With a student population of over 250 million, India's education system, which was previously based on traditional techniques, has found the transition to an online class format rather difficult.

Face-to-face classroom settings enable educators to observe students physically and may aid in quicker evaluation of levels of understanding during discussions. In contrast, online classrooms require teachers to take extra steps to ensure a fair and inclusive assessment environment. By adopting an inclusive assessment strategy, educators have an opportunity to gather valuable information, help improve teaching, and enhance the efficacy of the curriculum, regardless of the platform or format. Educator effectiveness and student learning will eventually rely upon the quality and integrity of assessment design and delivery.

Remote learning and the challenges of misconduct

Education institutions are liable for safeguarding assessment arrangements against scholarly misconduct, while ensuring that students presenting their work in challenging circumstances are treated fairly. They also need to consider the number of activities assigned to students and ensure that they have sufficient opportunity to create their best work. Sometimes, to compensate for the lack of in-person interaction, educators tend to give more written work and performance tasks, which can overwhelm students who may then resort to shortcuts.

This can potentially lead to students resorting to questionable means such as using cheat sheets, plagiarism, contract cheating and impersonation. They can also resort to different types of misconduct such as using translation engines and text spinners to bypass integrity tools, as well as AI text generators and computational applications to complete exams. To assist with academic integrity in assessments, educators may integrate the following steps:

Create different variants of the test by rephrasing and modifying question arrangements to prevent student collusion. Educators can use grading software with built-in answer grouping and learning analytics features, which can help identify meaningful patterns in exam responses to support marking and evaluation.

Incorporate ‘metacognition’ strategies for relevant assessments that encourage students to show their work or explain their thought process, which also supports their creative and critical thinking skills.

Apply assessment security measures such as setting a completion time frame for students aligned with the school’s assessment policies and academic calendar. Educators can also use tools such as browser lockdowns and test trackers to manage the test environment against prohibited materials or external help.

Provide regular formative feedback and support to encourage critical thinking and uphold students’ originality in assignments

Leverage advanced integrity tools to check not only for text and code similarities, but identify deliberate text manipulations designed to bypass plagiarism checkers, and detect the signs of contract cheating.

(This is a slightly modified version of an article originally published in The Hindu. The original article can be found at https://www.thehindu.com/education/how-teachers-can-ensure-academic-integrity-in-assessments-in-an-online-learning-environment/article36997589.ece)