Blog Posts from Academic Integrity Expert and Higher Education Professional
About Thomas Lancaster
I am an experienced Computer Science academic, best known for research work into academic integrity, plagiarism and contract cheating. I have held leadership positions in several universities, with specialty in student recruitment and keen interest in working in partnership with students.
Please browse around the blog and the links, and feel free to leave your thoughts. Website:http://thomaslancaster.co.uk
Thomas Lancaster has written 192 articles so far, you can find them below.
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).
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was invited to deliver the opening keynote for the Eighth Annual Congress of Academic Integrity held remotely for Universidad de Monterrey, Mexico on 24 September 2020. The theme I was asked to talk about was contract cheating detection, providing me with the opportunity to review the state-of-the-art in research and practice in this field.
Detecting contract cheating is far from a solved problem, but there are methods in development that will make it possible in several situations. The danger is that the contract cheating industry knows this too and is always ready to adapt.
As I mention in the presentation, I believe detection needs to combine human detection with technical support. But this is only one part of the wider puzzle regarding how we can best address contract cheating.