“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).
Contract cheating is an increasing concern.
Research indicates contract cheating incidence is on the rise and is an international issue (Newton, 2018) . This form of cheating has been getting more attention in the last decade, and more recently, during remote teaching and learning under COVID 19 restrictions.
Fairness of assessment systems and evidence of student learning are compromised when students engage in academic misconduct. Contract cheating via some web-based services can occur in real time during online or unsupervised exams, or as a means for completing assignments in whole or in part or can be used to purchase papers or other written assignments, as examples.
Copyright infringement is also a problem.
When students post instructors’ intellectual property in the form of their teaching materials or assessments on third party sites, they are likely committing copyright infringements. USask instructors can get advice from your College academic misconduct contact regarding requesting material be removed from sites. It appears most sites will comply to the request but note that many do not have a consistent approach to prevent the materials from being posted again. Some sites even reward students for posting their own past papers or assignments and exams by “unlocking more credits” that allow those students more access to services. Ways to establish and ensure copyright are addressed in this post.
Students are taking more risks than they think.
In the USask academic misconduct regulations, students posting instructor or their own materials could be found to have engaged in academic misconduct as per definition (k): “knowingly assisting another person engage in actions that amount to academic misconduct, including the supply of materials prepared by the student to another student for use by that student as the work or materials of that student.”
Some sites target high school and postsecondary students they think are vulnerable to cheating temptations and they also target students who could become employees. Risks to students of blackmail and short-term and longer-term problems are being documented in the research and practice literature. But, many students remain unaware of the risks beyond academic misconduct penalties in their home institutions. Instructors can help by making students aware.
- Additional posts specific to contract cheating
- For a summary of some key facts, see this guide published by the International Centre for Academic Integrity.
- For more on the nature of this form of academic misconduct tracked over the last 15 years, see the work of Dr. Thomas Lancaster—a Computer Science academic at Imperial College London and a UK-based researcher, speaker and commentator on contract cheating.
- Ahead of the shift to remote, Amanda McKenzie from the University of Waterloo was involved in this EdSurge event where she, along with other US-based experts discussed the phenomenon, responses, and why framing academic misconduct as a teaching and learning issue is helpful.
To get more connected to national and international discussion of this issue
- Canadian Perspectives on Academic Integrity open journal https://journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/index.php/ai.
- Visit the International Center for Academic Integrity for resources like the Integrity Matters blog, International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating and resources.