Academic Integrity and Online Assessment

On this topic, see Catherine Sanger’s article in Times Higher Ed:

Some faculty may be concerned about students taking exams from their own computer, in their own room may be more likely to copy material from the internet or copy each other’s work. There are a few strategies that address this concern.

Design Less Cheat-able Assessments

Avoid easy-to-cheat formats like multiple choice or objective (simple definitional or right or wrong answer) questions. Instead, ask more synthetic, complex, nuanced questions that require critical thinking and creativity. Also, design assignments that are specific to your course material such that answers are unlikely to be found online. E.g., instead of asking a student to “define the Collective Action Problem”, instead ask them to “define and describe a collective action problem specific to the Yale-NUS context.” That isn’t something they are likely to find on Wikipedia! If you must conduct assignments that are relatively easy to cheat on, add a reflective writing component at the end where students have to discuss their process and reflect on the experience of the exam. Together these strategies will make it harder for students to simply copy and paste from online sources or copy each other’s work.

Use the Technology

Use Timed Exams on Canvas, which will force students to work efficiently and reduces the amount of time they can use searching online.

Use TurnitIn, which is already built-into Canvas. Contact for assistance.

Activate Honour

Have students sign an integrity statement on a cover page using a digital signature or by typing their name in full. You can use language like this:

Academic Integrity is a central tenant of the Yale-NUS College experience. College regulations state that “Yale-NUS College upholds the highest standards of integrity common to the academy. Honesty and academic integrity are foundational to our intellectual mission.” ( As such, I expect all students to complete this work with integrity and forgo any of the following: [detail most relevant breaches given your course/ assignment/ discipline such as copying from internet sources, discussing answers with peers, etc.].


Please sign below affirming that your work is your own and has been conducted with full integrity.


___________                          _____________

Signature                                Date


Lean into It

Rather than designing a ‘cheat-proof’ test, instead deliberately design open-book, open-source, or even collaborative assignments. Instead of creating structures that prevent students from using their reading or notes, or that forbid collaboration, build assignments that encourage collaboration. In most post-college endeavours students will not be told to produce work in total isolation. Similarly, we can design assignments that mirror the ‘real world,’ where you have access to books, internet, and colleagues for help.

Let it Go

Sometimes we spend more time thinking about how to minimize cheating than thinking about how to enhance learning. Assessment activities can ideally also be learning activities – opportunities for students to solidify and deepen their knowledge. If assessment design promotes learning, but creates some small opportunity for cheating, sometimes that is unavoidable. So one option is to just let it go. Start from a position of trust in your students and tell them that you hold them in high regard and expect them to act honourably. Then design your assignments focused on learning and worry less on preventing cheating.

Here are some arguments on the futility and danger of remote proctoring tools:

Additional Resources for Online Assessment: