Blog Posts from Academic Integrity Expert and Higher Education Professional
About Thomas Lancaster
My name is Dr. Thomas Lancaster, and I am a Associate Dean in Recruitment at Staffordshire University in the United Kingdom and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. My background is in the Computer Science discipline. My best known academic research relates to student plagiarism and contract cheating.
Please browse around the blog and the links, and feel free to leave your thoughts. Website:http://thomaslancaster.co.uk
Thomas Lancaster has written 127 articles so far, you can find them below.
Our research into contract cheating now includes more than 18,000 examples of attempts by students to cheat. One aspect we wanted to explore is to answer the often asked questions about the monetary sides to contract cheating. Who really profits?
This talk explores the commercial aspects associated with contract cheating, including examples from the diverse range of practices that we’ve uncovered.
The research is focused particularly on contract cheating using auction sites, so there are still other areas to explore. The data for those other contract cheating methods, however, can be very difficult to come by.
I’m currently attending ITiCSE 2013 which is one of the world’s major conferences looking at Computer Science Education.
One of the major changes being discussed related to the planned changes in the way that Computing is taught in schools within the UK. Simon Peyton Jones (of Haskell fame) delivered a keynote address about his work with the Computing At School project, and this subject has also been picked up in discussions in person, in Twitter and during panel sessions.
The main problem expressed with Computing at school has been the focus on ICT skills. That is, trying to ensure that children are able to use computer packages (particularly Microsoft Office) and consume information, but not understanding the mechanics and science behind computers.
That approach has been said to be damaging to pupils, with GCSE coursework based around taking hundreds of screenshots. There have also been expressions that this is demoralising to staff, with the low level of teaching not allowing them to engage pupils (one delegate reported having to teach fashion students how to use a mouse).
The alternative, which is being pushed, is to offer several different choices of Computing qualifications, analogous to how Science may turn out Physics specialists as well as people with a more general Combined Science qualification. The push needs to be to treat Computing on a level with other core subjects.
The recommendations from the Computing At School Working Group include students being exposed to Computer Science from an early age, gaining a practical understanding of topics such as algorithms and logic. All of the GCSE accreditation bodies are now offering qualifications in Computer Science as well as in ICT. And, funding for training school teachers has now moved away from training ICT teachers to instead training Computer Science teachers.
One of the outstanding questions is how these changes will impact upon study at university level. Will students be arriving at university with higher level skills, thus requiring university courses to start and end at a more advanced level? Will at interest in Computer Science at school increase the uptake of Computer Science at university? As Computer Science is repositioned, universities will have to adapt to the changes.
Here is the video version of a presentation for the ICAS 2013 workshop. I’m unable to attend this workshop in person as I’m attending ITiCSE 2013 at the same time, however one of my colleagues will provide the presentation at the workshop on my behalf.
The presentation looks at applying the growing research area of intelligent context-aware systems to one of my main research fields of student cheating and plagiarism. I’ve selected three particular problems within the field and proposed some initial solutions which use this type of computer systems.
This area is very much a work-in-progress, as there are several other plagiarism, cheating and academic integrity related problems which I could have selected. Further, with some more development of solutions, each one of these concerns could easily form the basis for a paper on its own.
My intention here is to open up the discussion, and ideas for research focus, solutions and collaboration opportunities are welcome.
This video presentation explores the methods that I’ve been using with my undergraduate students to help them to gain a practical understanding of research methods and to become prepared to use research within their final year project.
The presentation is part of the current Higher Education Academy project on Innovation In The Assessment Of Social Science Research Methods. Although my approach is geared around my experiences with Computing students, I do feel that the techniques are applicable to other academic disciplines, and I’ll be interested to hear any thoughts and ideas.
As part of my responsibility for the BSc Computer Science course at Birmingham City University, I get the opportunity to review a lot of Personal Statements submitted by students looking to join the course.