This project: ‘Academic integrity strategies: positive, preventative & punitive’, will consider the growing problem of contract cheating.
The complex issues surrounding plagiarism continue to challenge HEIs worldwide.
While considerable work has been undertaken by the UoL, in our roles as Assessment Lead/Academic Integrity Lead, our initial discussions with Prof. Mitch Waterman (Chair of the Assessment Strategy Group), fellow AILs, LUU staff and Student Cases, confirm that there is still much to be done.
As Harper et al (2018) state, ‘teaching staff are integral to preventing and managing this emerging form of cheating, yet there has been little evidence-based research to inform changes to their practice’.
A preliminary survey of University of Leeds’ staff has revealed that there is very little understanding of this problem. Indeed, some colleagues wondered whether or not discussing contract cheating would ‘give students ideas’.
Current research suggests the opposite i.e. universities cannot ignore this problem and staff must discuss it with students.
Students also need to be made aware of the many problems involved in contract cheating, including blackmail.
We also need to consider the major factors contributing to this rise in contract cheating.
With that in mind our project would build upon some of the findings contained in the 2016 QAA Plagiarism in HE report which states that there is a ‘growing threat to UK higher education from custom essay writing services’ and ‘that there is no single solution and that…organisations…need to take action on a number of fronts’.
However, we also want to ensure that we consider ways to positively scaffold students so that they take a sense of pride in completing their own work.