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Promoting Academic Integrity During Remote Learning

This document is for  instructors who have concerns about how best to ensure academic integrity on student work, including homework, quizzes, exams, essays, papers, etc.  It is a supplement to Lehigh's guidelines on Preparing to Teach in a Blended, Hybrid or Fully Online Course.

Academic Integrity: Our General Approach

Student behaviors related to academic integrity are highly context-dependent.  That is, students who cheat or plagiarize in one situation may not do so in a different situation. This means that their choices as students can be affected by choices we make as instructors. That said, no one has found a foolproof way to guarantee 100% compliance with academic integrity rules. With these facts in mind, our goal when working to ensure academic integrity should focus on taking reasonable actions that follow best practices research has shown significantly reduce the likelihood of cheating or plagiarizing.

Observation: Students are less likely to cheat on more-frequent lower-stakes exams than they are on infrequent high-stakes exams.

Recommended Approach: Wherever possible, substitute a series of week-by-week exams in place of common-hour exams and finals.

Observation: Students are less likely to cheat when they have been recently reminded of the university’s code of conduct regarding academic integrity and of the consequences of violations.  When students are online in their homes instead of in a classroom, they may tend to default to behaviors that are normal for them in the online, home environment: collaboration, sharing, and openness.  While the rules and expectations for an exam or paper assignment may be obvious to us instructors, students benefit from being told how to apply those rules and expectations in their new context.

Recommended Approaches: Remind students before each quiz, exam or assignment that the same rules apply in an online environment as apply on campus. Have students read and sign a statement that they have read--and will follow--the Lehigh University Code of Conduct regarding Academic Integrity.   If you are giving an online quiz, make a first question that asks them to respond to Lehigh's general, and your specific, rules regarding to academic integrity. 

Sample Language (feel free to use, with attribution to

Lehigh’s academic integrity standards remain the same whether you are learning online or in a face-to-face class. That means that you may not receive unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, or examinations, and that you may not submit the work of another as your own in any assignment.  Review the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Senate Statements on Academic Integrity and Article III of Lehigh’s Code of Conduct. If you have any questions about Academic Integrity as it applies to your online course, ask your instructor or TA. Any suspected violations of the code of conduct will be reported and handled through the University Student Conduct System.

ObservationSome academic norms carry across disciplines; others can be very discipline- or even course-specific. Students are more likely to act with integrity when they understand how the general rules apply to your specific course.

Recommended Approach:   Code of Conduct and Academic Integrity rules can seem like abstract, distant concepts to students; when they hear specifics from you these rules become real. Use concrete and highly specific language to explain what you expect.  Tell them which elements of coursework students may work on together and which require independent work. Be clear up front about what materials may be used for exam preparation (may they use old exams? material from prior semesters?) and which resources (books? notes?) and technologies (watches? phones? internet?) may and may not be used during exam time. Should they close all browser windows and tabs besides the one for Course Site? Do all this knowing that they are being given different rules by different instructors, so it matters that they hear it from you.

Observation: Students are less likely to cheat when they have been informed of the scope of an exam (i.e., the content it covers; the knowledge they are to demonstrate; the skills they are to apply; etc.). When they have been informed, they are less likely to experience the surprise, frustration, confusion, or sense of unfairness during an exam that can lead to poor choices.

Recommended Approach: Explain the range of content that an exam will cover and articulate for students the skills and knowledge they are expected to demonstrate on each exam. Always aim to make exams challenging but fair.

Recommendations When Creating and Administering an Exam Remotely

General recommendations:

  • Write new exams each semester so that students who have access to old exams do not have an unfair advantage.
  • Design questions that are representative of the range of content and type of work students have been asked to do on homework, in-class assignments, etc. 
  • Align exam questions with course learning objectives. That is, define the knowledge students should be able to demonstrate and the skills they should be able to apply by the end of the semester. Then, teach and assess with those objectives in mind. 
  • Consider giving open book exams; supplying students with a list of relevant facts, definitions or equations that they are not expected to memorize; or allowing them to create a single ‘sanctioned crib sheet.' These approaches allows students to engage in higher-order thinking in your discipline.
  • Consider a 'pre-exam learning quiz' that focuses on elements of the course that you might expect students to memorize-- let students take it as many times as they need to to get it right. This approach helps students learn this information--then, on the exam itself, you can ask questions that demand higher-order thinking (e.g., questions that ask students to apply those lower-order memorized elements).
  • Give students options within the exam (e.g., ‘answer four of the following six questions’; ‘define two items from each of the following four lists of terms’; etc.).


