Academic Integrity: Physical, Virtual and/or Universal Design for Learning Strategies?

Concurrent Session 8

Brief Abstract

A research review on whether students cheat more online, and discussion of deterrents including virtual and physical test proctoring, and universal design instructional strategies


Kurt Daw is the past President of the Association for Theatre in Higher Eduction, and a former dean of the arts at SF State and the State University of New York at New Paltz. He was the founder of the Department of Theater at Kennesaw State University. He is the author of Acting: Thought into Action and Acting Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, as well as a wide range of other short works on acting and performing. He has spoken widely as a keynoter, presenter and panelist. He is currently working on a new digital edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Dr. Wilson is the Chair of San Francisco State University Academic Senate's Online Education Committee and serves as a faculty fellow for San Francisco State University's online quality control program, Quality Online Learning and Teaching (QOLT). He is also the primary architect of and a faculty for an innovative multi-campus collaborative graduate program which primarily uses a synchronous online format.
Jonathan H. X. Lee, PhD, is an associate professor of Asian American studies who specializes in Southeast Asian and Sino-Southeast Asian American studies at San Francisco State University. He received his doctorate in religious studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2009. He is the founder and program cochair of the Asian American Religious Studies section for the American Academy of Religion, Western Region (AAR/WR) conference. His work has been published in Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice; Nidan: International Journal for the Study of Hinduism; Chinese America: History & Perspectives—The Journal of the Chinese Historical Society of America; Empty Vessel: The Journal of the Daoist Arts; Spotlight on Teaching/American Academy of Religion; Asia Pacific Perspectives; Pacific World: Journal of the Institute of Buddhist Studies; JATI: Journal of Southeast Asian Studies; Amerasia Journal; and other journals and anthologies, both nationally and internationally. His published works include ABC-CLIO’s Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore and Folklife (2011); Encyclopedia of Asian American Religious Cultures (2015); History of Asian Americans: Exploring Diverse Roots (2015); and Chinese Americans: History and Culture of a People (2016). In addition, he is author of Cambodian American Experiences: Histories, Communities, Cultures, and Identities (2010, reprint 2015); Asian American Identities and Practices: Folkloric Expressions in Everyday Life (2014); The Age of Asian Migration: Continuity, Diversity, and Susceptibility, volume 1 (2014); and Southeast Asian Diaspora in the United States: Memories and Visions, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (2015). He has published extensively on Chinese, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Chinese-Southeast Asian, and Asian American histories, folklore, cultures, and religions. Currently, Lee serves as editor-in-chief of Chinese America: History & Perspectives, a peer-review journal published by the Chinese Historical Society of America.
Dr. Avani completed his Educational Psychology in 1985 from Michigan State University. Dr. Avani holds four K-12 teaching credentials. Dr. Avani has been a high school teacher, a community college instructor, and an educational consultant with the Michigan Department of Education and for the USAID - USA Aide For International Development. Dr. Avani was a Professor at Lehman College/CUNY from 1986-2002. Currently, Dr. Avani is a Professor of Educational Psychology, in the Department of Secondary Education, at San Francisco State. Dr. Avani is past President of the International Mentoring Association (2004-2007). Dr. Avani is on the Executive Board of the SFSU Chapter of the California Faculty Association (CFA) and is also an elected member on the National Council of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

Extended Abstract

Overview: This Educational Session presents research on whether students are more inclined to exhibit dishonest behaviors in online environments compared to face-to-face environments, and whether students who exhibit dishonest behaviors are more likely to enroll in online courses. Ultimately, the research shows that, contrary to popular opinion, students in online courses do not practice dishonest behaviors more than students in face-to-face courses so online learning should not be singled out as a magnet for dishonest behavior. Further, this presentation shares a range of innovative strategies that promote academic integrity across all course instruction modalities, including instructional design strategies, in-person proctoring, and virtual proctoring. Advantages and disadvantages of each, alongside recommendations on how to implement these strategies, are presented. A panel of faculty members shares real-life, multimedia examples of these implementations in their own courses. Ultimately, a case is made that a variety of innovative instructional strategies, aligned with the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) that encourage multiple modes of representation, engagement and expression not only promote academic integrity but also improve the learning experience for the student.

