Academic Integrity and the Role of the Instructor

The University of Toronto is committed to the values of independent inquiry and to the free and open exchange of ideas. Visit U of T’s Academic Integrity website for further resources and the University’s Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters.

Academic Integrity is a Shared Experience

While the University of Toronto takes the position that it is the student’s responsibility to know the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters and understand what constitutes an academic offence, instructors have a role to play in educating their students about the principles of academic integrity, to direct them to the appropriate resources and supports, and to play a role in preventing AI cases. We recommend taking a student-centred and supportive approach while addressing the AI topic. We recommend clearly setting your expectations for students so that they understand their role in adhering to the Code. For courses in Quercus, every course shell includes a set of menu options on the right-hand side, including U of T information about Academic Integrity.

Please consult sample U of T Academic Integrity Statements (below) to include in your online quizzes and assignments.

  • Setting the tone is important, just as it is on the first day of a face-to-face course.
  • Students look for you to provide direction, provide feedback and encouragement, and guide them on their course journey.
  • Students arrive in their courses with differing AI experiences. Perhaps they are students who have not yet written an essay in their time at U of T or are international students whose previous educational experiences included different assessment procedures and processes. Each instructor has varied approaches to AI and students should be informed early in the course what these expectations entail.
  • Frequent, low-stakes assessment methods can be very helpful in addressing student stress and possible temptation to violate the AI Code.
  • Introduce AI early and often in your course.
  • Clearly convey that you are available to discuss AI at any time during the course.
  • Check with your Division for requirements on what to include in your course documents regarding AI (e.g., syllabus).
  • Guide your students through the AI section in your Quercus course and highlight key sections in the AI Code – use live or recorded formats.
  • Share definitions and examples of AI terms such as plagiarism, paraphrase, summarize, editing and proofreading for written assignments, and definitions/examples to illustrate what is considered cheating in collaborative work or in test/exam scenarios. For written assignments in particular, communicate with your class about the meaning of citations and why they are made. Allow students to ask clarification questions through online discussions. Find helpful resources on the U of T AI site.
  • Review the the University’s plagiarism detection tool conditions of use posted in all Quercus courses (right side menu). If you are using the University’s plagiarism detection tool, you must notify your students in your course syllabus.
  • Embed library and writing centre support in your Quercus course. Stress the importance of using these research and writing supports to build their confidence in these skills. Focus on the learning aspect.
  • Ensure you discuss AI with your Teaching Assistants and their role in educating and adhering to the Code in their tutorials, labs and grading processes. Explain and discuss with your TAs your course policies around violations of academic integrity.

Assignments and Evaluations

We recommend you consider ways that you can deter common AI occurrences in essay and research-paper assignments by the way they are designed. For example, you may choose to use the University’s plagiarism detection tool, a textual-similarity detection tool as an efficient way to identify common writing issues and plagiarism in course assignments. Or, you may reach out to your divisional educational technology contacts for discipline-specific detection tools.

  • Frequently share/discuss your course learning outcomes with your students.
  • Scaffold or build assignments so that students are working towards a final product for submission. This effective approach benefits the students’ writing and learning and also creates authentic conditions that are more likely to deter AI issues.
  • Check-in and communicate regularly with students during the assignment time period. This way, students will be less likely to seek out their peers for (mis)information.
  • Provide rubrics and grading criteria to ensure students know what is expected of them in the assessment, also reducing inappropriate or misguided peer-peer communication.
  • Anticipate the need for accommodation of students with disabilities completing online assessments and be prepared to provide alternatives.
  • Explore the idea of changing assessment entirely to adopt more authentic demonstrations of knowledge and skills as described in this resource, rather than moving traditional assessment online.
  • Introduce your students to the overarching learning outcomes and goals for the course. Students appreciate knowing that activities and assessments in the course are intentionally chosen – remind them how each aligns with learning goals.
  • Authentic assessment (see Assessment: Following Through on Learning Outcomes) is an effective way to reduce cases of AI and draws on Bloom’s Taxonomy.
  • Map out scaffolded assignments so that students’ work is clearly drawing on their previous outlines, drafts and bibliographies submitted in the course.
    • You might request that students submit earlier draft materials throughout the course, to help ensure they are completing the work on their own and to schedule.
  • Students left on their own for large assignments tend to get into trouble, including plagiarism. Here are some deterring plagiarism alternatives.
  • Make assignments specific to your course experience. Base them on material covered in classes and tutorials (including class discussions and student presentations), not solely on extra reading or out-of-class work. Also make clear that tests and exams will require mastery of work completed for assignments.
  • Ask real questions in your discipline, and let students know that you expect engaged critical thinking. Encourage speculation based on evidence and reasoning, not just compilation of existing information or expression of unsupported personal opinion.
  • Create a plagiarism detection tool assignment in your Quercus course to which students submit their assignments electronically for analysis.
  • Consider using an Academic Integrity Checklist (see below). Students can submit the checklist with their assignments throughout your course. This checklist would be discussed well in advance of the assignment to educate and prepare students adequately for what they are agreeing to do to address AI.
  • Review the Accessibility Checklist for Faculty: Planning for Online Courses [pdf].
  • Consult ‘15 Strategies to Detect Contract Cheating’ for additional ideas to ensure AI is upheld.

Academic Integrity and Teaching Online/Remotely

Acting with Academic Integrity means acting in all academic matters with honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage.

Instructors moving their courses to online/remote learning, may have questions regarding Academic Integrity (AI), especially if this is an unfamiliar assessment environment. Some of these strategies are adapted from the Smart Strategies section of the University of Toronto’s Academic Integrity website to suit the online teaching and assessment environment.

You may also want to consider Guidance for Potential Risks in Remote Teaching.

Overview of Online Assessment Options

Two common online assessment types are fully supported in Quercus, U of T’s Learning Management System: (1) assignments and (2) online exams/quizzes.

Examples of effective practices that support Academic Integrity are included throughout this resource. Importantly, as you make assessment choices for the online/remote context, be cognizant of your students’ learning context. Many are participating in online/remote courses for the first time and may not be fully prepared or equipped for this mode of delivery.

With any choice of online assessment:

  • Keep in mind the technical resources and the online learning skills that students will need to succeed in your course.
  • Plan to provide extra support and scaffolding as students adjust to learning online/remotely.
  • Consider which type of technology tool might be best for the goals of your assessment.

Other forms of online assessment you might more fully explore with your Divisional educational support, teaching centres and/or colleagues in your discipline include:

  • Presentations: students (individually or in groups) submit an electronic ‘narrated presentation’ that can be assessed on the content and presentation techniques. Record their asynchronous presentations using SnagIt or present synchronous presentations via Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
  • Portfolio, logbook or assessment notebook: students may submit a link to their electronic portfolios. Note that there is also an e-portfolio tool on Quercus that students can use to assemble their artifacts.
  • Assessed seminars, group discussions and other similar activities: use synchronous (live) discussion activities (e.g.,
  • Zoom or Microsoft Teams or use asynchronous (recorded) discussion activities (Quercus Discussion).
  • Lab work: Use simulations to replicate some aspects of lab work. These can be done remotely in which students are presented with data sets (which were produced elsewhere) and required to comment on/interpret them.
  • Posters: students submit their posters in a digital format e.g., infographic, mind map, etc.

Online Exams/Tests/Quizzes and Delivery

Quizzes Tool in Quercus

The Quercus Quizzes tool can be used for automated online tests, including multiple choice and other common question types. The features available in the Quercus Quizzes tool allow for assessment design that mitigates academic dishonesty – see links to resources that address this in the “How To” section below.

  • Students may experience technical difficulties, interruptions, or other challenges that prevent them from completing the exam on the first try.
  • Offer a lower-stakes online assessment early in the course to allow students to ‘try out’ tools that you are using before using the online tools for higher-stakes tests.
  • When designing your tests/quizzes, focus your test items on students’ ability to synthesize and apply, rather than test on discrete pieces of information they will likely forget.
  • Review and carefully consider the ways that your own previously developed in-person exams may be adapted for online formats but avoid reusing questions from previous years’ exams, which may be available online with answers provided.
  • Be very cautious in selecting textbook-provided questions, or ‘exam bank’ or ‘test bank’ questions that are easily available online with answers provided.
  • Provide clear exam/test instructions and directions.
  • Be cautious of extended time periods to complete online tests and exams, such as 24-hour take-home exams (unless particular students have accessibility needs.)
  • The Quercus Quizzes tool is ideal for low-to-mid stakes assessments. Use Quizzes in Quercus for lower-stakes and more frequent assessments throughout the course.
  • Allow multiple attempts and free navigation among other options.
  • Consider a trial run of your timed test/exam with a colleague.
  • Take steps to ensure your students are optimally prepared for your online test/quiz/exam. Include the following information in the Quercus Quiz instructions:
    • Instructions: Provide clear instructions for students on how they should proceed with the online test or exam, including start and stop times.
    • Contact Information: Phone number, email where you (or an assigned TA) can be immediately reached if a student experiences a technical issue during the exam.
    • Best Practice: For longer quiz responses (free-form) suggest that students create their responses in a Word document and paste these into the Quercus Quiz text box (e.g., in case their Wi-fi connection is lost mid-way through the test/exam). Please note that Quercus does autosave but this is an additional recommendation.
  • Through the use of features such as question randomization in the Quercus Quiz tool you are able to create a number of different versions of the same quiz, test or exam, with the questions randomized in these versions.
  • Select from a wide range of Quercus Quizzes item formats (e.g., multiple choice, true-false, numerical answer).
  • Create an Automated Online Timed Test: use the Quercus Quizzes Tool (video):
  • Includes directions on using quiz configuration strategies (e.g., randomization of questions; time limits).
  • Use Quercus Quiz Settings to maximize security.
  • Quercus Quizzes includes configuration strategies to ensure students with accommodation needs are met (e.g., longer timed exam).

Academic Integrity and Online Proctoring (eProctoring)

Online proctoring (eProctoring) provides additional rigour to support AI in online exams on a fee for service basis. There are a number of different methods including live proctoring and review of a recording by a human proctor after completion. If there are specific courses that have unique needs (high impact, admissions prerequisite, program needs), supervision and/or review by a remote but live proctor, in combination with the online exam implemented in Quercus using the Quiz tool, is a possibility.

However, you should contact your Vice-Dean Education, or equivalent, for guidance and approval.

  • Inadequate bandwidth and equipment, or geographical location may impact student ability to meet technical requirements.
  • Accommodations must be provided for students with accessibility needs.
  • Students may be anxious regarding the technical aspects of taking an online exam with a remote proctor or recording.
  • It is difficult to onboard large numbers of students simultaneously (200+), as vendor technical support may become a bottleneck. Rolling start times within a given window may be necessary.
  • Set up of online proctoring requires considerable effort on the part of the instructor to craft communication, prepare students, and develop an exam within system constraints.
  • Avoid use of platforms that are not institutionally approved and supported for online proctoring use at the University of Toronto (e.g., publisher add-ons, Zoom or TopHat). Be aware that low or no cost services are very easy to manipulate (e.g., use of pre-recorded video of working at computer, adjusting of camera to not show ‘cheat sheets’).
  • Follow these suggested strategies to ensure students are comfortable and able to succeed in this online assessment process.

Academic Integrity Supports for Instructors and Students

As instructors and students engage in the remote/online environment, U of T is offering comprehensive supports as you navigate institutional expectations, processes, and learn the norms of a particular discipline.

  • Collaborate with colleagues across U of T to tap into existing approaches to existing best practices in assignment and assessment design.
  • Register for upcoming [CTSI webinars] for design and technical guidance.
  • View CTSI and/or peer institution recording or live webinar with colleague(s) and discuss together applications to your own courses/discipline.
  • Connect with your Liaison Librarian as early as possible in your course. This librarian assistance ensures you are taking a proactive, educational approach to AI:
    • For planning your assignments.
    • For in-class presentations customized to your assignments addressing the information skills your students will need to be successful in your course.
    • For sharing a wide range of short instructional videos.
  • Integrate the writing centre and its student supports into your course to ensure students are taught appropriate research writing and referencing/citation for your discipline.
  • Regularly remind students of writing centre supports and the value of engaging with these support staff to build one’s confidence in research and writing techniques that may reduce AI offences.
  • Contact your divisional Educational Technology support staff for recommended AI technology support.

Protocols for Academic Integrity-related Data Requests (requires UTORid and password to access)

How to Handle a Suspected Academic Offence

Instructors who have questions about the process for the handling of academic offences should consult the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters and University of Toronto Academic Integrity, or contact the individual responsible for Academic Integrity within their department/division (in many cases this would be the undergraduate chair or associate chair/dean). In addition, divisional Academic Integrity offices in the largest divisions are able to provide advice regarding particular Academic Integrity issues or to discuss a specific situation.

These include:

As an Instructor, if you suspect an academic offence has taken place, you are encouraged to follow the steps set out at University of Toronto Academic Integrity.

Sample Academic Integrity Statements

University of Toronto (Recommended Academic Statement)

[Place this U of T Academic Integrity Statement on the cover page of quizzes, exams and assignments]:

“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.”

[Place this U of T Academic Integrity Statement on the cover page of quizzes, exams and assignments]:

The following is what I expect of students in this course for your own learning and benefit of all the students in this course.

As a student (insert name) in this course, I am committed:

  • To sustain my effort and engagement for the learning in this course.
  • To ask questions about the purpose of or criteria for an assessment if I am uncertain.
  • To ask questions about the rules surrounding the assessment if I am uncertain.
  • To follow the rules for the assessment, including under conditions of no supervision.
  • To treat my personal learning as valuable it its own right.

I submit this assessment, acknowledging the above commitments and that I have followed the rules outlined by my instructor and consistent with the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters.

(student name/student number/date)

Like the statement adapted from the University of Saskatchewan, this statement asks the student to confirm that they have followed academic integrity policy. In this particular example, the student is asked to do this twice; once at the start of the test and again at the end.

For the beginning of the assessment:
We at U of T want you to feel proud of what you accomplish as students. Please respect all of the hard work you’ve done this year as you complete the following assessment of your learning by making sure that the work you do here is your own. We don’t expect you to score perfectly on this assessment and there will be some things that you may not know. Using an unauthorized resource or asking someone else for the answer robs you of the chance later to feel proud of how well you did because you’ll know that it wasn’t really your work that got you there. Success in university isn’t about getting a certain mark, it’s about becoming the very best person you can by enriching yourself with knowledge, strengthening yourself with skills, and building a healthy self-esteem based on how much you’ve grown and achieved. No one assessment captures that but your conscience will stay with you forever. Make yourself and your loved ones proud of the student that you are by conducting yourself honestly on this assessment.

I, [Please type full first name, last name, and any initials], University of Toronto student number [Please enter full student number], pledge to honour myself and my community by assuring that the work I do on this assessment fully represents my own knowledge and ideas. I will feel proud of my work here when I am done because I know that it was my own and only mine.


For the end of the assessment:
Congratulations—you’ve made it to the end of your assessment for this course! We hope that you feel proud of the work that you did here because you know that it was your own and no one else’s. Please know that all suspected cases of academic dishonesty will be investigated following the procedures outlined in the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters. If you have violated that Code, admitting it now will significantly reduce any penalty you incur if it’s discovered by your instructor later. Admitting your mistakes is as much a matter of pride as never making them from the beginning. Thus, please check the appropriate statement below:

__ I confirm that the work I’ve done here is my own and no one else’s, in line with the principles of scholarship and the University of Toronto’s Code of Behaviour
__ I regret that I violated the Code of Behaviour on this assessment and would like to admit that now so that I can take responsibility for my mistake

I, [Please type full first name, last name, and any initials], University of Toronto student number [Please enter full student number], confirm that my response here is an accurate and true representation of my behaviour, knowing that by signing this declaration untruthfully I will incur an even greater penalty if it is later discovered that I have cheated or behaved dishonestly on this assessment.

