The Duke Community Standard embraces the principle that “intellectual and academic honesty are at the heart of the academic life of any university. It is the responsibility of all students to understand and abide by Duke’s expectations regarding academic work.” (1) Learning the rules of legitimacy in academic work is part of college education, so the topic of cheating and plagiarism should be embraced as part of ongoing discussion among students, and faculty instructors should remind students of this obligation throughout their courses. 

Communicating expectations

Include a statement about cheating and plagiarism in your syllabus. Remind students that they must uphold the Duke Community Standard as an obligation of participating in our learning community. Students can use library resources to learn more about plagiarism and take the Duke Library’s plagiarism tutorial

Reduce confusion about cheating and plagiarism by setting expectations for collaboration, guidelines for citation and the use of electronic sources for every assessment. It may be necessary to define what kinds of programs are considered cheating for your discipline (for example, online translators in language courses). Even if you cover general guidelines through your syllabus at the beginning of the course, make clear statements about what type of collaboration and resources are appropriate to use for each assignment. You can ask students to sign a pledge sheet in a written exam or remind them of academic integrity before exams begin online; Sakai Tests and Quizzes can be configured so that students must agree to the Duke Community Standard before beginning.

Provide ongoing feedback to reduce the temptation to cheat. Students may be tempted to cheat when they don’t know how to approach a task. Requiring students to turn in smaller chunks of a paper or project for feedback and a grade ahead of the final deadline can lessen the risk of cheating. Having multiple milestones on larger assessments reduces the stress of finishing a paper at the last minute or cramming for a final exam. 

> Research and Citation Resources (Purdue’s Writing Center)
> Duke Student Conduct guidelines (Duke University Office of Student Conduct)
> How Relationships with Students Reduce Cheating

Designing assessments

Ask questions that have no single right answer. The most direct approach to reduce cheating is to design open-ended assessment items. When writing test or quiz questions ask yourself: could this answer be easily discovered online? If so, rewrite your question to elicit more critical thinking from your student. Critical thinking questions can take the form of any question type. For example, a real-world case study scenario can gauge higher-order thinking more effectively than multiple choice responses. 

Open-ended assessments can take the form of case studies, projects, essays, podcasts, interviews or “explain your work” problem sets. Students can provide examples of course concepts in a novel way. They can record themselves explaining the idea to someone else or make a mind map of related events or ideas. They can present their solutions to real-world scenarios as a poster or a podcast. If you choose to conduct an exam, designing questions that ask students to decide which concepts or equations to apply in a scenario, rather than testing recall, may make the most sense for many courses. You could include an oral exam component where students explain their work for a particular problem.

Minimize opportunities for cheating in tests and quizzes. If you offer quizzes or tests in your course there are several steps that you can take to reduce cheating, plagiarism or other violations to the Duke Community Standard:

  1. Enable the Honor Pledge for your test or quiz. Studies have shown that when students have to manually agree to the Honor Pledge prior to submitting an assignment, they are more likely to uphold the tenets of the Duke Community Standard.(2)
  2. Limit time. Set a time limit that gives students enough time to properly progress through the activity but not so much that those unprepared can research every question.
  3. Randomize question order. When you randomize (or shuffle) your test or quiz questions, all students will still receive the same questions but not necessarily in the same order. This strategy is particularly useful when you have a large question pool and choose to show a few questions at a time.
  4. Randomize answer order. When you randomize the answers to a question, all students will still receive the same answers but not necessarily in the same order.
  5. Use large question pools. Pools allow you to use the same question across multiple assessments or create a large number of questions to pull randomly from. For example, you could develop (or repurpose) 30 questions in a pool and have Sakai randomly choose 15 of those questions for each student’s assessment.
  6. Hide correct answers and scores until the test or quiz is closed. This can prevent students from sharing questions and answers with peers during the assessment period.
  7. Require an explanation of the student answer. (Sakai can require a rationale, or faculty can set up a separate question requiring an explanation, maybe using a voice recorder).

> How do I set up a random question set in Sakai?
> How do I add a question to a question pool in Sakai?
> How do I view and modify the settings of an assessment in Sakai?
> Strategies to reduce cheating online 

Duke has chosen not to implement a Duke-wide proctoring technology

Duke relies on an honor code as outlined by the Duke Community standard. When thinking about proctoring, keep in mind how implementing such policies and technologies might affect our ability to create student-centered learning experiences. Several issues of student well-being and technological constraints you might want to keep in mind include:

  1. Student privacy: Proctoring services essentially bring strangers into students’ homes or dorm rooms — in places students may not be comfortable exposing. These violations of privacy perpetuate inequity through the use of surveillance technologies. Additionally, it is often the case that these services record and store actions of students on non-Duke servers and infrastructure. 
  2. Technology access: Not all students may have the same access to technology (e.g., external webcams) for makeshift proctoring.
  3. Accessibility: Proctoring software can create more barriers for students who need accommodations.
  4. Proctoring reinforces a surveillance aspect to learning, which impacts student performance. We suggest that you instead design assessments to be authentic and learner-centered.

> 7 Ways to Assess Students Online and Minimize Cheating (Chronicle of Higher Education)
> Tips for Exams and Alternative Assessments (Rutgers)
> Remote testing monitored by AI is failing the students forced to undergo it (NBC News)


  1. The Duke Community Standard and Student Conduct
  2. The Impact of Honor Codes and Perceptions of Cheating on Academic Cheating Behaviors, Especially for MBA Bound Undergraduates by Heather M. O’Neill, Christian M. Pfeiffer