Assessment Design and Academic Misconduct

First, the not-so-good news

There is no such thing as a “cheat-proof” assessment.   

Now, for the good news

Instructors can reduce the likelihood of academic misconduct through assessment design and the context for assessment.   

Such designs and contexts are those that help students to  

  • see the value of the learning,  
  • hold positive expectations, and  
  • regard academic integrity as the norm.  

We can categorize these in terms of actions to take related to

  • assessment method,
  • nature of the restrictions or conditions set for completing the assessment, and
  • context for the learning itself. 

The following table groups strategies and what we might expect students to say (in italics) about the experience if design elements like these were in place.

Broad Strategies and What Students Might Say

  Assessment Method  Nature of Restrictions   Context for Learning
Value the learning  Choice:

I got to select my topic, or my format for assessment to be what I find motivating

Relevance

I can see how learning to do or produce what is required on this assessment relates to my future

Authentic:  

I would need to be able to use my knowledge or skills under similar restrictions in ‘real life’

Relational: 

I value and respect the teaching and learning relationships my instructor has established

Hold positive expectations  Feedback

I received information about my learning progress and what I need to do next to improve 

Achievable

I can manage my time and effort to do what is required 

Practised:

I have practised for this assessment under these same restrictions and now I know what to do

Ethical

I expect this assessment offers students an equitable and fair opportunity to show what has been learned 

See academic integrity as the norm  Transferable:

I see how skills and values for academic integrity transfer to my future

Professionalism

I see how collaborative and independent work is done appropriately in this field

Diligence: 

I see that assessments are monitored by instructors and academic misconduct has consequences 

 

 

Support

I see how my instructor has supported my (and our) academic integrity

Looking for ideas?

What would it take in terms of revision or adjustment to your current assessment to allow students to make some or more of the kinds of statements that appear in italics?

An email to gmctl@usask.ca to set up a discussion with an interested educational development specialist or review of Gwenna Moss Centre resources like this one  can allow you to take a manageable next step in assessment design.  For ideas on different formats and methods, the Waterloo Centre for Teaching Excellence has several good information pages, for example:  https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/developing-assignments/assignment-design/types-of-learning-activities 

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