Set up the space from the beginning to encourage academic integrity

Cheating happens for a lot of different reasons, which means that it needs to be addressed in multiple ways. Here are steps you can take from the get-go to foster a climate of integrity:

  1. Make sure students understand University academic integrity policies and your course-specific expectations:
  2. In your syllabus and during class, communicate with your students about your and the University’s expectations of academic integrity and what constitutes a violation of it. For example, to what extent are students allowed to collaborate on assignments? Are exams going to be open-book or closed-book? Are they going to be timed and/or time-bound? What kinds of resources can they use?
  3. Informally quiz students on your policies. This will give them a chance to make mistakes when the stakes are low, and will help them generate questions about your expectations before it’s time to hand in an assignment or take a test. Having a conversation to field those questions can also help things go more smoothly by simultaneously addressing student questions regarding assignment due dates and other information in the course.
  4. Require students’ explicit commitment to academic integrity: Include waivers at the top of tests/online assessments that require a click before the assessment can be submitted; i.e. “I certify that all work on this assessment is entirely my own and does not violate Georgetown’s Academic Integrity policies.”we need to get beyond simple ideas about surveillance and punishment. For starters, proctoring solutions become less necessary when your students understand the rules of academic integrity in your course and when you make it clear that you value (and reward) that integrity more than their scores on any particular exam or assignment. It can therefore be helpful to implement course policies that encourage risk-taking (e.g., many low-stakes assessments rather than one or two high-stakes assessments; dropping the lowest score(s); allowing retakes or revisions). It’s also crucial to explain your expectations and your rules for what’s acceptable and what’s not, and why. That means explaining what students are and aren’t allowed to consult during exams (if anything), how much collaboration with classmates is allowed (if any), and the basis for these and any other rules. For more on all of this, see this resource from our colleagues at the University of Virginia.

Alternatives to standard exams

  • Consider assessment mechanisms alternative to online testing. Could an online quiz or exam be replaced with a project, paper, or discussion-based assessment?
  • Continue to employ usual best practices for written assessments such as student papers or projects, including using Turnitin to check for plagiarism also available within Canvas—and let students know that you’re going to be doing that. For information about Student Data Privacy, please visit here.

Make tests more secure without proctoring

Proctoring software like Proctorio, Examity, etc., has gotten a lot of attention as we’ve adapted to virtual teaching and assessment. Some of this attention has raised serious questions and concerns about student privacy and the bandwidth-demanding nature of such software. And yet faculty are naturally interested in taking steps to ensure academic integrity in their courses. If you do go forward with timed, closed-book tests, there are ways to promote academic honesty without resorting to proctoring. As our colleagues at the University of California-Berkeley suggest, options include avoiding curves on exams, relying on more numerous low-stakes exams rather than fewer high-stakes ones, and using Canvas quizzes to randomize the order of questions and/or (in the case of multiple-choice) answers. You can find out more about Canvas quizzes here.

Try alternative proctoring options

Canvas, Zoom, and Turnitin have become standard at Georgetown, and students’ familiarity with those platforms may make them more comfortable than they would be with proctoring solutions like Proctorio.

Use built-in quiz tools within Canvas to secure your exams:

  1. Randomize questions to make it harder for students to compare notes on an exam.
  2. Find out about randomizing questions in Canvas.
  3. Set up an access code for a test in Canvas and only share that password when you are ready to have students begin the test. Limit the time during which a student can complete an online assessment to something that is reasonable, yet prevents them from looking up answers.

Use Turnitin in Canvas during both drafting and final review processes:

  1. Create a new Turnitin assignment in Canvas and title it “Draft of Paper 1,” for example. As long as the “Draft” and the “Final” Turnitin assignments are within the same course, and submitted by the same student, Turnitin will not return a match based on a previous submission of the same paper. If a student submits the same paper to multiple assignments (including revision assignments) in the same class they will not match each other. This is to allow students and instructors to use the Turnitin Similarity Reports as part of a review/resubmit process without generating a “false positive”. Note: Similar papers submitted to a different class or via different accounts will match each other, even if they are submitted to the same instructor. Also, if the instructor submits the same paper as a “non-enrolled student” to the assignment, then it will match the student’s paper.
  2. Create a new Turnitin assignment and title it “Draft of Paper 1” for example. In the Turnitin assignment settings select the “Do not store the submitted papers” option (located under “Submissions to this assignment will be stored in…”). Not saving the submitted assignment drafts in the Turnitin database will ensure that the final submissions will not return a match.

Proctor in Zoom: 

The Zoom chat can be used as a line of communication with the proctor throughout the exam. Of course, in case that channel fails, it’s helpful to share another way to reach you live, whether through email, a phone call, or social media channels like Slack. Options include:

  • Showing students’ work area and/or sharing their screen
  • Setting (restricting) chat options
  • Using breakout rooms to answer student questions or to check in on students 

Combining Tools

Some faculty have found that using Google docs in conjunction with Zoom gives flexible control over when files become available to students. Additionally, you may consider changing the file setting in Canvas to “available to students with link only” and then paste the link into a Canvas Quiz, set to be released at a given time for a group of students. You may combine this strategy with a synchronous Zoom session during the exam. 

For more resources, please visit The Georgetown Honor Council guidance on using Turnitin, and UIS's guide. We hope these ideas are helpful. If you have more questions, or ideas of your own to share, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at!