Checks in place?

How teachers can ensure academic integrity in assessments in an online learning environment

October 14, 2021 10:19 am | Updated October 15, 2021 04:41 pm IST

Assessment is critical in gauging learning and acts as a communication channel among students and educators, especially in online learning.

Assessment is critical in gauging learning and acts as a communication channel among students and educators, especially in online learning.

Assessment is critical in gauging learning and acts as a communication channel among students and educators, especially in online learning. With a student population of over 250 million, the shift to an online class modality has been quite challenging for India’s education system that was mainly reliant on traditional methods.

Face-to-face classroom settings enable educators to observe students physically and may aid in quicker evaluation of levels of understanding during discussions. In contrast, online classrooms require teachers to take extra steps to ensure a fair and inclusive assessment environment. By adopting an inclusive assessment strategy, educators have an opportunity to gather valuable information, help improve teaching, and enhance the efficacy of the curriculum, regardless of the platform or format. Educator effectiveness and student learning will eventually rely upon the quality and integrity of assessment design and delivery.

Remote learning and the challenges of misconduct

Education institutions are liable for safeguarding assessment arrangements against scholarly misconduct, while ensuring that students presenting their work in challenging circumstances are treated fairly. They also need to consider the number of activities assigned to students and ensure that they have sufficient opportunity to create their best work. Sometimes, to compensate for the lack of in-person interaction, educators tend to give more written work and performance tasks, which can overwhelm students who may then resort to shortcuts.

This can potentially lead to students resorting to questionable means such as using cheat sheets, plagiarism, contract cheating and impersonation. They can also resort to different types of misconduct such as using translation engines and text spinners to bypass integrity tools, as well as AI text generators and computational applications to complete exams. To assist with academic integrity in assessments, educators may integrate the following steps:

Create different variants of the test by rephrasing and modifying question arrangements to prevent student collusion. Educators can use grading software with built-in answer grouping and learning analytics features, which can help identify meaningful patterns in exam responses to support marking and evaluation.

Incorporate ‘metacognition’ strategies for relevant assessments that encourage students to show their work or explain their thought process, which also supports their creative and critical thinking skills.

Apply assessment security measures such as setting a completion time frame for students aligned with the school’s assessment policies and academic calendar. Educators can also use tools such as browser lockdowns and test trackers to manage the test environment against prohibited materials or external help.

Provide regular formative feedback and support to encourage critical thinking and uphold students’ originality in assignments

Leverage advanced integrity tools to check not only for text and code similarities, but identify deliberate text manipulations designed to bypass plagiarism checkers, and detect the signs of contract cheating.

The writer is Regional Director – South Asia, Turnitin India

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