As universities engage in modernisation of their delivery and assessment methods, threats to the academic integrity of courses continue. This is particularly the case in the Computing discipline, where students arrive equipped with high level technical skills and the knowledge of a global marketplace where assignment solutions can be bought and sold online.
This research seminar will present the work of Thomas Lancaster and Robert Clarke into the murky underworld of contract cheating. This type of cheating occurs when students pay a third party to complete a piece of assessed work for them, which they then submit as original work for academic credit. Between 2005 and 2013, they have collected evidence of over 18,000 attempts by students to cheat their way through the courses, primarily through using legitimate outsourcing services such as freelancer.com. The seminar will overview eight years of research into contract cheating, providing examples and covering such areas as the extent of the problem and the solutions available to prevent and detect it. Special attention will be paid to issues associated with distance learning courses, such as those delivered by the Open University, where the attribution of contract cheating attempts has proven to be a particular issue.
Dr. Thomas Lancaster is a Senior Lecturer in Computing at Birmingham City University, where he has taught since 2003. Thomas also serves as a Programme Leader and manages key courses including BSc Computer Science. Thomas worked as a Research Assistant at London South Bank University between 2000 and 2003, examining the detection of plagiarism in student work, and also completed his PhD in that area. Since then, Thomas’ research interests have included such diverse areas as social media, employability and plagiarism detection, as well as the wider contract cheating field. Thomas regularly runs workshops on teaching related issues for the Higher Education Academy, and also talks about these topics for the media and presents at other events. More information about Thomas can be found at http://thomaslancaster.co.uk