - Academic integrity toolkit

Centre for Research and Assessment in Digital Learning (CRADLE) - Resources and publications

Contract Cheating and Assessment Design Project – Resources index

 

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