We Take Academic Integrity Seriously

We believe that students learn Physics best when:

  • They work with symbolic expressions, rather than simply final numeric answers
  • They receive immediate and helpful hints and feedback
  • They solve multi-step problems without easy access to solutions online

Expert TA’s Suite of Academic Integrity Features

Instructor Tools

In Expert TA instructors have full control over grading preferences, with the ability to adjust settings such as the number of submissions, deductions for hints and feedback, etc. With our new suite of Academic Integrity features, users will continue to experience this level of customization, with complete oversight and the option to turn any feature on or off.

  • Syllabus Recommendation – It is important that students understand not only the general scope and sequence for a class, course guidelines, and important due dates but also that they are made aware early on of the expectations for academic integrity. Expert TA makes including these details in your syllabus a simple process, providing editable language related to the standards for students associated with their online homework.
  • Honor Code and Customizable Class Policy Messages – Research suggests that when students have been exposed to clear and specific guidelines related to what constitutes cheating in a course, and they are continually reminded of these standards, there is a measurable effect on cheating. You have the ability to turn on “honor code” messages that will display for students each time they open an assignment as a reminder of the class policies related to academic integrity.
  • LockDown Browser

    Lock down the testing environment within the platform using Respondus. This built-in tool restricts students from accessing other applications, websites, messaging, and screen-sharing services on their device during the exam.

  • Question Pools – When creating assignments, instructors have the option to add problems into question pools (a group of problems from which one will be randomly chosen for students to work on in a given assignment). This means that instead of all students receiving assignments with identical problem ordering, each student may get a slightly different version through the random selection of problems from one or more problem pools.


Solution Security

  • In Assignment Deterrents
    Within the problem area, personally identifiable information is displayed. This includes both the student user name as well as a tracking code specific to that particular problem. A student cannot simply post the problem without taking extra steps of blacking out that information. On a timed assignment this extra step is an obstacle.
  • Digital Tracking Mechanisms
    In addition to the visible deterrents mentioned above, we have a number of digital tracking mechanisms, including invisible watermarks that are present throughout the problem area. The watermark is not visible to the naked eye but can be revealed from screen-captures that have been posted to the web. This information is specific to each student and allows us to track back to the individual violator.
  • *Randomization as a Tracking Tool (your most powerful tool)
    Most systems are able to deliver randomized numbers. Expert TA goes a step further and also provides a way to randomize words and phrases in a problem. The goal is to have a unique problem statement for each student, so that any posting of that problem to the web to be solved can lead back to a specific individual who made the post. Important – Instructors need to fully explain this process to students, which then serves as a powerful deterrent. Students need to understand that when they post a problem to be solved online, that their post is visible to others and that instructors can find these posts easily by searching for the problem statement. For the question/problem to be answered/solved, the posting needs to include all of the wording and numbers. This information however is unique to each student and can lead back to the student making the post. If a student removes the numbers in order to conceal their identity, a full solution of the problem can’t be provided.


System Features

  • Problem Masking – Students taking assignments in Expert TA never see problem name details, such as identifiable chapter, section, and ordinal information. While these details are seen by instructors, students will only see “Problem 1, Problem 2, Problem 3,” etc.
  • Assignment Settings Designed for Security
    Controls within the system that allow instructors to mirror a written exam. For example, delayed automatic grading restricts students from accessing the correct answer and conceals if their submission is correct or incorrect during the exam.
  • Randomized Variables – Every number associated with a problem in Expert TA that is not a constant has the ability to be randomized. Each variable contains a maximum value, minimum value, and a step size developed to fit the unique problem situation, while still allowing for sufficient differentiation in student results
  • Randomized Phrases – A portion of Expert TA’s problems contain phrase randomization. Placeholders for words and phrases within a problem statement are randomly swapped out so that each individual student taking a problem with randomized phrasing enabled reads a slightly different version of the question. The Physics concept is the same, but the situation changes slightly for each student. This makes it more difficult to simply search for the answer to a problem online.
  • Webcrawler
    Some students will break the rules and post problems to the web to be solved. Our webcrawler looks for all problems in our system, including your exam questions. When we find your problems we can contact the offending website to have the problems removed, and using Tracking Tools we can identify the offending student.