Page 23 - Campus Technology, October/November 2018
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CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | October/November 2018
path of where that file was created.
Mays advised more frequent “lower-stakes assessments” to
replace courses that rely on a midterm, a final and a lone paper for grading. For example, the instructor might require multiple drafts. That prevents what he called “one-time transactions” with a contract cheating company. “If you’re doing it in steps, where you have multiple drafts to do, either the student is going to submit sub-par work for the drafts and then go buy the real essay — and you can obviously notice the difference in the quality — or they’re going to have to go back to the contract cheater for each draft.”
He also encouraged the use of tests that don’t reuse questions, either by scrambling their order or having multiple editions, and using time limits on test-taking. Then there’s the addition of “oral components,” which, if it’s an online course, may require video monitoring to make sure the student and not a proxy is making the recording.
Talking With Students
While contract cheaters tell prospects their approach is undetectable, Sutherland-Smith takes issue with that claim. A research team at her institution ran a pilot study in which “markers” were paid to read through a mix of “student work” to find out how accurate they were in detecting contract cheating. Seven people marked the same bundle of 20 second-year psychology assignments, including six that were
purchased from contract cheating websites. As the researchers noted, “Sensitivity analyses showed markers detected contract cheating 62 percent of the time. Specificity analyses showed markers correctly identified real student work 96 percent of the time.”
A follow-up study on a much wider group, awaiting publication, found similar results. “You can train markers to look for contract cheating and quite successfully detect it,” she said.
And that gets at the central message when it comes to cornering contract cheating. While the various mechanisms for cutting down on contract cheating certainly hobble the racket, ultimately, the best solution may require human intervention: a faculty member taking the time to talk with the student whose future could be at stake.
It doesn’t have to take long, she insisted. Even a three- minute conversation will divulge tons. She uses questions such as, “I’m really interested — that particular piece of literature seems to be a little out of left field. How did you come across that?” or “What drew you to that piece of literature?” or “Why did you think that fitted in with everything else that we’ve covered in class?” “They’re not difficult questions,” she pointed out, “but if you haven’t done the work, you’re not going to know the answer.”
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for Campus Technology.
Ultimately, the best solution may require human intervention: a faculty member taking the time to talk with the student whose future could be at stake.

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