Promoting Academic Integrity through Assessment Design

This resource covers ways to promote Academic Integrity by communicating through the syllabus or by having the talk with your students, through assessment design, and through information literacy.

Promoting Integrity

  • Explain requirements and expectations for assessments
  • Explain reason for these rules and how they make assessments fair for all.
  • Avoid statements that focus on penalties only.
  • Commit to following-up on concerns of academic misconduct.
  • Strive for an open, supportive relationship with your students where AI may be discussed.
  • Discuss and promote the value of learning itself.
  • Reduce student anxiety and pressure through:
    • reduced final assessment value,
    • use of take home exams or open book exams, and
    • share details relating to question types or topics on exams.

Assessment Design

Recommendations for assessment design to promote or maintain academic integrity include:

  1. Design Assessments:
    • that scaffold students though the development of academically honest behaviours;
    • that allow students to incorporate some of their own personal experience, ideas or reflections;
    • to promote academic integrity should move from no-grade to low-stakes to high-stakes to support students as they develop their confidence over time; and
    • use a personalized approach. These assessments can be small and sequential, with prompt feedback.
  2. Embed assessment into coursework and not form part of a stand-alone ‘academic integrity-type’ module.
  3. Provide feedback on the specific skills to be developed to students in a productive and timely way.
  4. Provide examples of ‘good’ responses to ensure that all students have the same understanding of academic integrity.
  5. Focus on approaches that require independent thinking and analysis
  6. Consider various exam and question types
    • oral, demo, open book, take home, scenario, group quiz (low stakes), letter to . . .
  7. Include an Academic Integrity question (honor pledge)
    • Statement at beginning of exam, first question in exam (yes/no, true/false)
    • Creatively remind students about Academic Integrity — statement at beginning of exam, at end of essays or papers, included in the guidelines for assignments.

Provide Elements of Choice in Assessments

  • Give student choice to adjust values of grading scheme — yes, this may cause some work for you in terms of adjusting the gradebook.
  • Allow choice of assignment format
    • (paper, video, portfolio, annotated bibliography, etc.)
  • Provide opportunities, where viable, to submit drafts of papers or assignments for feedback
  • Structure assessments such that pieces are submitted periodically through semester as low stakes assessments, e.g. outline, references, introduction, full paper, etc.
  • Ask students to reflect on what and how they learned and the connections to other topics in their program

Question Design

Here are a few suggestions relating to design elements of questions to keep in mind:

  • Use questions that require critical thinking (higher-order or open-ended q’s)
  • Use questions that apply course content to real world situations, events or controversies
  • Use scenario questions — situation description with questions
  • Use analysis of visuals — ask theoretical or detailed questions related to visuals
  • Use questions which require an explanation of ‘why’ or ‘how’
  • Assess material covered in class more so than readings
  • Limit sources/references to specific time period or region
  • Make judicious use of test banks:
    • be selective and revise questions, and
    • build your own bank by copying a question and changing variables.
  • Employ unique question types — scenario or branching stories, analysis of visuals or quotes
  • Question banks — randomization of question or of options
    • when using test banks or sections, look at the total number of questions of each type and level of difficulty; ensure questions are fair and of same level of difficulty
    • randomization (multiple choice, essays, etc.); randomization of options (multiple choice questions)
    • divide the question bank into sections to ensure more material from across the course is being covered.
    • the larger the question bank with lower number of items being selected, the more randomization there will be, and possibly the more complex the exam.
    • ensure questions are fair and of same level of difficulty
    • make adjustments in stages

Avoid Questions that Have

  • ambiguous grammar,
  • incomplete statements,
    • e.g. which is capital of x…
    • challenging for non-native speakers
  • extremes:
    • all; none; most
  • confusing options:
    • All or None of the above; Never; A but not C.

Delivery Considerations: Logistics

  • Timing, duration, date — who schedules it, invigilation, accommodations
    • Judge timing by reading every question word-for word slowly to get a good estimate of how long it will take to complete them and the quiz in total.
    • For long answers, make a note or list of key statements you will look for when grading the essays or short answers.
  • One sitting — everyone writing at same time, or within window of opportunity with set submission time
  • Number of questions displayed at a time
  • Can they look back or forward to other pages?
  • Detail of feedback and grades — delay till after submission limit, automatic, instructor-managed?
    • Delay score availability as a means to prevent students sharing questions and answers
  • Grading details given in advance
  • Rubrics, formatting and style details, depth of course concepts needed, etc.