Loyola University Chicago

Office of Online Learning

Prevention and Detection of Academic Integrity Violations

Instructors in online courses can help prevent and detect academic integrity violations through the use of technology as well good course, assessment, and assignment design strategies. In the sections that appear below, we cover some of the most common technology and design strategies used to encourage students to complete work that is of high academic integrity. 

One common technology to help detect academic integrity violations is anti-plagiarism software, which allows instructors to check students’ written work for citation or plagiarism errors by comparing it to existing texts online and, often, within a custom database. Instructors can inform students that they will be using anti-plagiarism software and may also choose to use the software as a learning opportunity for students by allowing them to view the software's report about their work and revise accordingly.

At Loyola, Turnitin is the anti-plagiarism software available to instructors and integrated into the Sakai LMS. Visit What is Turnitin? for more information about what is possible through Turnitin. For instructions on using Turnitin in Sakai to prevent and detect academic integrity violations in online courses, visit How do I enable Turnitin for an assignment?

When students need to pick topics for written assignments in online courses, having an instructor set some guidelines, requirements, or restrictions in topic choice can help prevent academic integrity issues. One option is to let students choose from a pre-determined list of specific topics; greater topic specificity can reduce the chances that students could find material online that fulfills the topic requirement.

Another good tactic is to create topics that have students incorporate their own views, knowledge, or life experience into written assignments, whenever the online course material allows. Not only are students less likely to plagiarize such material (or be able to plagiarize such material), but cognitive research also shows that more information is retained when new knowledge is connect to students' pre-existing knowledge and experience. 

Students in online courses can often get into trouble with researched assignments if they procrastinate, increasing the temptation to take shortcuts at the last minute. To prevent possible academic integrity violations with researched assignments, instructors can have students submit their resources before the assignment is due as a first step in the writing and research process; an annotated bibliography is one possible way to do this. Not only will students have to do research work early in the process and not run up against tight timelines, but online instructors may also be able to catch citation errors or misunderstandings earlier in the research process. 

If the research is not a key goal of an assignment, online instructors can also give students a predetermined list of sources for an assignment. By doing so, students may be less likely to look outside these sources for material for their work. 

Online quizzes and tests can be a thorny area for academic integrity given the ready availability of information on the Internet, but instructors can promote academic integrity in this area by asking questions of more complex application - rather than simple recall - in their online courses. Multiple-choice, true/false, or short-answer test questions that only ask for recall of course material make it easy for students to find that material in the course text(s) or online. However, questions that ask students to apply information to new situations - via problem-solving, using knowledge in new scenarios, case studies, etc. - can help deter the easy use of course texts or online information to answer the questions. Questions of application also have the added benefit of increasing student learning and moving students more quickly to expertise. 


In the settings of an online assessment, instructors can choose to show just one question per page, which makes it more difficult for students to share test questions with others. Visit the page How do I adjust the Layout and Appearance of an assessment? for instructions on changing this setting in the Tests and Quizzes tool in Sakai.

When creating quizzes and tests in online courses, randomizing the order of possible answers to a question makes it more difficult for students to share answers with each other and violate academic integrity standards. Instructors can randomize the order of possible answers for a question when creating multiple-choice questions in the Tests and Quizzes tool in Sakai; visit the "Choose whether or not to randomize answers" section of How do I create a multiple choice question? for more information.

For online tests and quizzes, randomizing the order in which questions appear to each student makes it more difficult for students to violate academic integrity standards by sharing answers with each other. Instructors can randomize their assessment question order in the Tests and Quizzes tool in Sakai using the question pools feature of Sakai. To randomize the order of questions in an assessment in the Tests and Quizzes tool in Sakai, follow the steps listed here:

For quiz or test questions that involve variables, such as math problems, online instructors can use question pools to randomize the variables for each student, making it difficult for students to share answers with each other. To randomize variables in an online assessment in the Tests and Quizzes tool in Sakai, follow the steps listed here:

Avoid giving students the correct answers to assessment questions until all students have submitted their assessment; this prevents students from sharing the correct answers with each other. Instructors can adjust the settings of an assessment in the Tests and Quizzes tool in Sakai so that all students receive feedback on a specific date. For detailed instructions, visit the Feedback Delivery section of How do I view and modify the settings of an assessment?

When time limits are in place for online assessments, students have less time to look up the answers to questions in instructional materials or through Internet search engines. Additionally, students have less time to collaborate with their peers. Instructors can set time limitations for assessments in the Tests and Quizzes tool in Sakai. For detailed instructions visit the Delivery Dates and Time Limit section of How do I view and modify the settings of an assessment?

Proctoring is when a student is recorded while taking an exam or when a student takes the exam while being monitored live using webcams. Proctoring ensures that the individual taking an exam is the student enrolled in the course and that students taking an exam are not receiving assistance from instructional materials or from a peer. Proctoring requires added preparation from the instructor and the students and may be seen by online students as invasive. For these reasons, it is recommended to review the other available academic integrity strategies available before choosing whether or not to proctor an online exam. 

Learn more about Examity, LUC's online proctoring service. 

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