New era of online teaching requires changes in old academic integrity policies

Penn+State+%7C+Flickr

Penn State | Flickr

The Editorial Board

The Zoom-university time period requires not only a shift in teaching techniques but also new strategies to ensure academic integrity. Even though the academic integrity responsibilities are largely on the students, there are ways that professors can contribute to a fairer testing environment.

Since the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close in March 2020, academic integrity became a part of the discussion for CUNY students and professors.

In June, The New York Post reported a cheating scandal, uncovered by the Baruch College’s Math Department. The article focused on the professors’ perspective on how the success rates increased suspiciously once online examinations started and how professors found their exam questions posted online.

Motivated by the professors’ concerns, CUNY tried to implement the online monitoring platform Proctorio, through its partnership with McGraw Hill Publishing, to combat academic dishonesty starting in the fall semester.

However, there was not a formal university-wide implementation of the software due to privacy concerns and petitions from the CUNY students.

Some professors have already adopted new exam methods where students are able to use course materials and readings but insightful analysis and citing sources are necessary to get a passing grade. Open-ended questions and changing the wording of certain questions to make it harder to find answers online are also other ways to make cheating more challenging.

However, some professors still use textbook questions that are available online on websites like Chegg and Quizlet. Reusing these questions in an online environment makes it unfair for students who rely on their own knowledge to complete exams when other students are able to find answers to most of the exam questions with a Google search.

Overall, academic integrity is the students’ responsibility, but, in a new era of online teaching, professors should carry some of the burden to ensure that cheating does not occur.

It is a better alternative to encourage professors to make changes in their teaching and testing policies than to implement the use of a software that raises bigger concerns for students’ privacy.