Instructor Strategies to Mitigate Contract Cheating

“Contract cheating occurs when a student procures a third party (who knows about and benefits from the transaction) to produce academic work (that is usually, but not always assessable work) that the student then submits to an educational institution as if it were their own” (Ellis, Zucker & Randall (2018) p. 1). 

 

There is no silver bullet solution for the problem of contract cheating.  It is multi-faceted, and calls for multiple mitigation strategies.   

Assessment design 

No assessment is “cheat-proof but assessment design is widely regarded as an important strategy.  What makes sense or is possible in one course, may not fit for another course.  Instructors considering assessment options can:  

Appropriate help for students 

Students may find sites because they are legitimately looking for help with their learning.  Some sites known for enabling contract cheating can be used in appropriate ways.  Refer students to appropriate help available at our University.  For example: 

  • Student Learning Services offers workshops and resources already attuned to academic integrity and good learning practices.   
  • Help, tutorial, and study sessions are offered by some courses or programs.   If yours is one of them, promote this kind of help actively, including pointing out that this is better than third party assistance for both quality and academic integrity.
  • Offer instructor office hours.  It can be more comfortable for students to meet with you in pairs or small groups, including during remote instruction. 
  • Warn students about problems in addition to academic misconduct penalties that they risk with contract cheating sites. See this post for more about how Contract Cheating is Riskier Than Students Think

Detection Approaches 

Some Canadian research   

 

 See What is Contract Cheating? for more on contract cheating as a phenomenon in higher education.