While college professors expressed significant concerns over academic integrity in online courses at the onsite of the COVID-19 pandemic, those concerns have dropped as distance learning has expanded and professors have become more comfortable with the teaching modality.
According to a new survey from education services company Wiley, in 2020 a majority of professors – 62 percent – said they felt students were significantly more likely to cheat in an online course than in an in-person course. However, this figure dropped to only 27 percent in 2021. The percentage of instructors who were neutral on this issue rose to 20 percent, compared to five percent in 2020.
“Many college instructors worried about problems with academic integrity when courses shifted to online instruction early in the pandemic,” said Jason Jordan, Wiley’s senior vice president of digital education. “Our findings, however, suggest those concerns were greatly allayed as instructors gained more experience with remote coursework.”
In a press release, Wiley said that while instructors still express some concern about academic integrity in online courses, the survey’s findings suggest that those fears were not seen when actually teaching online courses. In fact, the survey found that the percentage of instructors who said they caught students cheating was only slightly higher among those teaching online and hybrid courses than those teaching in-person classes.
To address academic integrity concerns, professors said they’ve taken a variety of steps during distance learning, including using more open-ended questions, creating question pools, giving more project-based assignments, assigning more essays, and raising awareness about cheating and its negative consequences.
During the survey, Wiley also questioned college students for their thoughts on academic integrity during distance learning. The majority of student respondents believe it is easier to cheat online than in person; however, Wiley pointed out that does not mean they actually are cheating. The majority – 52 percent – said they are no more or less likely to cheat in an online course, while only 28 percent said they are more likely to cheat online.
Students are split on whether they find it easier to cheat now compared to before the pandemic. Half – 51 percent – said it is easier to cheat now, but 35 percent said it’s the same, and 14 percent said it’s harder to cheat now.
In terms of factors that discourage cheating, students said they are less likely to cheat if they are likely to get caught, if proctoring software is used, if getting caught would lower their grade, and if the instructor talks about the consequences of getting caught cheating at the beginning of the course.