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Promoting Academic Integrity

While the transition to online/remote teaching presents some important changes to the ways in which instructors deliver their classes, instructors are still responsible for maintaining academic integrity in their courses. Below, we have listed some strategies for promoting academic integrity in your classes. But first, please consider how recent research demonstrates that some of our assumptions about our students' digital abilities and inclinations may be unwarranted.

You might assume that...Ample research has shown that...
Students were born with electronic devices in their hands and are accustomed to living in a digital world.Students are digital social butterflies, but are not inherently digital learners. Multiple methods of teaching and learning are still important in online and remote learning.
There is more cheating in online courses.Students do not cheat more in online courses than in face-to-face courses. However, the nature of cheating can change. For example, there might be an increased use of third party or unauthorized materials.
Students come to university for a transactional experience.Students want to learn, and learn honestly! When instructors demonstrate that they care about the student’s well-being, the student is more likely to care about their own learning.
Students know what it means to be academically honest.Students coming from high school are still cognitively learning about moral development, and may not have been taught about academic honesty.

Promoting academic integrity in your classes

1. Repeat, repeat, repeat…

Tell your students about academic integrity whenever you can, and not only in the course syllabus. Many students want to learn honestly, but the standards of academic conduct in online/remote learning may seem ambiguous for some students. Instructors can address this issue by taking the time to discuss York University’s policies with students, especially in relation to projects, assignments and examinations as they occur throughout the term. When in doubt, refer to the York University Academic Honesty Senate Policy.

2. Give clear expectations

When reminding students about academic integrity, keep the focus on how your assessments promote learning rather than how they prevent cheating. Give clear direction on what students should be doing, and explain what resources they are permitted to use.

When providing instructions, faculty members should consider the following:

  • Are students allowed to collaborate?
  • In group work, are students allowed to hand in one assignment together?
  • Does the assignment need to be completed individually?
  • Who can students ask for help (e.g. professors, peers, TA, librarians)?
  • How can students ask for help?

3. Provide the right resources

Help students complete their assignments by offering them online resources to scaffold their learning. Here is a brief list of YorkU resources that can be offered as great starting points for students:

4. Consider assessment alternatives

Going online and remote can be a difficult process for all involved. Be mindful of the fact that both you and your students may not have access to the same cutting-edge technology, or even a stable high-speed Internet connection. Consider designing your tests and assignments in ways that achieve your course objectives while keeping potential technological barriers in mind. Redesign assessments that were originally created for face-to-face proctored environments, by providing an alternative assessment. For more ideas about alternative assessments, please review the resources below.

5. Reach out for help

If you have questions about academic honesty, please do not hesitate to connect with Sarah Burley Hollows (, Manager of Student Academic Affairs, Achievement & Awards.

Thank you to Dr. Sarah Eaton at the University of Calgary. The above information has been adapted from her presentation Academic Integrity in Online Courses: Adapting during COVID-19.