Academic Integrity: Like any institution of higher education committed to student success, SF State is equally committed to ensuring academic integrity, which requires students exercise ethical judgment when faced with the demands of a challenging academic environment. With increased access to the Internet and other technologies, there is a common assumption that students are more tempted to cheat in online courses, compared to face-to-face courses. Contrary to public opinion, however, research in this area does not seem to support this bias. Watson and Sottiles (2005) found no significant difference in students' self-reported dishonest behaviors in online compared to face-to-face courses. In these environments, 32.7% of online students, versus 32.1% of face-to-face students, admitted to having cheated at some point in their academic careers. Beck (2014) investigated whether students in online courses are more likely to engage in academic dishonesty and whether academically dishonest students are more likely to enroll in online courses, and found that, "based on the results in this study, students in online courses, with unmonitored testing, are no more likely to cheat on an examination than students in hybrid and F2F courses using monitored testing, nor are students with low GPAs more likely to enroll in online courses." Given SF State's commitment to academic integrity across all modes of course instruction, and considering there has not been any proven difference in students' inclination to exhibit dishonest behaviors per instructional mode, we have promoted a range of academic integrity options that can be categorized into three areas: Instructional design using UDL approaches, In-person Proctoring, and Virtual Proctoring.

UDL Approaches: Research has shown that faculty can mitigate cheating and foster positive behaviors by applying thoughtful course design techniques. Research in UDL has shown that all students, not just students with disabilities, perform better when provided a variety of personally meaningful assignment options that align with their strengths and preferred learning styles to represent their knowledge. A comprehensive overview of instructional design strategies that promote academic integrity in online education encourages faculty to use a variety of assessment strategies (WCET et al., 2009). These include quizzes, short and long papers, and open book tests with questions that require the application of a theory or concept; assignments that require written work and problem solving; and rubrics for every assignment at the beginning of a course so students understand how they will be graded.

In-person Proctoring: Many online teaching faculty ensure academic integrity by directing students to take in-person proctored exams at campus and commercial testing centers, using registered student personal response devices (clickers) for in class assessments, reserving computer labs during testing periods, and using paper-based exams in large class settings.

Virtual Proctoring: With the increased popularity of online courses, more faculty are looking for virtual options to ensure academic integrity. SF State is currently reviewing three virtual proctoring systems, which include ProctorU, an online proctoring service in which a live proctor verifies the student's identity and provides real-time proctoring for an hourly fee, Proctorio, an automated non-proctored solution that locks down the student browser and records the student's screen, video and audio, flagging suspicious behavior for future review, and Respondus Lockdown Browser and Monitor, an automated non-proctored solution that integrates into the learning management system, that locks down the student's computer and records the student's screen, video and audio. SF State is currently assessing these three virtual proctoring options for our campus, based on affordability and campus need, and has not yet officially adopted any one solution. Cost and alignment with SF State's commitment to universal access and student success will be key factors motivating any adoption decision.

Whereas in-person and virtual proctoring solutions serve to reassure faculty and address administrative concerns about the potential for academic dishonesty in the assessment of online learning, the disproportionately high cost of these services for both the students and the university, coupled with the potential anxiety this may cause for the students, raises the need to have critical conversations on campus about a universal strategy for academic integrity and student success. A campus-wide investment in innovative universal instructional design strategies that personalize the learning experience for students may produce more ethical and tangible results for the university and its students than an investment in high-cost proctoring systems that attempt to replicate imperfect in-person academic integrity systems and may end up unintentionally perpetuating academic dishonesty.

ïBeck, V. (2014). Testing a model to predict online cheatingóMuch ado about nothing. Active Learning in Higher Education 15 (1), 65-75.
ïWatson, G., & Sottile, J. (2010). Cheating in the digital age: Do students cheat more in online courses? Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 23(1). Retrieved November 30, 2015, from
ïWCET, UT TeleCampus, and the Instructional Technology Council (2009). Best Practice Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity in Online Education, v. 2.0. Retrieved November 30, 2015, from: