Montenegro is a fascinating country, which I had the pleasure to visit as part of our SEEPPAI research. There is only one public university, but it’s spread over multiple sites. There are several private universities.
I presented some of the SEEPPAI results and participated in wider discussions about academic integrity and future opportunities in the region at an event organised by the Council of Europe.
The presentation discussed the wide range of views I’d experienced from staff and students in the region, often seeming to depend on the level reached within the university system. I was very pleased to see the interest in doing something about the academic integrity challenges, particularly from the students at the event.
There is a lot of good work going on in the region. It all just needs to be communicated to a wider audience.
During a research and learning seminar presented at London Metropolitan University, I focused on the technology behind contract cheating and the related issues behind it. A number of examples showing how Computing academics could be involved in creating the software solutions needed to prevent and detect contract cheating were presented.
There are several examples of interest embedded with the slides, but in particular I looked at a Literature Review assignment produced for the Fake Britain TV programme. I also demonstrated a number of other ways that that a student could have that same assignment produced for them. Since this process involves the creation of original work, it is very hard to detect.
Afterwards the discussion focused on the people producing work for students. It was pointed out that many students do not need to use technology at all to get their work done. There are known groups of individuals working and in and around universities providing original academic assignment writing services, which students hear about through word of mouth.
This development is nothing new and just continues to demonstrate the wide range of personal, social, pedagogical and technical responses needed to reduce contract cheating. Continued vigilance is always necessary.
The Indian market is one of a number of economies where students can find a writer, programmer or worker willing to complete their work for them. From an economic point of view, a worker of this type can be employed for a price that is cost-effective for the student, but also provides a reasonable wage for the contractor. There are also workers available with a high level of English language ability for written work and technical skills for computing work.
I explore some of the issues related to the international supply of workers, including those workers from India, in this video.
In the video, I also look at an example of a request observed on an outsourcing web site of a student asking to have a statistical assignment completed for them. This falls within the group of assignments which can be completed without necessarily having a perfect knowledge of English.
Out of the 20 people who bid to complete the work for the assignment, 15% of them (3 out of 20), stated in their profile that they were from India. This was the most common country represented, although countries worldwide, with a slight dominance for Asia and Africa, were visible.
One of the Indian bidders had completed 37 projects on the site, of which the majority looked to be Computing assignments. This does demonstrate a subset of workers from India who are using contract cheating as a source of income.
Of course, this example covers only of one assignment, quickly selected, and one worker. A more in-depth analysis would be needed to explore further trends. But, it does appear that the media attention is warranted and there are Indian workers contributing to help students to cheat – just as there are other nationalities doing likewise.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve had recently is condensing some of the research highlights behind contract cheating into a talk timed to last just 10 minutes, for Birmingham City University’s RESCON conference.
This talk looked particularly at the pricing of essays, based around our own research as well as collaborations with the external media, including Times Higher Education. The focus of the session was particularly on essays, and covered topics outside Computing, so as to appeal to the multidisciplinary nature of RESCON.
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.