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 ideas:

  • Consider including more formative assessments and activities, and making high-stakes objective assessment a smaller portion of the overall course grade.
  • Get to know your students to help them be more personally invested and to help you recognize individual student voices.
  • Integrate and encourage student use of institutional support resources such as tutoring as part of the learning process.
  • Design assignments that enable/require students to include unique, personally meaningful perspectives and details.
  • Consider combining or replacing objective tests with other methods of assessment, such as projects, collaborative work, writing assignments, and personal reflections.
  • Consider designing tests as open note/open resource so that you do not get caught in an “arms race” with students.
  • Multiple choice and essay questions requiring application of skills and knowledge rather than simple factual recall are harder to cheat on.
  • 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.
  • Include a variety of student-to-student interactions and group activities. For group work, ensure that assessment practices don’t allow non-contributing students to receive the same grade as other group members.
  • Alter assignments and tests from semester to semester.

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. [Note: during spring 2021, the Proctoring Center will have limited availability. Consider using Zoom to proctor objective online assessments yourself.]

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. You might also refer to MiraCosta’s

  • Standards of Student Conduct, AP 5500
    Students must refrain from engaging in … Cheating, plagiarizing, or engaging in other academic dishonesty
  • Academic Integrity policy, BP 5505
    MiraCosta College highly values academic integrity. At the core, this means an honest representation of one’s own work. MiraCosta College also promotes the approach that education is best accomplished as a cooperative, collaborative enterprise in which students are encouraged to work with and learn from each other. The line between academic integrity and collaborative education is not always easy to define and may vary from one discipline to the next and from one instructor to the next. Many aspects of cheating and plagiarism are universally recognized, while others are subject to debate. This policy provides some broad, general guidelines and allows instructors to be more restrictive according to their preferences and practices. Examples of academic dishonesty include but are not limited to:
    A. Cheating: Copying from another student or using unauthorized aids or persons during an examination.
    B. Plagiarizing: Copying someone else’s work or ideas and misrepresenting them as one’s own.
    C. Falsification: Making up fictitious information and presenting it as factual or altering records for the purpose of misrepresentation.
    D. Facilitation: Helping another student to cheat, plagiarize, or falsify.

You might 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 2020, Canvas has two different tools for conducting tests – Quizzes (the original) and New Quizzes. New Quizzes is still being developed; at this time it has both advantages and limitations (view a comparison and/or a New Quizzes FAQ) compared to the original Quizzes tool, but it is expected to eventually fully replace the original Quizzes. Canvas guides for both Quizzes and New Quizzes are given for each item below as applicable.

  • Availability Window – Restrict the availability of the test to a specific date/time range. Quizzes | New Quizzes
  • Time Limits – Limit the time a student can spend on a test once they start it. Quizzes | New Quizzes
  • 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 | New Quizzes
  • 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 spring 2020, if feedback is built into a New Quizzes 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 New Quizzes this is a per-question setting.) Quizzes | New Quizzes
  • 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 | New Quizzes
  • Shuffle Questions (New Quizzes only) – This will present the quiz questions to students in random order. New Quizzes
  • 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 | New Quizzes
  • 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 | New Quizzes
  • 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 | New Quizzes
  • 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 works only with Canvas Quizzes, not New Quizzes.

Canvas Student View vs MCC’s Sample Student Account

This site explains the difference between the Canvas student view tool and MiraCosta College’s sample student account.

Canvas Student ViewStudent View

You can view a course the same way that your students view your course without logging out of your instructor account. Enabling Student View creates a ‘Test Student’ in your course. You can activate Student View in your Course Settings.

View Canvas Student View Guide

To see the student’s perspective on Canvas, use Student View to view the course, post and reply to discussions, submit assignments, view grades, view people, view pages, view the syllabus, view quizzes, view the calendar, and view the scheduler.

What Does Not Work in Canvas Student View

Attendance, conferences, conversations, collaborations, differentiated assignments, groups, LTI tools such as Pronto and Turnitin, peer reviews, and profiles do not work for the Test Student. Also, you will see only what you, as the instructor, allow your students to see.

Sample Student Account

At MiraCosta College all faculty have a separate sample student user added to their Canvas course. This is a separate account from your primary MCC faculty login account. The sample student account needs to be reset two times a year at the same time your employee password is reset.

With the sample student account all course content and tools that you have enabled for your students will work. This includes taking attendance, conferences, conversations, collaborations, differentiated assignments, groups, Pronto, LTI tools, Turnitin assignments, and peer reviews.

