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Building Academic Integrity in the Online Classroom

20 August 2021

It’s not only students and parents preparing for the resumption of classes. Back-to-school also means back to facing the students for teachers. 

Over the summer, they prepared their curriculum, activities, and tests for the quarter or the semester. Pre-pandemic days, the teacher would open the door on the first day of class, greet the students for the first time, and have props ready, if not chalk to write on the board. He or she will walk around the classroom or sit down by the desk, all while discussing the learning period to come and sometimes even calling people to introduce themselves. 

But ever since COVID-19 hit, schools have been closed, and the online distance scheme has been adapted. Teachers had to quickly learn how to operate Zoom, prepare Powerpoint slides, think of ways to engage their students, and, yes, put in place preventive methods to stop cheating in online exams. 

Without the safety net of a proctor and with the accessibility of multiple devices at home to the Internet, it almost seems impossible that online exam taking can entirely avoid cheating among takers. We’ve rounded up some ways to lessen the chances of your students cheating and making them use what they learned from the semester to ace that exam. 

Online remote learning. School kids with computer having video conference chat with teacher and class group. Child studying from home. Homeschooling during quarantine and coronavirus outbreak.

1. Identify why students cheat in the first place

Most often than not, cheating is caused by a person’s lack of confidence, high pressure to deliver, and/or studying in an environment that practices academic dishonesty. 

Build confidence by simply teaching the course well. Engage your students during the class. Require the camera to be on the whole class. Zoom now has a feature that allows a chat member’s camera only to be visible to the host. Provide activities that will captivate the class’ interest and stimulate their brain cells. If your students see that you are trying your best to teach them in the online set-up, this will minimize the chances that they will even think of cheating. 

Create a classroom that rewards students for learning and not for getting high grades. On the very first day, remind them that what they will learn in class will help them in the future, so cheating their way through passing means losing invaluable lessons they would have picked up if they studied in the right and honest manner. 

2. Make use of online proctoring tools

Contact your school’s administration to have a proctoring system in place. There are many available tools online that confirm test taker's identity, alarm when no one or multiple people are detected, notify when numerous tabs are open, record the screen, give time limits to question-answering, prevent mobile phones, and a lot more. Some recommended proctoring software providers are ExamOnline, SpeedExam, Mercer, Examus, and ProctorExam. 

Write an honesty pledge for students at the start of the semester

3. Write an honesty pledge for students at the start of the semester and make them sign an academic honesty contract in line with university policies

First off, acquaint yourself with your school policies regarding cheating. Make sure your students have a copy and know them by heart. Get creative by writing a pledge, composing a song, or making a video that will remind students of the consequences of getting caught. Before starting an exam, play the video, make them sing the song, or recite the pledge to instill in their heads why cheating is wrong. 

4. Prepare questions that require critical thinking and mix them up

Refrain from using true or false statements or multiple-choice types of questions. Make sure your students will have to think and force them to craft their answers differently from their classmates. Divide students and give different test sets to each group. If you’re teaching an international class, make the students take the test at different zones. 

5. Set up tools that won’t give the student a chance to look up answers while taking the exam

Aside from the proctoring tools, Google also has features that detect if multiple tabs are open. It also has quiz formats that only show one question at a time, have a time limit to answer, and do not allow backtracking of questions. 

Happy kid passed exam online, remote learning success concept

6. Don’t show scores right away and never give students a copy of the whole exam after the test date

To prevent a codigo leak from a class who took the exam first, refuse to give students a copy of the whole exam after test-taking; only show the questions that they got wrong, and give out scores when all your classes are under the same course or subject have taken the exam. This is to prevent adding pressure to classes that will take the exam at a later date. 

7. Never allow retaking of the whole exam

If a student missed the test date, ask for legitimate proof of why they couldn't take the exam. Make sure you’re giving a different version of the test to the student.

We never condone cheating, but it’s also good to remind ourselves that this is a hard time for everyone in the education sector. Don’t be too hard on yourself or your students. We’re still adjusting and we’ll keep on moving different gears until the online set-up can encourage and keep enthusiasm in learning as well as building integrity in the classroom. 

The Perfect Online School Set-up for Teachers 

And since we love teachers, you deserve only the best work set-up at home to make you efficient in planning and conducting your classes. 

Flexispot’s catalog boasts standing desks, standing desk converters, ergonomic chairs, table lamps, cork bulletin boards, power strips, and storage units. 

When planning for your online class, you may opt to use a standing desk and a desk converter for a space-saving workstation that is guaranteed to make you efficient at work. Standing will make your senses alert and using a converter won’t take up additional desk space. 

On a day of back-to-back classes, having an ergonomic chair will prevent you from suffering a neck or backache and ensure comfort that will help show your students that you’re enjoying your job. Table lamps are for ample lighting, a bulletin board for you not to forget anything, power strips for multiple devices you might use during the class, and storage units to keep your desk clutter-free.