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How to Preserve Academic Integrity in an Online Exam

Many professors in the Math, Science, and Engineering fields use McGraw Hill Connect® or ALEKS® as an online platform for reading and homework assignments. Some even use it for short quizzes. Using these platforms for midterm and final exams is not as common because as instructors, we are heavily concerned with academic integrity. Have you given students an exam where everybody got the same grade? Gee. I wonder how that happened. So how do we guarantee academic integrity if we can’t watch over the students? This requires a comprehensive strategy involving your online learning platform, learning management system, and online proctoring tools. 

1. Online learning platforms 

For online exams, select only those questions that have multiple numerical inputs and corresponding outputs. In Connect these questions are noted as algorithmic. The symbol for this type of question is the letter ‘a’ inside an orange background. Algorithmic questions have more than a dozen sets of numeric inputs, which yield a dozen sets of outputs. The odds of two students sitting together receiving the same inputs are small. Allow the students a window of 24 hours or less to perform the exam. Set your preferred exam time as a policy setting. Extra time for students with special needs can be entered ahead of time on the platform. 

2. LMS (Learning Management System) 

Ask students to prepare and upload a calculation worksheet to your LMS. Prepare a blank form with the question numbers and include a spot for student names and IDs. The worksheet should become available a few hours before the start time of the exam. Tell students to download and print it, then enter their written calculations for each question on the worksheet. Have them make a scan of the worksheet and upload it to the LMS after completing the exam. You can check that all answers entered on the online platform correlate to the worksheet. 

If you’re not in engineering, get creative with ways to utilize your LMS to ensure consistency and transparency.  

3. Proctoring Tools 

McGraw Hill uses Proctorio software for online proctoring services during exams, which allows you control with various settings. Proctorio creates a video recording of the student during the exam, controls access to websites, and disables printing, copying, and downloading of data. You can prevent students from taking screenshots and distributing them. Taking photos with a cell phone is also a no-no. The video will record this action.  

In conclusion, you have the tools to give online exams and keep students honest. Be deliberate and comprehensive for the best success.   

About the Author

Jay Mendelson has over 7 years of post-secondary teaching experience in mechanical and electrical engineering, preceded by 31 years of engineering experience in industry. He teaches undergraduate classes at SUNY Stony Brook and graduate classes at University of Colorado Boulder. He has developed a curriculum for courses on Brightspace, Canvas, Blackboard, and Coursera. He uses McGraw Hill Connect for some of his engineering courses, and helps faculty learn this platform in his role as a Digital Faculty Consultant.