Academic integrity means adhering to the core values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage. Ethical academic behavior is defined by these values, resulting in a community dedicated to learning and the exchange of ideas. Ensure that students and staff are performing academically ethically promotes a post-secondary institution’s reputation so that an academic transcript, degree, or certificate has a commonly accepted meaning and specific knowledge and abilities can be inferred from its holder. Individual students, in turn, profit from this reputation and the inferences drawn from their academic achievements. At a higher level, knowing and acting in line with a community’s underlying ideals of academic integrity establishes a shared framework for professional work, emphasising the importance of mastery of knowledge, skills, and talents.
In postsecondary education, fair and effective ways for promoting academic integrity have long been studied. Nonetheless, there is a general view that moral lapses are on the rise. New chances for “e-cheating” have arisen as a result of the introduction of technology into the classroom and the popularity of online education. Reports estimate that 30 per cent of students in degree-granting U.S. colleges and universities enrolled in at least one online course, and 44 per cent of faculty members reported teaching at least one entirely online course prior to 2020, demonstrating the need of considering “e-cheating.”
The COVID-19 pandemic, which began in 2020 and continues to this day, has produced extensive changes in higher education, with many schools in India embracing online learning modalities. Faculty and administrators are faced with the difficulty of creating techniques to appropriately assess student learning in an online setting while preserving academic standards as the number of totally online courses grows.
There are a variety of new ways to cheat, some of which are unique to the online course environment and others of which are also observed in in-person courses; these include, but are not limited to, downloading papers from the internet and claiming them as one’s own work, using materials without permission during an online exam, communicating with other students via the internet to obtain answers, or having another person complete an online exam or assignment instead of the student. Faculty and students, in particular, believe that online testing provides more potential for cheating than traditional, live-proctored classroom contexts, with the primary issues being student collaboration and the use of prohibited resources during the exam.
The purpose of this study is to examine and synthesise current academic integrity studies in higher education, with a focus on assessment procedures in online education. Understanding the various and complicated types and causes of academic dishonesty can help determine the array of strategies that can be utilised to promote academic integrity most effectively. As a result, we’ll discuss why students participate in academically dishonest behaviour, as well as strategies for reducing academically dishonest behaviour.
We’ll do so by taking into account four different aspects: individual factors, institutional factors, medium-related factors, and assessment-specific factors. Given the growing use of online courses in postsecondary education, we hope that this analysis will assist instructors and administrators in making decisions about online evaluations and promote future research that will serve as the foundation for evidence-based policies.
WHY DO STUDENTS ENGAGE IN ACADEMIC DISHONESTY?
Academic dishonesty (or “cheating”) encompasses actions like using unauthorized materials, facilitation (assisting others in cheating), falsification (misrepresenting oneself), and plagiarism (claiming another’s work as one’s own), all of which provide students with an unfair edge over their peers. These actions, in general, are in violation of an established University’s Norms of Conduct, which conveys expected standards of conduct. The term “e-dishonesty” has been used to describe online practices that violate academic integrity, and e-dishonesty poses additional concerns that instructors and administrators may not have considered previously.
For example, ‘electronic warfare’ (tampering with the laptop or test management system), impersonation, test item leakage, and the use of unauthorised resources such as searching the internet, communicating with others over a messaging system, purchasing answers from others, accessing local/external storage on their computer, or directly accessing a book or notes are all common concerns in relation to online exams. All of these sorts of behaviour fall under the broader umbrella phrase of ‘academic dishonesty,’ and we’ve highlighted them here to extend the scope of academic integrity considerations.
There are a variety of reasons why people may choose to break academic rules. Individual factors, institutional factors, medium-related factors, and assessment-specific elements are all taken into account in this review. Much of the research to date has focused on the on-campus, in-person learning environment, and we remark that much of this literature can be applied to online learning. We also mention where research is inadequate where appropriate, with the goal of stimulating more research.
Given the financial and logistical concerns that may make cheating detection through online proctoring and other technological solutions impractical, as well as privacy and data security concerns, some advocate for changes to exam formatting (structure, presentation) that can, in turn, prevent and deter cheating at a low cost. We outline factors to consider for both assessment structure and assessment presentation, with an emphasis on online assessments, that may encourage academic honesty. It’s also worth noting that many of these factors are intertwined, and many of them work together to help you make an honest judgement.
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