Academic Integrity Strategies

Academic integrity remains a priority in higher education settings, especially in light of increased online course offerings. Preventing academic misconduct in your courses may seem challenging, but pedagogical best practices point to several strategies that help encourage academic integrity.

In-depth information about these best practices can be found in publications like Inside Higher Ed, which has featured articles advocating for the value of quality instruction as a preventative measure. The International Center for Academic Integrity, an immense resource for instructors, created a list of "Top 10 Ways to Improve Academic Integrity Without (Much) Money.

Below is a distillation of the most widely recommended methods for discouraging academic misconduct.

Course Design Strategies to Encourage Academic Integrity

Incorporating academic integrity in your course design can help reduce the likelihood of cheating. Below, you'll find a list of strategies for designing your course using an academic integrity lens.

  • Create pre-assessment resources (i.e., checklists) that fully prepare students for assignments and exams.
  • Clearly articulate the learning objectives measured by an assessment so that students understand the value of mastering the material.
  • Develop paired assignments in which the skills acquired in one assessment can be used in a subsequent one. If students cheat on an initial assessment, they will face consequences in latter assessments as they lack the requisite skills.
  • Provide detailed, specific assessment instructions, including models of success.
  • Focus curricula on the external value of the skills. Demonstrate how the skills can be used outside of the course (i.e., in a job interview, on a jobsite).
  • Personalize the student's experience in the course. Help them feel ownership of the material rather than a transactional orientation to the course.
  • Provide as much transparency as possible to ensure students understand how they will be assessed and why assessments utilize a particular structure or modality.

Pedagogical Best Practices for Reducing Cheating 

Two significant ways to mitigate cheating in online courses:  

  • Reduce Motivation to Cheat
    • Display the external value of mastering the skills learned in the course.
    • Effectively prepare learners for assessments so that they approach assignments and exams confidently.
  • Reduce Pressure on Individual Assignments  
    • Utilize frequent formative assessments such that less pressure is exerted on one large, end-of-course summative assessment.   
    • Construct more summative assessments to more evenly distribute the weight of assessments, thereby reducing the perceived need to cheat.

If you have concerns about a particular incidence of academic misconduct, please reach out to For support with your online course, including assistance in creating and editing assessments, submit a request to the EP Help Desk.

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