Sample Academic Integrity Checklist

Course code:
Assignment title:
Instructor’s name:

I, __________________, affirm that this assignment represents entirely my own efforts.

I confirm that:

__ I have acknowledged the use of another’s ideas with accurate citations.
__ If I used the words of another (e.g., author, instructor, information source), I have acknowledged this with quotation marks (or appropriate indentation) and proper citation.
__ When paraphrasing the work of others, I put the idea into my own words and did not just change a few words or rearrange the sentence structure
__ I have checked my work against my notes to be sure I have correctly referenced all direct quotes or borrowed ideas.
__ My bibliography includes only the sources used to complete this assignment.
__ This is the first time I have submitted this assignment (in whole or in part) for credit.
__ Any proofreading by another was limited to indicating areas of concern which I then corrected myself.
__ This is the final version of my assignment and not a draft.
__ I have kept my work to myself and did not share answers/content with others, unless otherwise directed by my instructor.
__ I understand the consequences of violating the University’s Academic Integrity policies as outlined in the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters.

By submitting this form, I agree that the statements above are true. If I do not agree with the statements above, I will not submit my assignment and will consult the course instructor immediately.

Student name:

Frequently Asked Questions

All questions concerning academic integrity should be directed to the University of Toronto’s Academic Integrity site which provides resources for faculty, staff and students, including Code of Behaviour and Smart Strategies to help students and instructors promote and maintain academic integrity at U of T.

Discussing Academic Integrity with Your Students

While the University takes the position that it is the student’s responsibility to know the Code and understand what constitutes an academic offence, it is the responsibility of every instructor to educate their students about the principles of academic integrity, and to direct them to the appropriate resources and supports.

It is important to raise the topic of academic integrity with your class, in order to:

  • Reinforce that the University takes academic integrity seriously
  • Reinforce the importance of integrity in their current academic life and future career
  • Educate and inform students about academic offences and how to avoid them
  • Promote continued discussion and encourage questions from students

Many students are uninformed about academic integrity and are unprepared to recognize or respond to situations in which they are vulnerable to committing an offence. Plagiarism often arises because of poor writing and research habits, such as the inability to paraphrase and summarize, or losing track of sources and references. For example, when asked, students will typically be able to define plagiarism, but this does not necessarily mean they will know how to recognize plagiarism in their own work.

The following strategies can help you increase academic integrity awareness and help you begin conversations with your students:

  • Ask your students to define important terms such as plagiarism, collaboration, paraphrase, summarize, editing and proofreading.
  • Talk with your class about the meaning of citations and why they are made. Understand that students from outside Canada may have different perceptions of ownership of ideas.
  • State and explain your expectations regarding group work and collaboration. Make clear what is expected regarding individual contributions and submitting individual work.
  • Provide examples of correct citations and both direct quotations and paraphrases. Include this in your syllabus or with your assignment handout.
  • Where possible, discuss research and writing techniques with your students. Provide documentation that will assist them with writing papers (e.g., Writing Centre advice on proper citation methods, How Not to Plagiarize, and Paraphrase and Summary).
  • Integrate the writing centre and/or the library into your course.
    • Provide information about courses/services offered
    • Invite writing centre/library staff into your class
    • Design a library-based assignment
  • Avoid speaking confrontationally about academic offences, which can alienate good students. Promote fairness in your course and be open to questions.
  • Remember that providing a link to a resource or distributing a handout without discussing it is a passive strategy. Reinforce the importance of the aids you have provided by referring to them in class and in your communications.
  • Model good practice – be sure to include proper citations on your course materials, website, and in your lectures.

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