Academic Integrity

Assessment Policies at the University of Alberta

The University of Alberta has an official policy about Grading and Assessment. Pertinent information regarding grading can also be found in the Academic Regulations of the University of Alberta Calendar. The Centre for Teaching and learning has produced a document to help instructors interpret these policies and apply them to their classroom.

Preventing Misconduct

According to the International Centre for Academic Integrity, academic integrity is "a commitment to five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility,” (Fishman, 2013, p. 16).

Given this definition, take a minute to answer the following questions:

  1. What does academic integrity look like in your classroom (for your assessments)?
  2. What would constitute academic misconduct with an individual assignment?
  3. With a group assignment? What are your worries about the academic integrity of online learning/assessment?

The Best Way to Maintain Academic Integrity is Preventing Infractions

The literature on academic integrityis clear, the best way to avoid infractions is prevention through communication. Students often aren't clear on academic integrity and find that varying opinions convolute the term even more so (Graves & Watson, 2020). We suggest that instructors take the time to provide clear guidelines about academic integrity in their course and the potential repercussions of academic misconduct. Talkabout academic integrity, be open and honest with your students; above all, we caution against assuming students know what is expected and glossing over this important information.

The following resources might be helpful in designing this classroom conversation:

After informing yourself about academic integrity, outline (a) what might be included in your course syllabus on this topic, and (b) your conversation to have about academic integrity in your course(s).

Works Cited

Fishman, T.A. (Ed.) (2013). The fundamental values of academic integrity (2nd ed). International Centre for Academic Integrity.

Graves, R., & Watson, E. (2020). Academic integrity in online teaching environments: What do instructors need to know? [Podcast]. Teaching+.

1For a comprehensive list of seminal articles see


Plagiarism is an issue in both face-to-face and online learning environments.

Some strategies to prevent plagiarism include:

  • some plagiarism can be prevented by informing students about what is considered plagiarism and what is not.
  • having students add a memo to their assignment that explains why they made the decisions during writing that they did (e.g. why this hypothesis, how did they identify key arguments, etc.).
  • provide examples of proper citation being clear about when an idea needs to be attributed to another within a paper.
  • create original assignments and vary the assignments from year to year.
  • have students submit rough drafts throughout the semester and comment on how their subsequent draft was changed based on feedback (from peers or instructors).

You may be wondering about the use of plagiarism detection software. This is certainly one option but this type of software is far from perfect. If you intend to use plagiarism detection software, please read this statement from the Office of the Vice-Provost (Academic) before selecting a tool.

Code of Student Behaviour

The University of Alberta's Code of Student Behaviour lists descriptions of unacceptable behaviour for students, the sanctions for commission of the offences, and explanations of the complete discipline and appeal processes.

Code of Student Behaviour - PDF Printable Version

Academic Integrity in Exams

When using auto-graded questions such as multiple-choice, matching, or fill-in-the-blank questions to give an exam, instructors are often worried about academic misconduct. Ideally, we could all give oral-examinations (or even written response exams) but in some classes these options are simply not feasible (e.g., the 250+ person course with one or two markers).

One way to prevent academic misconduct is to increase the number of exam points in a course. This way, students are assessed on a number of lower-stakes exams instead of a few very high-stakes exams. Students are less anxious about these exams because they are less risky and it is more difficult to find someone to "take your exam” since it requires a much more significant time commitment for the contracted party. 

For further reading on Academic Integrity with Exams, the following page on Handling Exams and Alternae Assessments page from Georgia Tech contains collected resources from learning centers across North America. 

When designing exams, avoid academic misconduct by:

  • adding an honesty check to your exam;
  • shuffling the question order during an exam;
  • randomizing question selection;
  • limiting access to quizzes by adding a password and giving specific time windows for completion;
    • you can set the time window in which students can access the exam as well as how long they have to complete the exam. For example, an exam may be available on Monday from 1 - 3 p.m. but once an exam is started students only have 30 minutes to finish.
  • consider separating auto-graded questions from longer-response questions (give two quizzes) since this gives you more control on the time for auto-graded questions;
    • studies have suggested 0.75 - 1 minute per multiple-choice question is sufficient response time in the average course.
  • using eClass' academic integrity feature, ExamLock (which is built into eClass). 
    • Note: This feature will prevent students from accessing material on that computer during the exam but not ensure this on other devices.
  • use a remote proctoring service;
    • The U of A currently uses the PSI remote proctoring service. If you are interested in using this service, please contact Information Services & Technology for more information. We recommend seeking department approval before using a proctoring service given the associated costs. 
  • consider giving open-book or take-home exams;
    • unlike some closed-book exams, open-book exams typically do not use memorize or recall type questions (since students have these answers in front of them) but, instead, tend to rely on questions that ask students to apply their knowledge or synthesize what they have learned to answer complex questions.
    • this document on Open Book Exams from Ryerson University provides some excellent advice and considerations when moving to an open-book exam.  
    • The difference between these two formats is that an open-book exam is often completed in a specific time frame (similar to a traditional exam) whereas a take-home exam will occur over 2 or 3 days. For more on the difference between open-book and take-home exams, please see our document titled Alternatives to Final Exams.
  • give more low-stakes quizzes instead of few high-stakes exams;
  • students are more likely to cheat on a high-stakes exam as they are easier to outsource and put a lot of pressure on students to perform. For more on reasons why students cheat, see this podcast Academic Integrity, Take 2: How often do students cheat? from Dr. Roger Graves.

Instructions on how to execute many of the non-linked options above on eClass can be found on IST's help pages (Knowledgebase).


Academic Integrity in Online Teaching Environments (May 14, 2020)
CTL's Roger Graves and Ellen Watson discuss how instructors might promote academic integrity (and prevent infractions) in their courses while teaching online. Read the article and listen here on CTL's Teaching+ Podcast.

This is Part Three in the Centre for Teaching and Learning’s four-part series, Teaching Online. Read Part One: Coming Out of Crisis Mode: Bettering the Remote Learning Environment or Part Two: The Most Common Questions for Teaching Online Part Four: Coming Together in Learning to Teach From Home.

How to Promote Academic Integrity in Remote Learning (May 04, 2020)
International Center for Academic Integrity
By Adriana Barberena

Academic integrity in regular classrooms is not always easy to achieve, now imagine in remote ones. With the COVID-19 pandemic, this topic has become much more important, I might even say alarming. Because of my work, teachers constantly ask me how can they ensure that their students work with academic integrity, some of them, are even more distrustful and think that with remote classes it will be more common for students to commit academic dishonesty.