Reminder: You must publish your course and you must publish the course content or tool within Canvas before you can access it with your sample student account. Your sample student account has the same course permissions as your enrolled SURF students.

Sample Credentials

Add -student to the end of your MCC faculty login account. This will be your sample student account.

Example Log On:   kturpin-student
Password: Contact the Employee Helpdesk at (760) 795-6850 for a password for first time users.

Substitute kturpin for your MCC faculty login and add -student

Password Reset

Considerations in Leaving Blackboard and Moodle

With the closure of Blackboard and Moodle (“legacy systems”) on June 30, 2018, faculty should consider their obligations and needs regarding the class content and student records that those systems have contained. Here are three primary considerations for faculty:

  1. Export all content from legacy systems to rebuild classes in Canvas if that is still needed.
  2. Access to grade records from legacy system classes in the event of grade challenges.
  3. Need to be able to resolve incompletes for classes that were run in a legacy system this spring.

Please review the following for information and instructions on downloading gradebooks, student work, and entire course archives from your:

See below for more details on the three considerations listed above, as well as one additional possible concern.

Rebuilding Legacy System Classes in Canvas

MiraCosta’s Canvas page for faculty includes all kinds of resources, information, and recommended training materials to help faculty learn Canvas, including information on transitioning from legacy systems to Canvas.

For simple classes where the course management system is used fairly minimally, transitioning to Canvas should be straightforward. For more complex classes, especially hybrid and online classes, faculty typically report that it is a significant investment of time to rebuild in Canvas, but one that is well worthwhile.

Some elements of classes may export from legacy systems and import into Canvas in a useful way. Other elements are best to copy separately and paste into Canvas or re-create altogether. The following resources may be especially useful in helping faculty with this process.

Reference material

Videos of MiraCosta workshops

Maintaining Grade Records in Case of Challenges

For access to grade records, it is each faculty member’s responsibility to download/export what they need from the legacy systems. Please refer to AP 4231 (Grade Changes) for details on the circumstances you need to be aware of.

Resolving Incompletes

With under 10% of our spring 2018 classes running in Blackboard or Moodle, and given the infrequency of this occurrence, this should be a very minor issue. But if it comes up, there are several possibilities for handling this, depending on the work that needs to be completed and how dependent on the course management system it may be:

  • For courses which the instructor has already rebuilt in Canvas and which will work for the student to complete work there, the faculty member can work with Karen Turpin to create a special copy/section of the Canvas course and enroll the student who needs to finish the incomplete.
  • For a Blackboard course that has elements that the student really needs to complete in Blackboard for consistency/coherency, the faculty member can work with Karen Turpin to restore the Blackboard course archive into the free online CourseSites version of Blackboard.
  • In some cases, it may be possible to resolve the incomplete without using a course management system at all. If the instructor has made copies of the content/assignments and grade records, the student work could potentially be done on paper or through digital copies of the course materials.

For advice and assistance with this should it become necessary, please contact Karen Turpin.

One Other Possibility: Audits

There is a fourth consideration that is more for the institution than for faculty: the possibility of outside agencies in the future conducting audits of past classes run in legacy systems.

This is a low-likelihood issue, yet one we do need to account for. There have been a handful of audits of online classes at California community colleges within the last few years; these are typically related to accessibility investigations – either prompted by an Office of Civil Rights complaint or through a random selection of the state auditor. There have also been audits during federal Department of Education investigations of compliance with financial aid regulations and distance education. In such cases, auditors likely would want to be able to view each class in its original form, in the legacy system in which it was offered.

Should such a situation arise, it is likely that MiraCosta would negotiate short-term access to Blackboard and/or Moodle systems as needed in order to meet the needs of the auditors, restoring archives that we have retained institutionally into those systems.

Countdown to Canvas: 10 weeks to go

To: All faculty

Blackboard and Moodle will no longer be options for instruction after the spring semester. The official end of our licenses providing access to Blackboard and Moodle is June 30. Please make sure you have extracted all content from all classes for rebuilding in Canvas by then.

This week the final 4-week online MiraCosta Introduction to Teaching with Canvas class begins. Learn more and sign up if you’re interested.
For those who have signed up, watch for an email later today or tomorrow on how to get started.

Next week I’ll start sending more detailed tips about moving classes into Canvas for those who still have that work ahead of them.

Jim Julius, Ed.D.
Faculty Director, Online Education

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