Contract Cheating In 2014 – What Online Cheating Is Happening Today

Here is a teaching focused talk on contract cheating I delivered for the Computer Science department at the University of Sheffield.

The slides, can be accessed on my SlideShare account, or viewed below.

There are several new and recent examples in this presentation, with less direct focus on research results. One example includes a sting operation from Local 6 News in Florida, who commissioned original work and caught the writer being paid on camera.

Some suggestions about how the Computing community can help to stop the impact of contract cheating are also provided. I believe that there is certainly scope for technical approaches for detection to be developed, but that sensible methods of setting assignments should also be considered.

An Initial Analysis Of The Contextual Information Available Within Auction Posts On Contract Cheating Agency Websites Video Presentation

Here is a presentation of a recent paper I coauthored with Robert Clarke presented in video form. The presentation muses on the detection opportunities afforded to contract cheating through a consideration of the wider context on which requests on agency sites are made.

The video is also available on the YouTube account for Thomas Lancaster

Automated methods of detecting contract cheating are one of the areas in which there is currently a real need. Whilst people like Robert Clarke provide a human detection process, this can never be 100% successful. For instance, there’s no way that a human can be continually monitoring every post on an agency site such as Freelancer.

Whilst an intelligent system would not be a sole solution to this problem, since it would require human checking, it would also increase the consistency through which posts are monitored, and would allow more information from such sites to be captured.

Using Turnitin As A Tool For Attribution In Cases Of Contract Cheating

A small success from our contract cheating work. We’ve found a way to improve on percentage of assignments found on agency sites which we’re able to attribute to academic institutions.

The secret? We’ve taken to running difficult to attribute assignment specifications through Turnitin, the plagiarism detection engine. It sounds counter-intuitive, but these often identity with fragments of work submitted by students.

All the details are in a paper from the HEA STEM Conference 2014, but the talk below, which I used at the conference, provides a few extra examples of interest

You can also check out this talk, and many slides from my other contract cheating sessions on my SlideShare account).

The conference format changed this year, which provided us with lots of time for discussion. The idea of contract cheating was new to some of the delegates and we went through a lot of examples, but we also talked about the future developments within student cheating and the issues associated with MOOCs and distance learning assessment.

Lots of stuff to keep academics on their toes.

The Prevention And Detection Of Contract Cheating

This is the second of two talks I delivered on contract cheating at a Birmingham City University workshop funded by the Higher Education Academy.

The focus of this talk was on three areas for people considering what to do about contract cheating: prevention, detection and policy. Several of the slides are prompt led and this generated a lot of discussion.

The slides, also available on SlideShare account for Thomas Lancaster, are provided here.

Some universities do still struggle to keep their academic integrity policies up-to-date, or these are only reviewed every few years. Such an approach is dangerous in a world where technology can rapidly change the cheating landscape.

There is also the policy question about where contract cheating begins. Does this start when a student submits work that they have outsourced, or is the mere request to outsource work the starting point. Personally, I favour the latter point, but many policies require the student to have completed the process and submitted bespoke work created by another person, which can be challenging to prove.

The Current Landscape Of Contract Cheating

This is a different talk on contract cheating to the ones that I normally deliver, as this was part of a general training workshop for contract cheating funded by the Higher Education Academy.

This is the first of two talks I delivered that day (Bob Clarke also contributed an activity). The focus was particularly on the ways that students are cheating, looking at plenty of examples other than agency sites and, and considering several seminal research studies in the field (most of which I’ve been involved with).

The slides, also available on SlideShare account for Thomas Lancaster, are provided here.

One of the most interesting discussions was about the use of proof reading to support students during their courses, particularly international students. One university had just introduced a policy on proof reading. This is a thorny issue, with a thin dividing line before where proof reading stops and cheating beyond an acceptable level begins. There are lots of further research possibilities within that area.

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