Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The New Economy of Cheating #SXSWedu

The New Economy of Cheating

SXSWedu 2017 Panel

Today’s college student has more ways than ever to cheat. A simple online search turns up hundreds of websites that promise quick turnarounds and guaranteed A's on research papers and one-off assignments. Savvy students can subscribe to sites that post notes, quizzes, and exams for thousands of classes. And, if they pay a little more money, they can have somone take their entire class for them. The sites are part of a booming business that is operating right under the nose of colleges. In this session, two experts who have tracked the industry’s rise examine the shady operators, their threat to higher education and what can be done to stop them.


How College Students Cheat

  • Contract cheating is HUGE and a lot of money is made off of it.
  • People who work for these companies get about half of the fees that are paid for the purchased papers.
  • You can pay people to take entire online classes for you.
  • Ultius - Custom writing, editing, business writing - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxkVzWAP218
  • Craig's List is also a popular resource for writing services. 
  • UneemployedProfessors.com
  • The best sites promise the grades you want. If you're a C student, you don't want to turn in A and B papers.
  • Contract cheating companies help students rationalize the cheating.
  • Cheating is often spontaneous. 
  • People under report cheating, so it's difficult to get good statistics. 


How to Stop It? (I.E. Keep it to an acceptable level of corruption.)

  • Parents need to ask more than just "How are your grades?" Interact  with your kids on personal levels and ask them if they are enjoying themselves. Are they happy. What are they learning.
  • Instructors need to change the way they are teaching.
  • 17 states have legislation against these cheating companies. But no one has been charged with violating these laws to date.
  • Accreditors need to look at academic integrity as part of accreditation.
  • Universities need to find a way to screen applications better. Students who are successful using essays written for them to get into college will have a tendency to continue cheating.

Countering Contract Cheating
  • Assume good people making bad decisions due to stress or other factors
  • Keep talking about it!
  • Educate students on fairness, importance of learning, integrity.
  • Support students. If they are writing their papers at 2:00 AM? If so, is there support for them at this time? (Writing centers? Etc?)
  • Promote academic integrity. Cheating services market themselves. Foreign students might be led to believe this is the way things are done here. 
  • Design Assessments with Integrity. If we have quality teaching and learning, it will help mitigate the issue.
  • Do benchmark writings in class so you get to know student writing.
  • Are 20 page papers with APA citations necessary for most students? Are we still asking the same questions on the same topics that we asked decades ago?

The ultimate answer is about changing the way we teach and assess learning. What is best in ensuring quality teaching and learning?


Our society is built on a foundation of trust. We trust people to fix our cars, prepare our meals, operate on us. Say to a cheater, "There are a lot of dishonest people in the world. If we continue to allow this, we won't be able to function as a civilization. So these behaviors are not acceptable here in our community."

Employers need to begin measuring competencies when interviewing perspective employees.






*********************************************************************************All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.
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