Moving to Online Assessments with Academic Integrity: Advice for Staff

The move to online assessment since the Summer 2020 online assessment period change how we ensure academic integrity. Most students want to be assessed fairly on their learning and work. However, moving away from the exam conditions may create confusion about when and how to use sources and external assistance. Student stress can also increase misconduct.

This document suggests ways to support academic integrity by making misconduct more difficult, making student authorship of work more visible, and by informing students about good practice and encouraging them to follow it.

Many of the deterrence methods discussed below – assessing complex cognitive skills, clarifying tasks, communicating referencing conventions – also support student learning.

Information on using Turnitin, the text-matching tool, during the online assessment periods is also available on Guidance for Turnitin use during assessment periods.

The Eden Centre has produced when taking online assessments.

Contact your Eden Centre departmental advisers for further discussion on academic integrity in your assessments.

Designing assessment tasks

  1. Design questions and tasks that test for complex cognitive skills, such as evaluation, application and original argument are harder to find in pre-existing examples, or commission at a suitable level.

  2. Require students to work with specific sources, for example a particular academic article, news story, a new case study or an aspect of a specific lecture. This reduces the chance of there being pre-existing text suitable for copying. The source should be provided through Moodle to ensure students have access. Please be aware that audio-visual materials may not be fully accessible.

  3. Link tasks conceptually to a previously completed summative assessment, to help to prove authorship (but ask students not to re-use any sections of text they have previously submitted for summative assessment).

  4. Change assessment questions from the previous year to prevent previous cohorts of students from sharing their expertise.

  5. Change the order and/or selection of problem sets to make unauthorised collaboration more difficult.

Adding components which do not contribute to the grade

  1. A brief additional element that demonstrates the students' understanding of its content, perhaps through a justification of which sources have been used, to help show authorship.

  2. Plans or notes to help to show authorship.

  3. A declaration of academic integrity. This can help by encouraging self-monitoring and raising understanding of what constitutes misconduct. When completing online assessments students should read and sign/tick an academic integrity statement when they upload their answer paper. You can learn more about this, in the Academic Integrity section section of Assignment setup or Quiz set up guides.

  4. Selective and randomised interviews to help show authorship. Students should be made aware that interviews may be conducted and will be used to ensure integrity.

Clarifying understandings of good conduct in advance for students

  1. Tell students precisely what types of sources and/or collaboration are permitted or not for each assessment. Send this guidance to students ahead of the assessment and include it in the assessment area. Provide clarity by citing examples:

  • Students must take this assessment completely alone and not show or discuss it with anyone else.

  • Students are permitted to look at lecture slides and recordings, their own class notes and any academic literature.

  • Students are not permitted to: consult any other person about the content of the assessment; allow any other person to edit or proof read their work; submit any ideas or phrasing that are not their own (without appropriate citation).

  • Students should not include any writing of their own that has been submitted for a different summative assessment.

2. Clarify that editorial assistance and third-party help should not be used during any online assessment, even for coursework. Some editorial assistance is permitted for ordinary summative coursework, so additional publicity on this point may be required.

3. Clarify whether students can reuse formative work, both in terms of the topics/cases/argument and portions of the written work itself. (Allowing students to reuse formative work may increase the proportion of matched text in Turnitin, if the formative work was submitted through Turnitin and added to the Turnitin standard repository).

4. Provide a link to your department’s guidance on referencing and citing work appropriately.

Ensuring staff are prepared

Students are not permitted to consult staff members about assessments during online assessment periods. Inform all departmental staff, GTAs, and LSE LIFE of the timing of assessments, and ideally share the questions when released, so that staff do not unwittingly answer student queries relating to the assessment.