Academic Integrity and Canvas Exams

Though cheating is certainly not unique to the online environment, many instructors have  reasonable concerns about opportunities for students to cheat online. These concerns may include:

  • inappropriate access to resources when completing an online assessment
  • copying answers or text found online
  • sharing answers with other students
  • contracting with a third party to complete online classwork

There are many approaches to decreasing the likelihood or ability for students to cheat in the online environment.

Course Redesign: Consider combining or replacing objective tests with other methods of assessment, such as projects, collaborative work, writing assignments, and personal reflections. Multiple choice and essay questions requiring application of skills and knowledge rather than simple factual recall are harder to cheat on. Consider designing tests as open note/open resource so that you do not get caught in an “arms race” with students. Consider requiring students to turn in drafts of projects and written work (for feedback from instructor and/or peers) well in advance of a final due date. Alter assignments and tests from semester to semester. Consider including more formative assessments and activities, and making high-stakes objective assessment a smaller portion of the overall course grade.

Proctoring: For objective assessments critical to the learning outcomes for an online course, consider using the MiraCosta Proctoring Center. For students at a distance, the Proctoring Center can help to establish proctoring in other locations. You may also consider the use of an online proctoring technology; Proctorio is available to MiraCosta faculty for this purpose.

Code of Conduct and Instructor Leadership: Discuss with students the reasons why academic integrity is important. Emphasize the benefits (and pleasures!) of truly engaging with course material and learning, rather than focusing on grades. Have students sign or even jointly develop a statement summarizing the expectations and requirements for academic honesty. Include a question on exams that has students agree to the code of conduct and/or that has students indicate that they have completed the exam on their own without using prohibited resources.

Making Canvas Exams More Secure

When conducting tests through Canvas, the following methods can further reduce the risk of cheating. Note that as of fall 2018, Canvas has two different tools for conducting tests – Quizzes (the original) and Quizzes.Next. Quizzes.Next is still being developed; at this time it has both advantages and limitations (view a comparison and/or a Quizzes.Next FAQ) compared to the original Quizzes tool, but it is expected to eventually fully replace Quizzes. Canvas guides for both Quizzes and Quizzes.Next are given for each item below as applicable.

  • Availability Window – Restrict the availability of the test to a specific date/time range. Quizzes | Quizzes.Next
  • Time Limits – Limit the time a student can spend on a test once they start it. Quizzes | Quizzes.Next
  • Disallow Multiple Attempts – Multiple attempts is a great option for a “mastery” quiz where you want students to retake it until they achieve a certain level of proficiency; this isn’t typical of a summative, high-stakes assessment. Quizzes | Quizzes.Next
  • Delay Per-Question Feedback (Quizzes only) – Providing students feedback on each question can help them learn; delaying the availability of this feedback until after the test availability window is over can help ensure the integrity of the exam. Quizzes [As of fall 2018, if feedback is built into a Quizzes.Next assessment, it is provided to students immediately and cannot be delayed.]
  • Answer Randomization – Answers to multiple choice questions can be randomized/shuffled so they are presented differently for different students. (Note: In Quizzes this is one setting for the entire quiz; in Quizzes.Next this is a per-question setting.) Quizzes | Quizzes.Next
  • Present Questions One at a Time – This can make it more difficult for students to “collaborate” if questions are also randomized. An additional option can prevent students from going back to previous questions, which can further strengthen the integrity of the exam, but can also frustrate students who legitimately realize they made a mistake on a previous question and wish to correct it. Quizzes | Quizzes.Next
  • Shuffle Questions (Quizzes.Next only) – This will present the quiz questions to students in random order. Quizzes.Next
  • Question Randomization with a Question Group/Item Bank – Drawing questions randomly from a pool (or pools) can make it even more difficult for students to productively share questions during an exam. Keep in mind that if your pool contains more questions than the number of questions you are drawing from the pool to go into the exam, you need to be careful about maintaining consistency of the questions within the pool (both in terms of outcomes measured and difficulty of the questions). Quizzes | Quizzes.Next
  • Calculated (Formula) Questions – Formula questions can include a range of values for one term/variable. Thus, the same question will have unique answers across different quizzes, but the question can still be auto-graded. Quizzes | Quizzes.Next
  • Require Presentation of ID – if you are not using a physical proctoring center, but you would like students to demonstrate that the person taking the test is the person enrolled in your class, one suggestion is to have students record a brief video holding a picture ID next to their face. If you use Proctorio, this step can automatically be included when enabling video proctoring; if you don’t, you could add an Essay question that directs students to access their webcam through the Rich Content Editor and record this. Of course, this requires students to have a webcam (and still wouldn’t prevent the student from doing this, then having someone else complete the rest of the exam). Quizzes | Quizzes.Next
  • Restrict Computer Activity During Exam – Technology such as Proctorio enables faculty to require that student’s computer and browser are “locked down” during an exam, preventing students from opening other browser windows or applications, taking screen captures, etc. This requires specific technology on the student computer. Note that Proctorio as of fall 2018 works only with Canvas Quizzes, not Quizzes.Next.