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Desire2Learn 9.0

Tips to Ensure Academic Honesty

This document offers tips on deterring academic dishonesty for Desire2Learn courses. It includes general tips, such as providing a clear policy on cheating and plagiarism, and specific tips regarding testing and other types of assessments.

return to topGeneral Tips

Get to know your students.
Have students complete a profile and answer questions about themselves. Ask about their backgrounds and experiences that relate to the course. Use this or an additional writing activity (e.g., an introduction discussion) to obtain writing samples that exhibit your students' typical writing styles. You can refer to these materials later in the course if you suspect that a student is not submitting his or her own work.

Engage your students in community building activities.
Have students work in groups whenever appropriate so that they do not feel isolated. Communicate with your students and provide feedback as often as possible. Refer to Communication Tools: An Overview to learn about the many communication tools available in Desire2Learn.

Give the definitions of cheating and plagiarism.
Provide clear definitions of what you consider cheating and plagiarism. Create a short quiz for your students to take so you can identify any misconceptions about cheating and plagiarism.

Point your students to proper citation formats and resources.
McIntyre Library provides an online guide for Formatting Citations of Works Cited. Additionally, Word 2007 provides automatic formatting for citations and bibliographies.

Provide a clearly defined policy for cheating and plagiarism.
Provide a detailed plan of action, including steps that will be taken if a student is caught cheating or plagiarizing. It is a good idea to check with your department and college to see if an official policy exists at that level. If not, consult the University policy. Make your students aware of whatever policy you are using.

return to topTesting Tips

Ask questions that require students to apply concepts and material covered in the course rather than to memorize and reiterate lists, terminology, or theoretical concepts.
Technology makes it easier than ever to ask students objective exam questions, which can usually be graded automatically by course management systems. Unfortunately, by asking objective questions in an online exam, instructors make it easier for students to cheat. Students can often find answers to these questions by referencing their text book or searching the Internet during a test.

If you decide to give objective tests, make the tests shorter and more frequent.
Give five small tests instead of two large ones. Students are less likely to seek out someone to help with a 20-question quiz than a 100-question exam. They are also less likely to find a willing friend to help out on exams if the friend has to be available five times rather than twice.

When generating objective exam questions, check the textbook to make sure the answer cannot be pulled directly from the text.
You may also want to complete an Internet search using key words and text from your exam questions to see what the search elicits. If the correct answer can easily be found on the Internet, consider changing your question.

Modify test format and questions from semester to semester.
Students will not be able to pass along copies of former quizzes and exams to future students if the material changes each semester.

Ask short essay questions that require the students to apply concepts or material from the course.
Although these questions are more time consuming to grade than objective exam questions, they offer the best insurance against cheating.
HINT: Using a grading rubric can reduce time spent grading essay questions.

Use technology to make cheating more difficult for your students.
Desire2Learn offers several tools that can deter cheating in your online course. Also refer to Creating a Quiz to customize your assessments.

return to topTips for Using Other Types of Assessments

Vary the type of assessments used throughout the course.
Rather than relying entirely on tests, make discussions, group assignments, and individual assignments all part of the graded material.

Require checkpoints when assigning papers and other written projects.
There are a number of sites on the Internet that provide students with the opportunity to purchase papers to turn in as their own. Instructors can make it difficult for students to use such sites by asking students to provide an initial plan, a detailed outline, and/or an annotated bibliography before the final paper is due.

Relate assignments to students' experiences or original research.
This is easier to do at the graduate level than the undergraduate. Ask students to write about their own place of employment (current or past). Ask them to interview employees of a particular firm or a variety of firms to gather data. Ask them to gather information from a variety of websites (citing the sites) and incorporate it into a document where they draw their own conclusions from the information. In other words, make plagiarism difficult by requiring unique work.

Use term paper banks and the Internet to determine if a student’s work is original.
Just as the Internet can be an enemy in the war on cheating, it can also be a valuable ally in preventing plagiarism and academic dishonesty.

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