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As schools and universities around the world prepare to pivot towards remote learning, it’s important to take note of the new challenges and opportunities to uphold integrity in student work.

While online learning environments have always been vulnerable to academic misconduct, as more schools participate in online learning activities, instances of academic misconduct may rise commensurately. An April 2020 Boston Globe article states, “Cheating has always been a problem for colleges, whether students bought term papers or illicitly shared the answers before a test. But COVID-19...has meant that the tests that professors would have administered in their classrooms and lecture halls are suddenly being taken remotely and with potentially greater access to banned outside help. The new environment may provide students with more opportunities to cheat.”

So what are some new opportunities for plagiarism and academic misconduct in online learning environments?

What can you do about these new short-cut forms of misconduct?

  1. Create a sense of belonging for your students to help them feel seen and included. Bridge inequities, too, by building learning communities, amplifying encouragement, and over-communicating in the realm of remote learning
  2. Offer virtual office hours and one-on-one meetings to increase facetime with students, build trust, and gain student learning insights. Additionally, such meetings may allow an opportunity for your students to communicate any special circumstances that inform their unique learning challenges. 
  3. Increase feedback loops to guide students in their learning and gain insight into learning gaps. Educators can then match assessment to student needs via item analysis. In doing so, teaching efficacy increases, students feel more supported, and assessments are designed with integrity. 
  4. Offer a diverse arrangement of assessment types to support student-learning by including different learning styles and increasing the variety of insights gleaned from assignments and exams. While exams ought to measure learning accurately--a variety of assessment types supports the educational journey. For example, multiple-choice exams can test a wide variety of concepts in a short timespan while essays test higher-order thinking.
  5. When looking for plagiarism checkers and academic integrity tools, ensure that the tool you choose upholds best practices in teaching and learning. These best practices include feedback, an opportunity to diagnose skill gaps via item analysis, scaffolding to uphold educator and student workflows, and classroom resources beyond the product itself. 

The academic landscape continues to evolve in both anticipated and unexpected ways. It’s important to keep in mind challenges facing students and to make them feel supported and seen, regardless of the learning platform. While technology both aids and mitigates academic misconduct and is the battleground for academic integrity in recent years, educators still have the opportunity to instill academic integrity and a love of learning in students through relationship building, feedback, and exam design. And it’s important to choose tools that support these pedagogical principles.

For more information on new and emerging plagiarism trends, and how to address them in your courses, check out the Plagiarism Spectrum 2.0.

Download the new Plagiarism Spectrum 2.0
Find out how to address new and emerging trends in misconduct with Turnitin Originality.