Specific Recommendations for take home exams, when given remotely

  • Create an exam in Course Site (as a page or as an uploaded document). Plan to make the exam ‘visible’ in Course Site only when the exam time begins. Tell students to review it and begin writing their answers.
  • You can do this digitally using a Google Assignment (only you can see their work) or if typing formulas or equations online is difficult and you don’t want to use a Course Site Quiz feature, you can ask students to physically write responses on a sheet of paper; then, when the exam is over, make the exam ‘not visible’ and have students submit (or scan and upload) within a short period of time. You can use the Course Site Assignments feature to collect the uploaded documents.
  • It is generally recommended that you not create requirements that you cannot reasonably enforce--so if you are giving a take-home exam, it is probably best to make it open book, open web, etc and make the questions unique enough to your course that, even with those resources, they have to apply course content to create something unique. That said, if you want to place constraints, make clear the rules they are expected to follow: Is it open-book or not? Open-notes or not? Can they consult internet resources or not? Should they close all browser windows and tabs besides the one with Course Site? May they collaborate on any aspect of the exam? Again, the answer may seem obvious, but different classes have different standards, so reminding them helps. 
  • Provide a reasonable amount of time so students aren’t rushed. To estimate how long it will take students to complete your exam, take your own exam--then multiply by four.


Specific Recommendations for Online Exams using Course Site Quizzes

  • Whenever possible, replace infrequent high-stakes exams with more frequent lower-stakes quizzes that build on one another.  Better to have a weekly quiz on that week's content than one big exam at the end of the unit or semester. 
  • Whenever possible, replace multiple choice questions with short answer or essay or project-based assessments.
  • For quizzes that are primarily intended to promote learning (i.e., formative assessment) rather than assess learning (i.e., summative assessment), allow students to take quizzes multiple times and do not set a time limit.
  • If you cannot replace high-stakes exams with more frequent lower-stakes quizzes, the following approaches make it far more difficult for students to collude while taking an exam:
    • set a time limit on the quiz. (In Course Site, you cannot set a time per question, so you might want to create multiple shorter Course Site quizzes (one for each 'section' of an exam), with a set time for each.)
    • use short answer or essay questions;
    • randomize questions; If you are concerned that randomizing might give students a ‘harder’ question before an ‘easier’ question that you’d like to have at the start of your exam, consider creating two or three shorter, separate exams: one with the kinds of questions you would use at the start of your exam and randomize these; another with the kinds of slightly harder questions you might use in the middle of your exam and randomize those; then a third section that tests higher-order skills, requires application of ideas to new situations, longer problem, or short essay questions.  
    • for quantitative questions, use use multichoice questions (each student will see a different value in the question).

More information and instructions for setting up a Course Site exam, see “Best Practices for Course Site Quizzes: Promoting Learning, Maintaining Academic Integrity

Recordings of past workshops, including a session on "Creating Online exams in computation-heavy STEM courses"


Recommendations for Managing the Remote Exam Situation

  • Give clear, direct instructions at the start of each exam.  For example: “Before we start, turn off and put away your phone. Close all browser windows except Course Site. Remove all books and bags from your work area. You are required to work alone on this exam. There is no way to pause the exam. You may use the restroom only during designated breaks.” (If the exam is long, you can create it as two distinct exams with a brief break in between.)
  • If you believe these measures are insufficient and want to virtually proctor have all students log into Zoom during the exam. Please note such an approach still does not guarantee student compliance.  All this said, if you elect to do this: (1) make sure they can see you but not each other; (2) have a plan for what you will do if you suspect a student is cheating during the exam and share this plan with the students (for example, the first time you see suspicious activity, you could give a general warning to the class. The second time you could private message the student. Etc.)


For Essays or Papers: Using Turnitin or Google Assignments


What to do if you suspect an Academic Integrity Violation  

R&P 3.7.1 states that incidents of suspected cheating are to be reported to the Disciplinary committee: “If any student, at any quiz or examination, is found using or attempting to use any book, paper or other article, or assistance from a fellow student, or any other unfair or unlawful means, such being intended to deceive the person in charge of the exercise with reference to his or her work, the student will be reported to the committee on discipline for action. Whoever willfully gives assistance will be considered as responsible as the person who receives it.” 

All incidents should be reported using the Academic Dishonesty Reporting Form   

Select Additional Resources  


Prepared by Lehigh's Center for Innovation on Teaching and Learning (Primary author: G. Reihman)