WGU: Guardian Ninjas of Student Success & Integrity

Concurrent Session 2

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

WGU creates innovative paths with technology and student support that has never been seen.  The panel will engage attendees with tools such as customized online proctored testing and a secure webcrawler to locate assessment items.  Participants will find hidden evidence of plagiarism and collaborate to build a culture of integrity.


Passionate about streamlining every student's journey to achieve their life goals though creative approaches to the challenges of access and affordability in higher education, Maureen O’Brien earned her MS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. While she spent her early career in telecommunications, she has always had a passion for education. After joining the evaluation faculty at Western Governors University in 2009, she has been instrumental in the development of the evaluation processes required to serve the growing WGU student population. She currently serves as Director, Operational Services where she is driving and developing innovative approaches to assess competence and improve faculty operations.
Ms. Jungbauer began her WGU career in 2011, as a part-time Evaluation Faculty in the Business College (MBA-HCM), bringing a wealth of career experience in healthcare and business management. From there, she transitioned to the WGU College of Health as the Evaluation Manager for the growing UG/Grad Nursing Evaluation teams, supporting a season of unprecedented growth in the WGU College of Health Professions. Currently, Ms. Jungbauer is supporting severalinnovative student experience programs in the Student Support Services department, to ensure barriers to student success are identified and removed, including managing the WGU Environmental Barriers Program, which supports students during natural disasters and other events. Ms. Jungbauer also is managing the stage of development of the Universitie's Excellence Award Program, with the vision to accurately and consistently recognize excellence in student work across all programs.
Amy is a former educator teaching special education and regular education at the elementary, high school and collegiate levels for a combination of 19 years . Amy came to WGU in March of 2015 as a part-time employee evaluating student papers in the Teacher's College before joining the Assessment Security and Authenticity team full-time in Fall 2015. Working for WGU is extremely rewarding; knowing that you are part of the incredible WGU experience and help protect the integrity of the WGU degree is exciting each and every day.

Extended Abstract

Guardian Ninjas of Student Success & Integrity

Please join us for an entertaining session that will provide insight on how to promote student learning, effective communication, assessment security and most importantly integrity.  In the news, “Operation Varsity Blues” has focused on Contract Cheating, and this session will support you with learning about innovative technology tools and how to be proactive in maximizing student learning and success.  While “Operation Varsity Blues” is about famous people, the papermills have become pervasive offering “tutoring” services that target students as early as sixth grade.  As an online higher education institution that has had the resources to promote integrity, combat predatory papermill practices and support student learning.  We want the opportunity to share and collaborate with you. 

The session will be interactive with pre-check surveys completed prior to a panel member discussing each topic.  Here is a sample of some of the questions.

  • What is done to promote academic integrity at your institution?  An originality report will be displayed, and everyone will be asked to decipher any evidence of collusion.  Hint:  please keep in mind students can be creative.
  • How many of you have done a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of an assessment question at your institution?  This is a legal takedown of the institution’s copyrighted material.  There will be a quick overview of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act process.
  • What are the biggest challenges regarding test taking?  Do you view the process as being fair and consistent?
  • How are students notified about changes at your university?  Does this method work well?

The institution has over 110,000 submissions a month and logged over 2.5 million live proctoring sessions since its inception.  Due to the size and innovative approach there are specialized cross-functional teams that implement a multi-pronged approach to partner with students.  During the panel discussion, a representative from each team will give you an inside look into the following innovative tools and functions on their teams.

  • The Academic Authenticity team takes a proactive approach with legal involvement to protect students, student originality checks, investigations, training, student orientation, student and faculty seminars, and expedited student outreach.  The Web Patrol team, and the crawler are online reviewing for any postings of our copyrighted materials.  There are over 35,000 assessment questions and 100 sites crawled regularly, and takedowns are enforced regularly.
  • The Vendor team is heavily involved with the innovating the online-proctored exam experience.  Some of these innovations include the award winning Take a Break feature, online-proctored exam weekly collaboration, secret shopping and quality assurance.
  • The Assessment & Evaluation Support team provides quick turnaround time for all 115,000 students.  They use an alert system including an online megaphone and other tools to provide helpful just in time communication with students.  Additionally, they oversee The Student Handbook, which is a dynamic resource that is searchable and supports student learning.

With this team effort a holistic approach is implemented with an emphasis on developing and teaching a culture of academic integrity.  This message is relayed at all different levels, and it starts in Orientation and is present in each Course of Study (Syllabus). An agreement to the Academic Authenticity policy is required before submitting a paper or other type of performance assessment.  There is regular faculty support that provides students with individual calls at least once a week.  The effort made is ongoing, and the university is using just in time resources to assist students proactively.

There are clear boundaries in place that support students by eliminating many temptations that may lead to circumventing the system.  All exams are taken with a live online proctor and an additional camera is used to ensure that Academic Authenticity policies are followed. Some of the assessments are algorithmic, and the psychometricians alert the faculty members with any unusual assessment patterns.  Multiple attempts are allotted for all assessments, and this tends to lower the stress level and the potential to violate policies as well.

We are interested in collaborating with other institutions to support student learning by taking a proactive approach against third party violators as well as educating faculty and students about the importance of academic authenticity.