Student Engagement Resources

Engaging students and determining how engaged they are in the course can be a challenge in an online, asynchronous educational mode. There are resources that you can use to help nudge students to engage with you, their peers, and the course content and activities. Starfish is one resource that connects students to advising and other support to track their progress and get help when they need additional support. But what if that is not enough?

Engaging Students Beyond Starfish

Academic Integrity

Students may need help to understand the behaviors and practices in their own learning that are in accordance with Penn State academic integrity and student conduct policies and expectations. Students who are highly stressed may feel they don’t have enough time to complete an assignment or assessment, feel embarrassment or shame when asking for help, or be more tempted to take shortcuts that compromise their integrity. Many other students whose work falls outside of the policies may simply not understand what those policies and guidelines are. There are a few ways to help students to avoid these problems and build awareness of support that is available to them when they need help.


Use the support available to your students to instruct and deter them from considering the option of compromising their academic integrity by taking shortcuts and to help them understand when then are not in compliance with university standards.

  • Ask students to complete the Academic Integrity assessment and post their results as an assignment.
  • Have students do more frequent, lower-stakes assignments to monitor more gradual and consistent progress over time rather than infrequent and higher-stakes assessments. This can even be done by breaking a large assignment, such as a capstone research project, into smaller steps.
  • Review some of the benefits and considerations related to academic integrity for these common assessment types (open book, multiple choice, short answer/essay)
  • If you absolutely require an exam to be proctored, there is a process and a fee associated with it, so use sparingly and by necessity. Penn State had been contracted with Examity for this service but is now reviewing contracts with a new vendor.
  • Use Turnitin for drafts and for students to check their work. This can be set so that submitted assignments are not sent to the repository.

Course Hero and other “Clearing House” sites

Course Hero and other sites may be used by students as a shortcut to complete all the work expected of them on their own. It’s sometimes tricky to detect if they have used such sites to help them complete assigned work, but it does help if faculty are aware of what might be happening outside of their observation.

Penn State does not have a central source to monitor activity on sites like Course Hero. It’s complicated. Course Hero does have a mechanism to request that they remove materials if those materials infringe on IP rules, such as text copied from a syllabus or assignment or course materials. However, if something is considered an original work by a student, it is more complicated because it is the student’s property.

Here is Course Hero’s explanation and process

Some colleges and campuses may track and request removal of materials from Course Hero. Contact your campus representative for more info.