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Academic Integrity

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Academic Integrity Online

According to OU’s Academic Integrity Code, “Academic integrity means honesty and responsibility in scholarship. Academic assignments exist to help students learn; grades exist to show how fully this goal is attained. … all work and all grades should result from the student's own understanding and effort.”

According to the International Center for Academic Integrity, academic integrity requires “a commitment to five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility.” Studies suggest that variables present in any instructional setting can diminish these values:

  • The perception that other students are cheating easily
  • Ignorance about academic integrity policies
  • Unintentional plagiarism
  • Unclear assignment/project guidelines
  • Low faculty-student interaction
  • Generic assessments (quizzes, projects, and exams)
  • Reusing assessments (from previous years, or across sections)
  • Unmonitored exams
  • Unstructured collaborative assignments

Although studies differ over the prevalence of cheating in online classrooms, it is certain that the digital environment poses unique challenges to maintaining academic integrity. As instructors, we can promote integrity by structuring the learning environment appropriately and helping students to be mindful about academic integrity. The following strategies for maintaining academic integrity online have been adapted from the articles cited below.

Show that you care about integrity

  • If you do not already do so, include your own statement in your syllabus or elsewhere about your expectations for academic integrity. A sample statement is available on the Integrity Council website.
  • Require completion of an integrity pledge (for example, “I promise that I will neither give nor accept unauthorized assistance on this assignment”) for each major assignment. Pledges are generally more effective when given before an assignment, not after.
  • Browse resources available on the Integrity Council website: “Student’s Guide” explaining all major types of misconduct; a faculty guide for those new to the system; short, student-produced integrity videos; and more.

Tailor assignments to the online environment

  • Vary assignment materials for each cohort. As in traditional classrooms, it is possible for students to circulate past exams and assignments.
  • Require students to synthesize personal experiences with course materials.
  • Create open book assignments that require analysis, not just a final answer.
  • Avoid closed-book tests and quizzes in favor of other assignment types.
  • Have back-up assignments in case of technical issues.
  • Require students to submit progress reports and outlines; do not accept last-minute substitutions that diverge inexplicably from preliminary work.
  • Incorporate Peer Review for collaborative assignments.

Give clear instructions on completing assignments appropriately

  • Be clear about what kind or collaboration and resources students are allowed to use on each assignments. (e.g., is the assignment open book? can they discuss it with their peers?) When students are not explicitly instructed to complete work individually, they may well assume that collaboration is acceptable.
  • Be clear about what constitutes academic misconduct and plagiarism (give examples for your class).
  • List appropriate ways to get help (e.g. email instructor, talk to a librarian, consult the Writing Center).

Strategies for Increasing Security of Online Exams

Below is a list of tools and settings available in Canvas that can help increase the security of your online exams.

Note: There is no way to absolutely guarantee that students are not going to cheat (online or in class), but there are some things you can to do maximize your online quiz security. 

Also keep in mind that alternative assessments to exams and quizzes may be more appropriate in the online setting. Consider exploring other ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge and mastery of a subject such as case studies, online projects, exploratory worksheets, reflective essays, etc.

Classic vs New Quizzes: At this time we recommend the use of Classic Quizzes in Canvas due to certain constraints of New Quizzes. Unless you have a specific reason to use New Quizzes, we do not recommend a switch from Classic Quizzes to New Quizzes. 

  • Randomize Questions with Question Banks
  • Shuffle (Randomize) Answers
  • Set a Time Limit
  • Show One Question at a Time
  • Set Quiz Availability
  • Don't Allow Students to View Quiz Results

For more information, visit the CAS OATS Guide to Online Course Design

Leverage technical tools that are available to you

  • Turnitin can automatically check the originality of a student’s writing.
  • Use back-end data from Canvas, such as the Moderate Quiz feature, to monitor student activity. For example, was an assignment completed in an impossibly short time? Were similar-looking assignments submitted almost simultaneously?

Proctored Exams

If proctored examinations cannot be avoided, The University of Oklahoma does provide two methods to help conduct secure proctored exams: Respondus LockDown Browser and Zoom.

Respondus LockDown Browser

Respondus LockDown Browser is a proctoring tool available to instructors. LockDown Browser prevents students from copying and pasting exam content, taking screen captures, printing the exam, and from accessing other applications or websites.

Respondus LockDown Browser can be enabled on quizzes in Canvas but should only be used after instructors have thoughtfully considered and fully exhausted all other options for deterring cheating. Because these tools 1.) are limited in nature with respect to accessibility and 2.) lack of compatibility across devices, this tool is considered highly inequitable and strongly discouraged during periods of remote instruction where students may not have access to approved devices.

Respondus LockDown Browser limitations:

  • Requires that students have access to a laptop or desktop running a Windows or Mac operating system
  • Does not function on mobile devices or Google Chromebooks
  • Does not function with screen readers and cannot be used for students that need a visual impairment accommodation

Faculty cannot require students who don't have access to a device that meets the technical requirements to purchase additional devices. Federal law requires that all costs associated with a course must be posted when students are enrolling. In all of these cases, it is most appropriate that faculty provide an alternative version or method of the assessment.

Ask IT Articles

Additional Instructor Resources:


Zoom should only be used to proctor exams in the event that Respondus LockDown Browser is deemed to be a non-viable option by the instructor. Zoom is not explicitly designed as a proctoring solution but is a tool with which students have great familiarity and can be accessed from virtually all internet-enabled devices. Zoom should only be used as a last resort or to help facilitate exams with very specific and limited circumstances. Instructors should note that in order to successfully setup proctoring with Zoom, it is more than likely that they will need multiple proctors who are comfortable working with Zoom and its features. The number of proctors available will determine the scalability of this system. 

It is recommended that proctors watch no more than three (3) exams at a time.

Zoom limitations:

  • Hard to scale for more than 3 students a time
  • No integration with Canvas
  • No recording functionality in individual Breakout Rooms

Please review Proctoring with Zoom for detailed set up instructions.

When a problem arises…

  • Report violations to the Office of Academic Integrity Programs,
  • Use OU’s policy on warnings (“admonitions”) for smaller violations.
  • Requests for assistance with security concerns can be addressed to OAIP Associate Director Will Spain,
  • If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to OAIP!


Baron, J., & Crooks, S. (2005). Academic integrity in web based distance education. Tech Trends, 49(2), 40-45. doi:10.1007/BF02773970

International Center for Academic Integrity (2014). The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity (2nd ed.): ICAI.

Kleinman, K. (2006). Strategies for Encouraging Active Learning, Interaction, and Academic Integrity in Online Courses. Communication Teacher, 19(1), 13-18. doi:

Krsak, A. (2007). Curbing Academic Dishonesty in Online Courses. Paper presented at the TCC Worldwide Online Conference, Online.

McCabe, D. L., Butterfield, K. D., & Trevino, L. K. (2006). Academic Dishonesty in Graduate Business Programs: Prevalence, Causes, and Proposed Action. 5(3), 294-305. doi:doi=

McCabe, D. L., & Pavela, G. (2010). Ten (Updated) Principles of Academic Integrity: How Faculty Can Foster Student Honesty. doi:Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, Vol. 36, No. 3, May-June 2004: pp. 10–15