Teaching and Learning and Academic Integrity

Supporting Academic Integrity 

Academic integrity is a foundational consideration in teaching and learning as it supports the research and the educational culture of higher education institutions. Proactive support of academic integrity through pedagogical strategies and building a culture of academic integrity in the course is essential.   

Course Culture and Policy 

Culture and Community of Integrity 

Promoting a culture of academic integrity from the beginning of your course and explaining why adhering to the principles of academic integrity is important in your discipline will help set students up for success. Using specific examples from your field to demonstrate the importance of integrity can give students a tangible example to keep in mind as they conduct their course work. Work by Alt (2014) suggests that students with a more positive approach to their learning environment will approach academic integrity with a more just framework.  

Supporting a course culture and community of integrity can also mean reinforcing supports that are available at UTM for students in relation to academic integrity. Having links and reminders of the RGASC and UTM library as spaces that offer support in relation to academic integrity can help demonstrate the campus commitment to research and work done with integrity.  

The RGASC has an Academic Integrity module that can be added to your Quercus shell to support student awareness.  

Designing Courses with Workload in Mind  

When planning the activities and assessments for a course, considering student workload at semester pinch points, points in the semester when students tend to have many overlapping due dates, is important for supporting a culture of academic integrity. Patterns for weekly expectations (reflections, discussion posts, etc.) can help students plan for your course along with the others they are taking.  

Looking at your course design in a modular way can help students see expectations of the course and plan their workload accordingly each week. You can also indicate weeks or modules where you feel there will be more content or concepts to cover and clearly indicate the value for each assessment or activity. Try to align the weight of your assessments in your design to the level of effort and length of the assessment. The Educational Developers at the RGASC can support you in this process. There are also tools that can support this planning and workload. 

The Wake Forest University Workload Estimator 2.0 supports instructors in their course design to build awareness of time requirements for types of reading and assignments.  

UTSC also has an assignment calculator for students to help them understand the steps and time requirements for different types of assessments. Sharing this resource with students also demonstrates the culture of wellness and support for integrity of your course. 

Using UDL Principles to Support Flexibility 

Having flexibility in your course design that follows Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines will allow students to have choice in the way they complete assignments that align to course outcomes and assessment objectives and can include a multimodal component in certain contexts. Other flexibility in design can include different considerations for equitable assessment deadlines.  

Policy Statement on Syllabi or for Assignments 

The UTM Academic Integrity Unit has provided a statement for instructors to use in their syllabi to support academic integrity. There are also statements that instructors can use on Quercus so that the student must agree to the statement before they can submit their work. An example of the wording for this statement is: 

“In submitting this [quiz, exam or assignment], I confirm that my conduct during this [quiz, exam or assignment] adheres to the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters. I confirm that I did NOT act in such a way that would constitute cheating, misrepresentation, or unfairness, including but not limited to, using unauthorized aids and assistance, personating another person, and committing plagiarism.” 

Assessment Strategies to Support Academic Integrity 

Assessment design strategies that support a focus on transformative learning, rather than transmissive knowledge acquisition, also support academic integrity.  Transformative learning (Sutherland-Smith, 2008) is when students “transform information into knowledge through their own constructions of meaning.” These strategies for assessment can help frame assessment design to focus on meaningful learning that aligns with course learning outcomes, students’ experiences, and previous knowledge.  

Focus on Higher-Order Thinking 

Higher-level Blooms will assure a more pedagogically comprehensive exam and will support academic integrity (whether timed or take home/open book). This means having questions that ask students to: 

  • Apply the concepts from your course in different ways (calculations and formulas, word problems, case studies). Multiple-choice questions can also ask for application instead of recall. 
  • Analyze concepts from your course through a comparison of two scenarios, an essay, or by writing a short report. They could also graph or model multiple possibilities based on the question asked. 
  • Evaluate a scenario using course concepts. Ask students to predict the outcome of a scenario, defend a position using course concepts and resources, or justify an action using case study details and course components. 
  • Create a new artifact based on the concepts and principles from your course (storyboards, presentations, drawings) and can include authentic examples. 

Authentic and Alternative Assessments 

Alternative assessments strategies can incorporate the multiple means framing found in the UDL guidelines to provide students with multiple means to express their learning and engage with the concepts. Authentic assessments are designed to provide opportunities for students to connect their learning with their lived experiences or with meaningful examples within their discipline. The connection allows for more higher order thinking and critical application of content and themes.  

Formative Assessment and Feedback Opportunities 

Formative assessments and activities in the course can provide students and instructors with an opportunity to monitor progress and identify gaps that need to be reinforced. By having formative activities or no (or low grade) assessments in the course that scaffold to larger summative assessment pieces, students have the opportunity to practice, reflect, and revisit ideas. Providing feedback on these pieces will also help guide students to what they may need to review as the course progresses. As well, how questions are phrased, as either open or closed questions, are an important part of assessment design and can support a more transformational approach to answering the questions. 

Using Quercus Affordances Such as Timed Quizzes and Randomization 

UTM’s Instructional Technology and Library Services team can support your assessment design by highlighting the Quercus affordances that can be used such as randomizing questions, question banks for unique versioning, and time limits. Keep the pedagogical implications of your assessment design in mind. For example, restricting back navigation for questions online may run counter to some test and quiz taking strategies for students who usually read all the questions at the beginning of the test before starting to help manage their time.   

Having Clear Expectations 

Assessments and activities, including, tests and quizzes, with clear expectations can support the goals of the assessment and guide students in preparing their work or studying. For example, having an opportunity to go over and review a test or quiz in class in terms of what to expect,  and the types of questions also supports a culture of integrity and trust in the classroom.  


Alt, D. Assessing the connection between students’ justice experience and attitudes towards academic cheating in higher education new learning environments. Journal of Academic Ethics 12, 113–127 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-014-9202-6   

Copeland, A. (2017). The pros and cons of open and closed questions. Retrieved from https://www.interpnet.com/NAI/docs/CIT/Copeland-Questions.pdf  

Eaton, S. E., Crossman, K., & Edino, R. (2019). Academic integrity in Canada: An annotated bibliography. University of Calgary. http://dx.doi.org/10.11575/PRISM/36334

Munoz, A. and Mackay, J. (2019). An online testing design choice typology towards cheating threat minimization, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 16(3), 2019. https://ro.uow.edu.au/jutlp/vol16/iss3/5

Sutherland-Smith, W. (2008). Plagiarism, the Internet and student learning. New York: Routledge.

UTM Academic Integrity Website: https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/academic-integrity/facultystaff