Academic Honesty

Protecting the academic integrity of your course.

Academic honesty in education has been a constant battle since the earliest of schooling. In the search engine friendly age in which students are now learning, how do educators protect the integrity of the course as well as make sure that students are gleaning the information required for true comprehension? Moreover, how does an online instructor know their students' submissions are the product of attained knowledge and not googled answers? The good fight may never be fully won, but there are some practices and steps that can be implemented to give honest students the best chance as staying honest.

Online educators don't have the luxury of implementing the same prevention strategies as a brick and mortar school!

Best Prevention Practices

While completely eliminating academic dishonesty might be difficult, there are some preventative measures the instructor can take to limit opportunities.

  1. Educate students what is academic honesty and how to make sure they are compliant. Most students have no intention on being blatantly dishonest, and might not ever choose dishonesty if properly given expectations and consequences. This can occur easily with a News Announcement or email early in the semester.
  2. Design assignments and questions that can not be found easily in a search engine. While students on many assignments will have to recall knowledge that can be found easily in Google, designing assignments that require higher thinking skills (think Bloom's taxonomy) will be harder to replicate. Design questions around terms such as apply, analyze, and evaluate.
  3. Watch the "language" of the student. Many students write and answer questions in their daily vernacular. If on an assignment a student begins to sound like an Ivy league professor, you might have a problem.
  4. Utilize Turn It In. This is easily enabled on assignments and keeps you from having to play the role of detective. Turn It In does a good job of analyzing wording and sentence structure to determine whether or not something was copy and pasted from the internet, and also provides the source if an item is determined to be mined from the internet.

Click here for video on enabling Turn It In.

Steps If You Suspect Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty manifests itself in different ways and each situation is unique. As the human element to the course, it will be your job to discern each situation and determine appropriate consequences. Below is an example of some steps could be taken should it be determined that a student has cheated on an assignment.

  • Give the assignment a zero and then leave detailed feedback on how the student earned the zero. Make sure to give enough information that the zero can not be disputed. Remind them to read the academic honesty policy in the student handbook, and let them know that the repercussions for future incidents will be the inclusion of parents, facilitators, and GAVS admin. Usually the embarrassment of being caught, coupled with the threat of future punishment for more incidents, is enough to curb any further cheating.
  • Log the incident in the communication log with a copy of the feedback left for the student and any other communication that has occurred. Include the name of the assignment for quick reference later if needed. Use discretion and make sure to limit the number of viewers that can read that entry. While it might be pertinent for other instructors to read that feedback in case cheating is occurring across courses, it also important to not permanently tarnish the reputation of the student.
  • If academic honesty issues with the same student pop up again in your course, leave the feedback again, but this time email the student and include the parent, facilitator, and ILT just to keep them in the loop. If you hear nothing from the parent or facilitator, then a phone call might be necessary. Once parents are involved, it should eliminate all future incidences. However...
  • If it happens a third time, then give the zero with relevant feedback and email/call all stakeholders again, but also include student support so that they can get with the local school and find out about the school's honesty policy and discipline. Then you will need to confer with your ILT and ASI about how GAVS is going to want to handle the situation. More drastic repercussions than giving zeroes are listed as possible consequences in the student handbook, but GAVS admin will have to be in charge of how those might be required or implemented.

Embed the videos below for a handy news announcement on academic integrity:

Academic Dishonesty

GAVS Official Policy on Academic Honesty (begins on pg. 33 of Teacher Handbook)


There are times when students choose to be dishonest in their academics and two common incidents are plagiarism and cheating.

To deter students from academic dishonesty and /or plagiarism, please post the Student Code of Conduct in your syllabus, Welcome Announcement, and Welcome Chat. The Code of Conduct is in the Student Handbook and Student Orientation Course. It is a good idea to integrate reminders in your course announcements regarding plagiarism and cheating. Students and a parent/guardian should also submit a signed copy of the Student/Parent Handbook and Syllabus Acknowledgement form in the dropbox before beginning your course.

Student Code of Conduct

Students in a "virtual building" need to follow certain rules. As a Georgia Virtual School student, you must conduct yourself with the highest standards of honesty.

Any attempt to cheat, plagiarize, falsify information, or receive credit for work you did not do will be considered dishonest behavior and will be dealt with accordingly by the instructor, facilitator, and the Georgia Virtual School Program administration. Unless your teacher or the specific assessment directions inform you of exceptions, all work must be original and entirely the student's own work without any outside help. While taking assessments or completing written assignments, students will not confer, either in person or through electronic communication, with other students, parents, family members, facilitators, tutors or acquaintances. While taking assessments or completing written assignments, students may not use any textbooks, references, or other materials/outside sources (printed or electronic) unless your teacher or the specific assessment directions inform you of exceptions. Assignments that require documentation and/or references must adhere to guidelines presented by the teacher. When in doubt, clarify with your teacher before beginning an assignment or submitting it.

When content disputes arise in the course, the facilitator should not interfere with the teacher-student relationship concerning content interpretation. Sometimes this presents teachable moments and interfering with this process hinders learning. With regards to content interpretation disputes, the teacher has the final authority on content interpretation.

The following are examples of some, but not all, acts that are considered dishonest behavior:

· Plagiarism (representing another person's ideas, words, expressions, or data in writing or presentation without properly acknowledging the source).

· Submitting work through the use of another person's password/login is considered dishonest behavior. Student logins/passwords are confidential information that should not be shared with others. Any assignments, work, or projects posted while using another student's login will be considered plagiarism. Allowing another person, even a family member, to use your login and submit work on your behalf is also considered to be dishonest behavior.

· Working on a lab report with one or more students, sharing documents related to a lab report, or submitting the same lab report which was submitted by another student you worked with to perform the lab experiments in your school or home. NOTE: While it is acceptable for students to work together in small groups while performing lab experiments and collecting data, the final lab report that is submitted for graded credit should be each student’s independent work.

· Cheating (intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized material, assistance, or study aids in any academic work). The use of online translators or any other type of assistance on graded assignments i.e. dropbox assignments, quizzes, and tests is considered cheating, UNLESS your teacher or the specific assessment directions inform you of exceptions. Cheating includes copying another student's work and submitting it as your own or sharing your work with another student. Be sure to get your teacher's permission before working with a classmate on an assignment.

· Performing work or taking an examination for another student.

· Submitting your own work from another course or previous semester and presenting it as work that was completed for the current course.

· Falsification and/or misrepresentation of data to include submitting documents, records, or assessments that is falsified, invented, or contains fictitious data, results, or sources.

Computer crimes (damaging computer programs, hacking, constructing viruses, introducing viruses into a system, copying programs, misuse of pager or email, etc.) Accessing, sending, creating or posting material or communication that is:

· Damaging;

· Abusive;

· Obscene, lewd, profane, offensive, indecent, sexually explicit, or pornographic;

· Threatening or demeaning to another person; or

· Harassing and/or bullying.

Academic dishonesty and the sending, creating, or posting of any inappropriate material will result in one or more of the following actions:

· Loss of grade points

· Disciplinary action via local school in accordance with local school or district policy

· Removal from the course

· Failure to receive credit for the course

· Loss of eligibility to take future Georgia Virtual School courses.

Academic honesty is very important to your success as an online learner.

- Created by Bobby Walker