Giving students choice of assignment to improve academic integrity
Following on from my last post where I listed the factors that comprise academic integrity – the pressure, the opportunity to cheat and the rationalisation that students may have to cheat; I suggest that we can reduce opportunity and rationalisation by giving students choice with their assessment. You can start off simple by using something like the Moodle Choice tool to allow them to choose their topic. In the video below the wonderful Mary Cooch explains how the “choice” tool works.
As Mary expertly explains there are numerous options open to staff when using the choice tool. Let’s just imagine that you have a class of 30 students, you can give them 5 topics to choose from. You can limit the number of students that can choose each option and you make the results anonymous. This means that students immediately have a limited number of colleagues that they can copy from as they are doing different topics. Furthermore they have an opportunity to choose their preferred topic which should increase “student ownership” which is a great approach to reduce any rationalisation that students may have to cheat. As an added bonus for the lecturer, you don’t have to correct 30 essays all on the same topic.
Another element of choice that you provide to students which will help reduce rationalisation to cheat is to allow students to choose their mode of assessment i.e. some can write an essay, others can record a podcast or do a video. Just as much as the previous example this increases student ownership. If you decide to combine the two suggestions together you reduce the chance of plagiarism even further because even if students A and B have the same topic they may choose different modes of delivery therefore it is harder to copy off one another.
Just as a word of warning though – too much choice can be a bit overwhelming to students so be careful to not go to the extreme and offer too much choice. What other ways do you think you could offer choice to students to help reduce rationalisation and opportunity to cheat?