Contract cheating - how best to raise student awareness?
Dear global colleagues,
I was just having a meeting with our student's union regarding an Academic Integrity/Study Smart week that we ran in November to raise students awareness about academic integrity and of the upcoming assessments which highlights the legitimate support available to students.
One of the issues we wanted to tackle was the use of contract cheating sites - i.e. students buying essays or other sorts of assignments from a company. This has been highlighted as a serious problem globally.
We identified that a significant % of students still didn't know what these sites were and hadn't heard of them.
SO, if we raise awareness about these sites and the dangers of using them, how do we do this without:
- Improving student awareness of the sites that then acts as a form of advertising for these services
- Provoking a knee-jerk reaction from the staff who then think the problem is worse than it is?
Many thanks in advance for your thoughts.
In Computer Science classes, most of our homeworks consist of computer programs. They are (yet) not easy to check for "originality". The Moss ( https://theory.stanford.edu/~aiken/moss/ ) system was acquired by TurnitIn (as far as I know), but it is yet to be integrated in the current online product. Our teams are using the free version of Moss to check the homeworks of our students for originality. However, the issue you raised, namely the buying of homeworks is _not_ going to be caught by any system, online/offline/dedicated or not. To this end, we decided to have our students present their homeworks live, not just submit their homeworks online. These presentations are going to be done in front of the entire class, and anybody can ask questions. If there is any doubt about authorship, the discussion will then move to a private session, with the main instructors of the lecture and of course the student. We feel that we must instill in our students the belief that buying a solution to an assigment is bad for their own education! They are losing by not solving the assignment themselves. Their diploma and the prestige of their institution is worth less because the quality of their education is worse if they are unable to solve the assignments given in any of the classes they have taken.
In our domain (CS), students know about these sites and practices, so we don't really have problem number 1 - we can't advertise what students are already aware of. I don't know how to handle problem number 2. However, I do think this problem is more widespread than we would all like to believe... This is why I feel we should instead try to change the attitude of all students towards this subject, by actively promoting academic integrity values in their entire community.