Academic Integrity Strategies

Below are some tips and tools that can be used in online learning to help students uphold the academic standards of our university community.

According to academic integrity specialist Madison Hansen academic integrity is “engaging with all of our academic work and the people in our communities of learning in a way that is honest, open, and ethical” so university community members can get the most out of their time and efforts. She explains that a university community is filled with individuals who want to be and do their best, but they may find themselves navigating new experiences without the confidence to make the best choice.

How to Build In Academic Integrity Strategies

Build Student Understanding of Academic Integrity

  • Promote Academic Integrity from the beginning of the semester and throughout. Engage students in a conversation about what it means to be ethical in their coursework.

  • Include an Academic Integrity statement in the syllabus that clearly outlines expectations.

  • Support students in avoiding plagiarism by modeling and requiring proper citations and providing practice for paraphrasing.

Strategies for Written Assignments

  • Require annotated bibliographies in which students have summarized potential reference sources and identified how they may support the intent of the assigned research.

  • Break research and writing projects into phases with activities throughout a course that culminate in a final written submission. This not only results in stronger final submissions but reduces the opportunity for submitting a final product that was created by someone else.

  • Add plagiarism detection tools to assignments in Canvas, allowing written submissions to be checked for proper documentation and potential plagiarism.

Strategies for Discussions

The Canvas discussion setting “Users must post before seeing…” prevents students from seeing anything on the discussion forum until they make their initial post. But, if the global discussion setting is checked that students may “Edit and Delete Their Own Posts” they can go around that by posting, then reading, copying other students' posts, and then editing their initial posts.

Possible Canvas Settings when experiencing plagiarism issues in course discussions:

  • Use the discussion setting “Users must post before…” in conjunction with adjusting the global setting so students can’t edit their posts, and encourage students to write their thoughts prior to posting. Students that want to edit or delete their posts will need to contact the instructor.

  • Rather than using a discussion as the submission venue, consider having students submit their thoughts using a file upload assignment with a plagiarism tool setting selected for high-value work.


  • If the work is to be peer-reviewed via a discussion after the assignment submission, consider using due/dates and availability dates or the sequential Requirement setting for additional safeguards.

Strategies for Testing

  • Create tough questions, particularly in open-book situations, so it requires more than skimming a page to determine an answer. 

  • Focus on higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy for questions that require more analyzing, applying, and evaluating versus remembering and understanding. 

  • Limit test-taking times. In Canvas, for example, an instructor can adjust options, such as setting a timer for completing a test or limiting the time a test is available. With limited time, students are less able to communicate with others or look up answers from unapproved sources.

  • Use LMS settings to display random questions from pools so students will receive different versions of the same test. 

  • Select the option to show answers to question in random order for multiple choice questions.

  • Update or change questions regularly to eliminate the potential for questions to be shared with future classes.

  • Engage the Boise State Testing Center for remote test proctoring if needed. 

Use Alternatives to Tests

Online learning provides more opportunities for assessing learning than one might find in most physical classrooms. By removing scheduled time limits and the physical environment, students can demonstrate their ability to perform tasks, analyze situations, solve problems, apply solutions, and innovate with their new knowledge and understanding. There are a variety of alternatives to tests when it comes time to Assess Online Learning. Here are just a few:

  • Video recordings of students performing tasks or role-playing a scenario

  • Podcasts explaining concepts

  • Un-essays provide creativity and a choice of methods to demonstrate a concept

  • Creation of 3-D models of solutions or design concepts


Instead of this

Do this

Mid-term exam

Short quizzes with each module drawing random questions from large test pools

Final exam

Final project demonstrating course learning objectives

Proctored test

Open-book test with random questions to be completed in 45 minutes

End-of-course research paper

Research paper completed in stages with assignments relating to topic selection, library research and citation skills, annotated bibliography, draft of sections with peer evaluation, video presentation highlighting results and lessons learned, final submission

Related Information

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