Preventative Resources

General Strategies

  • Clarify Penalties. At the beginning of each semester and throughout your course, clearly communicate with students the penalties associated with violating the Honor Code. Be familiar with our policies and process regarding how to handle academic dishonesty.
  • Course-Specific Explanations. Help students understand specific policies related to academic integrity as it relates to your course. Policies related to teamwork and collaborative activities may vary by course, and should always be explained in the syllabus.
  • Expectations and Accountability. Ensure your syllabus spells out expectations, and hold yourself and your students accountable to them. Discuss your specific course expectations with your students and encourage students to ask for clarification if they do not understand something related to academic integrity. See also our Syllabus Requirements page.
  • Integrity Quizzes. Consider quizzing students on academic integrity and other course policies during your first or second class. You can give this quiz whether the course is an online or in-person course.
  • Honor Statements. Consider adding the honor statement on all work submissions and ask students to sign the statement prior to submitting each assignment.
  • Study Sites. Be aware of and monitor "study sites" for your materials, exams, and assignments, and issue a takedown notice if and when you find any.
  • Familiarization and Understanding. Understand how students commit acts of academic dishonesty. Students can commit acts of academic dishonesty in a number of ways. You should be familiar with these possibilities and take proactive steps in preventing them. Students often may be one step ahead of you when it comes to cheating and plagiarism, but you should make reasonable efforts to find out how students commit acts of academic dishonesty. This information can be obtained through various resources, including professional development workshops, web resources, journal publications and networking with colleagues.
  • Exam Absences. Prepare in advance for students who are sick or otherwise absent for exams. Consider requiring a doctor's note and using alternate assessments (e.g., a different type of assessment that students perceive as being harder, even if not truly harder). Tell the students about this practice in your course contract or syllabus.
  • Grade Limits. Limit grades for collected homework to no more than 10% of the total course grade, except in courses where regular practice is deemed essential and which cannot be replaced by in-class quizzes or exams.
  • Alternative Assignments. Replace the balance of customary homework assignment grades (traditionally, 25-30% of the course grade was typical) with a second midterm or in-class quizzes closely based on homework assignments.
  • Know Your Students. Get to know your students. When students feel they are invisible in your classroom and think you do not know them, they may be tempted to cheat or plagiarize. Students will most often be embarrassed to commit acts of academic dishonesty when you know their names and who they are. If you take the time to learn student names, call students by name inside and outside the classroom, and also show an interest in student learning and academic performance, students will be less likely to cheat or plagiarize.
  • Learn Student Names. Even in large classes, you can make an effort to learn a few names in each class and address students by name, or you can arrive to class early and get to know students through informal conversations. It is also important for you to familiarize yourself with the unique issues related to cultural differences and avoid misunderstanding or stereotyping students from different backgrounds.
  • Be an Example. One effective step for preventing academic dishonesty is for you to model academic integrity in all situations. You should include proper citations and acknowledgments in all instructional and research materials and follow copyright, fair use, and intellectual property guidelines. Seeing you demonstrate academic integrity makes a much stronger impression on your students than simply hearing about policies and procedures.
  • Resource Familiarity. If you are familiar with the journal publications, conferences, popular textbooks, and web resources in the areas you teach, you will be able to guide students in using those resources properly for course activities. Familiarity with those resources also makes detecting plagiarism easier.
  • Encourage Meetings. Students often participate in academic misconduct because they are doing poorly in the class. Explain to students that you are willing and available to discuss academic concerns with them. Regularly encourage students to go to your office hours or to schedule a time to meet with you, or both.
  • Encourage Reporting. Encourage students to reach out to you if they suspect other students are engaging in academic misconduct.
  • Consistent Handling. Be consistent with addressing potential academic misconduct incidents.
  • Referring Issues. Refer students to us when necessary and appropriate. Information on how to do so can be found on Referrals. Taking a strong stance and completing the paperwork for such violations lets students know that they cannot violate academic integrity standards. When you pursue violations, students can come to understand that it does not serve them well to engage in cheating.

Writing Assignment Strategies

  • Avoid General Topics. Avoid topics that are too general where students can easily purchase papers online.
  • Status Reports. Ask for a tentative bibliography and outline in advance.
  • Establish Student Styles. Have students complete in-class writing assignments to help establish a student’s voice and writing style.
  • Vary Projects. Vary your final project list so that no two similar projects are assigned in back-to-back years.
  • Randomize Assignments. Randomize project assignments, so friends are not assigned the same projects.
  • Set Collaboration Limits. Clearly explain what level of collaboration is acceptable, emphasizing that students must submit individual reports and are graded individually.
  • Prior Work. If a student wants to continue work from a previous class, consult with the student and develop clear expectations regarding the assignment. To verify the student is expanding prior assignment, have the student turn in their prior assignment before they start your project so that you can verify the student's additional work.
  • Compare Styles. Compare a student's "voice" on a writing assignment with his or her discussion postings and e-mail messages. If the voice is dramatically different, examine the written assignment more closely.
  • Anti-Plagiarism Services. Use Blackboard's SafeAssign or Turnitin to ensure that writing assignments do not contain plagiarism. Be sure your course syllabus states you will use that service.
  • Provide Actual Examples. Students often have trouble relating the abstract definitions of cheating and plagiarism to their own work. They need concrete examples and specific guidance to help them recognize and avoid cheating and plagiarism. By providing examples of student work (without names or identifying information) from prior semesters, you can demonstrate the do's and don'ts to your current students.
  • Discuss Writing Expectations. It is a good idea to discuss good writing strategies, different citation styles, and proper paraphrasing techniques, and to provide students with a list of online resources pertaining to such topics. Listed below are some online resources that students may find useful:

