Contract Cheating: The State of Research and Practice in 2020

What is the current state of research in the contract cheating field?

I was asked to deliver a guest seminar for the Academic Integrity Policies course taken by PhD candidates at Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University in Turkey. That provided me with the opportunity to overview how the contract cheating research field has developed since 2006 and discuss what I consider to be current research challenges and opportunities in the field in 2020.

You can see the slides I used below (and also on my SlideShare account).

The video recording of the session is also available to watch on YouTube here.

I based the slides on ones I’ve used in my own Academic Integrity in STEMM module, taught to undergraduate students at Imperial College London, but tailored to meet the needs of the Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University audience. I also gave a sneak peak to some of the other research I’m working on. It is good to see modules like this being developed, as there are very few of them in the world.

As the presentation notes, contract cheating research is still in its infancy and care needs to be taken as to how results are interpreted, but there are also many opportunities for new researchers to get involved and to develop local case studies. Most importantly, we need to consider how to promote academic integrity and address contract cheating, as well as how actively incorporate and involve students as partners in this discussion.

Assessment and Plagiarism: Exploring Opportunities For Future CSEd Researchers

I was asked to talk about research opportunities within the assessment and plagiarism fields at the CSEdGrad Conference 2020 (with the focus aimed towards Masters and PhD students interested in Computer Science education).

You can see the slides I used below (and also on my SlideShare account).

This was only a brief presentation, as much of the session focus was on discussion and considering ways to help the students with their own research. But it was interesting to hear the students tell stories of their own experiences of teaching, including one to whom a former student confessed that one of their peers had done their assignments, but only after the course was completed. The term contract cheating wasn’t then known, but I hope it is now.

Putting the research angle aside, if nothing else this reiterates to me how important it is that we support everyone involved with teaching, including Teaching Assistants with understanding academic integrity and the role they have in preserving it.

Assessment and Plagiarism – Chapter Video Overview

Here is a video overview of a chapter I wrote, along with Anthony Robins and Sally Fincher, for The Cambridge Handbook of Computing Education Research.

The history behind this video is that I was asked to prepare a very short summary video about the chapter for a conference. I turned out to have far too much material as usual, so I’ve prepared a longer version. But I do still encourage you to read the whole chapter.

The video mentions a previous blog post on plagiarism and assessment, where I noted that it’s rare for both of these to be considered as part of the same academic research paper.

The chapter is based on Computing Education, so there’s a particular focus on assessment and plagiarism information as it relates to computer programming, although many of the ideas are much more widely applicable.

You can also access the Assessment and Plagiarism slides on Slideshare.

Combatting Contract Cheating: Training Staff in Your Institution – Webinar Slides

One area of contract cheating support that we need to think about further is how we train academic staff to address contract cheating. The UK’s Quality Assurance Agency asked me to discuss this on a webinar, with reference to the contract cheating guidance they released.

You can see the slides I used below (and also on my SlideShare account).

My focus for the presentation was on what needs to be covered during a staff development session, including understanding local processes and helping students to develop their own view of academic integrity.

If you’re interested in viewing the full webinar video, this is available from the QAA for Quality Insights Members.

As always, I’m happy to develop and deliver training for individual institutions in the UK or internationally. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to explore how we can work together.

The Business of Contract Cheating – Webinar Slides

Much of my recent research has focused on the contract cheating industry, the firms and individuals who help and encourage students to consider contract cheating.

As part of an event held as part of Ireland’s Academic Integrity Week on 22 October 2020 and supported by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, I was asked to talk about the business of contract cheating. It is a while since I’ve discussed this subject, so the presentation provided me with a great opportunity to bring my thoughts about the business processes together.

You can see the slides I used below (and also on my SlideShare account).

As I’ve mentioned many times, the knowledge many of these firms have about marketing and promotion far exceeds that in place within universities. That is how contract cheating providers are able to dominate the search engine rankings in many subjects.

The sheer number of people involved in the contract cheating process is often understated. Many firms and individuals take their cut of money along the way.

It is impossible to address contract cheating without considering that many firms and individuals now rely on this line of work to make a living. Writing assignments for students is just looked at as one of the next big entrepreneurial opportunities. If we don’t understand this, we can never put contract cheating interventions in place for the common good.

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