Evidence-Based Approaches to Promoting Academic Honesty

Academic honesty has always been a concern in higher education, but the proliferation of technology has changed the scope and nature of the problem. Students have access to more electronic means to cheat, including AI-generated papers and websites that provide access to test bank questions and answers. Meanwhile, professors can deploy competing technologies designed to search automatically for plagiarized content, lock down browsers during exams, or remotely proctor test-taking.

It should come as no surprise that there are ethical concerns about both academic dishonesty itself and the privacy and intellectual property issues raised by technologies intended to detect or prevent it. In fact, one Canadian professor recently taught an academic course on cheating, and he is a co-investigator on a large-scale study of college student motivations to pay others to do their work.

The SoTL literature on this topic often lags behind the technological advances, but there are some recent studies instructors may find helpful. Duncan and Joyner (2022) surveyed students and TAs about digital proctoring, and although their sample was not representative, their resulting article is definitely worth a read. They provide a nice overview of costs of benefits of the practice, and they also effectively summarize the literature on alternative assessment strategies faculty can employ. Another recent addition to the body of knowledge on academic honesty is a study of six relatively low-tech and brief methods to reduce cheating, such as allowing students to withdraw assignments. Again, there are some methodological issues with the research, but instructors may find the techniques and review of past research on them illuminating.

The issue of academic integrity is complex, multi-faceted, and rapidly evolving given its intersection with emerging technology. Additional examples of relevant SoTL research on the topic are included below. CATL will update this list as we are able. Feel free to contact us with suggested resources as well.

Additional Resources