Quiz, Exam, and Homework Strategies

  • Authentic Assessment. Consider authentic assessment (activities or projects where students demonstrate an application of their learning) utilizing rubrics where possible. Not only will rubrics save time in grading, but they will make expectations for all assignments clear for students.
  • Blueprinting. Utilize test blueprinting to produce fair exam question pools. This also makes it easier to create multiple questions that test the same idea. For more information on blueprinting a test, see Penn State’s Blueprinting an Assignment for details.
  • Vary Testing. Change exams and quizzes each semester or create three or four versions that you rotate throughout the year. Students use course material sharing sites such as CourseHero to share course information, so changing things up is often the best way to prevent issues.
  • Explain Your Approach. Share with students in advance about the methods you are taking to prevent academic misconduct during exams. This information may help deter students from engaging in academic misconduct.
  • Provide Clear Instructions. Give oral and written instructions concerning material allowed or not allowed during the exam at the start of the exam.
  • Modify Seating. Randomize seating order to avoid friends sitting together or have students fill out a seating chart that you can reference if you suspect academic misconduct. You may also periodically change seating throughout the semester.
  • Student Leaving Room. If a student needs to leave the room, collect their exam materials while the student is out of the room, or ensure the student places his or her answer sheet facing down on the desk or within the question booklet.
  • "Setting" Answers. After the exam, mark the answer sheets in a way that responses cannot be changed and allows you to check whether there have been alterations when a student brings up a concern about grading. You can also scan a copy of the exams before returning them to students.
  • Alternate Makeup Exams. Give an alternate version of the exam for students you allow to make up the test, and avoid letting students take tests early. If a student needs to make up an exam due to a foreseen personal issue, require them to take the exam after everyone else.
  • Vary Homework. Rotate homework assignments so that no two similar assignments are used in back-to-back years.
  • Vary Section Assignments. Use different versions of the assignment for each course section. Create two or three versions of a test, but differentiate them with only a small tick or mark prior to copying. This way, students won't recognize the exams as different, but you will. Further, it will help detect if a student copied an incorrect answer from a nearby classmate.
  • Vary Answer Keys. Ensure that different versions of an exam do not use the same grading scheme (e.g., change question or answer orders).
  • Discard Impermissibles. Require students to put books, backpacks, and other items not permitted during exams completely away (e.g., under chairs or in the front of the room).
  • Scratch Paper. Distribute blank paper with exams so students can use it for scratch and cover completed work.
  • Delay Posting Answer. Do not post answers until after all sections take the exam.

Online Course Strategies

  • Create Quiz Banks. Create your own quiz banks and randomize the questions and answers so that students have a more difficult time sharing answers.
  • Reasonable Time Constraints. Limit the time during which a student can complete an online assessment to something that is reasonable, yet prevents looking up answers.
  • Utilize a Proctor. For high-stakes assessments like exams, consider requesting a proctor.
  • Utilize Blackboard Reports. Utilize the reports available in Blackboard to analyze suspicious test results. For example, you can easily see the exact time and date when a student took a Blackboard-based exam. If you contact Blackboard support, you can even see the IP address they had. The IP address designates what computer they were using to access the assessment. If you see two similar test results from the same date or time and from contiguous IP addresses, you might surmise that the two students were sitting next to each other in a computer lab! Note: IP addresses are in the format of four sets of numbers separated by decimal points (e.g., 128.118.67.43).
  • Utilize Respondus LockDown Browser. Browser is a custom web browser that locks down the testing environment within Blackboard/Courses. You may choose to require Browser for any existing deployed test in your course. When a student uses Browser, they are unable to print, copy, go to another website, or access other applications on his or her computer. When an assessment is started, students are locked into the test until submitted for grading. Please read this page to learn how to require Browser for student tests. You may direct students to this page to learn how to install Browser.
  • Utilize Respondus Monitor. Monitor records webcam audio and video of the student taking a test through Respondus LockDown Browser. This ensures student identity and that your requirements (e.g., closed book or working alone) are followed. By default, Monitor will record both video and ambient sound. You may review the video after the test is complete. Please read this page to learn how to require both Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor. Please see this page to learn how to review Monitor recordings.
  • Utilize SafeAssign. SafeAssign is a plagiarism education and prevention service available through Blackboard to all faculty and students. It supports a multi-faceted approach to teaching and learning about plagiarism. Submissions are checked against public websites, ProQuest article research databases, the University’s institutional document archive, and a global reference database to help prevent cross-institutional plagiarism. Please read this page to learn how to create a SafeAssign assignment.

In-Person Course Strategies

  • Phones. Require that student phones are face down on top of desks so that it is clear if a student picks up his or her phone and looks at it during an assessment.
  • Walk Around. Walk around a lot! Proximity is an easy way to discourage cheating during exams.
  • Utilize a Proctor. Consider requesting a proctor for additional support during an important assignment.

Responding to Suspected Violations

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