Integrity Violations

Using Project and Resource Academic Integrity Detection successfully

SIMnet Project and Resource assignments have a special security feature called the Academic Integrity Detection. This assists instructors in determining that students are using the file that they downloaded from their assignment page and uploading work that is their own. Academic Integrity Detection is designed to assist the Instructor and School in determining if a student has misrepresented SIMnet work as their own. It is a resource that provides additional information about where a student’s file came from and who may have worked on it.

SIMnet Projects must be completed using the REQUIRED: Start File link

What is Academic Integrity Detection?

When a student downloads a Resource or Project start file from their assignment page, SIMnet injects additional data, inaccessible to the user. This is referred to as the user’s Unique Signature. That additional data is an encrypted set of keys used to uniquely identify the student and start file. Each downloaded start file has at least one unique signature. Depending on the size of the start file multiple distinct Unique Signatures are injected into various locations of the file. Injecting multiple Unique Signatures prevents tampering with the Unique Signature. The student must upload a file that contains the same unique signature data that was included in their downloaded file. When the student uploads or submits their assignment for grading, the file is automatically reviewed for these Unique Signature elements before the assignment is accepted. If the data matches the student’s information, then the file is graded. If the Unique Signature data does not match, the student receives an Academic Integrity Violation flag or will not be able to submit their file depending on the instructor’s set preferences. A submitted file that doesn't contain any Unique Signatures is not accepted.

How can a student fail the Integrity Violation Detection check?

There are multiple ways that a student can have their file fail the Academic Integrity Detection check.

  1. The student’s file does not contain any Unique Signature data. In this situation the student has typically downloaded their start file from the SIMbook page or started with a blank file. Files that contain no Unique Signature data cannot be uploaded to SIMnet regardless of instructor preference.

  2. The student’s file contains the Unique Signature data of another student. The student has submitted another student’s file as their own Assignment for grading. All of the elements of the file contain the Unique Signature of another student.

  3. The student’s submission contains elements of another student’s file. The student has downloaded their own file from SIMnet but copy/pasted elements of another student’s file into their own file. Individual elements from SIMnet Project files, like a paragraph in Word or a cell in Excel have Unique Signature elements. In this instance, the unique signature of some or all of these elements does not match the student’s file but does match the unique signature of another student.

How can instructors use Academic Integrity Detection?

Instructors may choose to prevent their students from uploading any files that include any Academic Integrity Detection issues. In this case, if any of the three potential issues with the student’s unique signature occur, the student's file will not be graded and the student will get an error message when they upload their file.

To disallow submissions with any Student Integrity issues, in the Project Assignment Details window, deselect the Allow Student Submissions with Integrity Violation check box.

The Allow Student Submission with Integrity Violation check box

By default, students can upload assignments with Academic Integrity Violations. When an Integrity Violation occurs, by default, their instructor will receive an email notification that a violation has occurred and be able to view that there is a new Integrity Violation on the Dashboard. These two areas will prompt the instructor to view the individual Academic Integrity Violation Report for that particular submission.

The Academic Integrity Violation Report shows the instructor information about the student who uploaded the file and information about the student whose file was uploaded. There are two types of Academic Integrity Violation Reports, one for when the student uploaded a file belonging to another student and one for when the student has uploaded their own file but it contains elements of another student’s file.

Integrity violation with submitted file and integrity violation with file elements

My student says that the Unique Signature notification or Academic Integrity Violation is in error.

The Academic Integrity Detection system is a simple check. Either the student’s file has the encrypted data unique to them or it doesn’t. This check is reliable and accurate. However, this is not a guarantee of cheating in and of itself. Instructors may elect to review each individual Academic Integrity Violation. Below are two scenarios that may occur and how an instructor may review them.

Situation 1: Student A has inadvertently submitted their work on Student B’s account. In this instance, Student B will have an Integrity Violation. There are two pieces of information that an instructor may use to help determine if this issue occurred. First, the file submitted to Student B’s account will have the name of Student A. Second, reviewing the login details of each student in the Student History will show that the two students generally login from similar locations.

Situation 2: Student A has taken Student B’s file and uploaded it to their account. The clearest information additional to the Academic Integrity Violation itself will be the name of the student’s submitted file. If Student A has submitted a file that has their name on it but Student B’s unique signature data they have made an attempt to pass Student B’s work off as their own. Many times the students will not go to the same school or work in similar locations, making inadvertent submission increasingly unlikely.

🗒 Is there any information available outside of the Integrity Violation Report?

SIMnet provides all available the details in the Integrity Violation Report. In most cases, we recommend cross-referencing the Student History to review the student's login time, IP address, and the computer/browser details to further support the Integrity Violation case.