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Does Your Online Course Promote Academic Honesty?

Submitted by on November 26, 2012 – 9:09 pmNo Comment

Student sitting at a computer

Cheating in the classroom is not a new issue, but inside the virtual learning environment, instructors face a unique set of challenges when considering how to promote academic integrity. Faculty Focus’ “Special Report: Promoting Academic Integrity in Online Education” features proactive ways for meeting the challenges related to ensuring academic integrity in online education, including insight into a variety of intervention methods that leverage technologies, procedures, and policies to best fit the university philosophy. While we recommend you read the report in its entirety, here we highlight one approach that aims to prevent cheating. It can be adapted by any instructor designing an online course for the first time or revamping an existing course. Fostering a Community of Integrity The “three-pronged approach” for addressing academic dishonesty is a method suggested by Lori McNabb, the assistant director of student and faculty services for the University of Texas System TeleCampus in Austin, TX. The three prongs are “policing,” “prevention,” and “ethical.”While all three are important for any education environment, the “ethical” approach, “strives to encourage students to want to do their own work.” Cited to be the most challenging approach, it proves highly beneficial because it focuses on developing a community built on positive relationships between students and the instructor. Research has shown that these constructive relationships help to prevent students from engaging in academic dishonesty. Designing a Course to Promote Ethical Behavior To build this kind of community, consider incorporating the methods identified by McNabb, which can help develop ethical behavior among your students:

  • Include critical thinking discussions in online classes.
  • Incorporate assignments that anticipate and require collaboration.
  • Choose learning activities that are “distinctive, individual, and non-duplicative.”
  • Develop an honor code for the class.
  • Explain what will be considered unacceptable academic behavior in the class by the instructor and by the university.
  • Ask for student input on creating a community of integrity.

For more tips on how to prevent students from cheating in an online course, check out the article 20 Techniques to Combat Online Plagiarism in Virtual Classrooms. What are the specific methods you employ in your online course to promote academic honesty? Share with us in the discussion thread below. [social-bio]

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