Adelaide student speaks with the ABC about contract cheating
Contract cheating has received a significant amount of media attention in the past few weeks, in part due to TEQSA’s action to block access to 40 suspected contract cheating websites.
This news will come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the regulator’s actions on contract cheating over the past twelve months, which have included a Federal Court injunction requiring service providers to block access to suspected cheating sites, a host of new guides and resources for educators and students, and the sharing of lists of suspected cheating sites with higher education providers.
What might come as more of a shock is that according to TEQSA, these 40 sites alone rack up around 450,000 visits per month from within Australia.
This may come as less of a surprise to some of our students, however, who face a steady stream of ‘homework help’ offers and adverts every time they log in to social media, or search for a resource online. Whether or not students choose to use them, most are well aware that assessment answers can be found online.
Just a few weeks ago, a group of University of Adelaide students were interviewed as part of an ABC investigation into contract cheating in Australia.
‘Most of the questions can be found online’ one students tells the reporter, while another punches an old assignment question into a search engine and immediately finds five separate places where the question has been asked and answered. When asked whether using these answers would be cheating, she answers that the information is readily available online, so it’s not really dishonest to use it.
The ABC article and radio segment seeks to expose ‘the billion dollar industry helping students cheat’, and the reporting highlights the complexity of this issue: students are under a variety of financial and time pressures which may encourage them to cheat, and some may be struggling to keep up with study in English. But another key factor in this conversation is opportunity. If question banks are published online and questions are recycled or reused, this can create opportunities for student to cheat, and for future students to benefit from this in subsequent assessments. When a quiz is online and nobody is watching, it can be tempting to do the wrong thing. There is a range of approaches to mitigate these risks through assessment design, platforms and tools – take a look at some of our resources below.
Educational resources – talk to students about academic integrity, what it means in your course, and why it’s important for their academic and professional development. Give them opportunities to practice the skills needed to work with integrity. Access slides, videos, games and other resources here.
Preventative tools and strategies – through assessment design and using tools such as Cadmus for online assessment. Enrol in the staff Academic Integrity training module to learn more about assessment design for academic integrity or listen to a panel of AIOs and Learning Designers discussing assessment design for integrity.
Discuss – schedule time to discuss academic integrity in an upcoming meeting, and reach out to the Academic Integrity Officer in your school.