Do students think that we should “defeat the cheat”? Or should we “excel with integrity”?
It’s really great to see Students Unions getting on board to share the message that cheating is wrong.
Here’s a video discussion which originally formed a live broadcast on Facebook between Darren Clarke, Student Union President at Staffordshire University and Dr. Thomas Lancaster. This was recorded as part of the 2nd International Day of Action against Contract Cheating.
At the end, you can see Darren give his whiteboard declaration showing his support for the campaign.
We’re encouraging more Student Unions to support events like this. They don’t have to be timed with the International Day of Action (which was also Global Ethics Day). Getting students involved in saying no to cheating is really having a positive effect on academic integrity.
Lancaster, T. and Clarke, R., 2017. Rethinking Assessment By Examination In The Age Of Contract Cheating.
In this age of contract cheating, where students are paying and using third parties to complete their work, there are many educators who are advocating a return to assessment through tests and examinations. The standard argument is usually that the level of examination security is such that the student alone is being tested and that an external body cannot be used to provide unacknowledged support for this process. Some academics seem to be have the view that the traditional type of assessment by examination is valued by employers more than coursework. However, opponents of assessment through examination note the restrictive form of this type of assessment, that many examination papers focus mainly on recall and memory and that examinations provide little opportunity for students to develop extended arguments and portfolio pieces. Assessment through examination does not seem to be the sole solution to contract cheating.
This paper builds on previous work, mostly published in the form of presentations and blog posts, that looks at the methods of contract cheating that have been used in an examination setting. It includes examples of student contract cheating requests used in an examination scenario, including several taken from a collection of over 30,000 contract cheating requests developed by contract cheating detectives during their investigative process. Examples covered demonstrate susceptibilities in the way that many examinations are set and invigilated. These are vulnerabilities that leave exams open to external cheating and which need to be closed. An issue is particularly noted with examinations taken online and outside of a traditional supervised environment. Even within an invigilated examination, external support can be provided through new technologies, including smartwatches, cameras and earpieces. These allow a student to communicate to someone hired through a contract cheating process and operating outside of an examination room.
The paper argues that assessment needs to continue to evolve to ensure that this is secure, fit for purpose and ensures that a student who is cheating cannot receive a qualification that they do not deserve. It is stated that the use of mixed modalities of assessment is necessary to ensure academic integrity and authentic assessment now needs to be at the forefront of this process. Practical considerations for academics setting examinations are discussed in the paper to ensure that good practice is fed back into the classroom.
What can the Computing discipline do about contract cheating? After all, these are the academics with the technical skills to design solutions to prevent and detect contract cheating and plagiarism.
This research presentation, delivered at University of West London, looked particularly at issues relating to Computing, as well as the developments that would likely prove useful to academics within this field.