Rowland, Slade, Wong and Whiting (2018) looked at what attracts students to websites offering to write their assignments for them (so called contract cheating websites). The authors found that contract cheating websites had similar features to a typical website for a hotel. They found differences with the contract cheating websites emphasizing quality: qualifications of their authors, quality of the results, security, price, timeliness, confidentiality and satisfaction. Rather than a hotel, perhaps the authors should have used a dating website for comparison, where more trust is required by the client.
The way for institutions to counter the attraction of contract cheating, I suggest, is to use similar marketing on student support websites. Institutions might want to set up, or sponsor, semi-independent help sites, so students feel it is not more of the same from the institution.
It would also be useful for institutions to design courses using on-line distance education techniques. The idea is to provide students a course in small increments, with feedback and support. This way a student sees what they have to do and receive small rewards, in the form of grades, for doing it. Students who do not do the small exercises on-time and to the required standard can be quickly identified by instructors and offered help, before a major hurdle is reached. This way a student will not be left languishing at the back of the class for most of a semester, then be tempted to cheat to pass a major assessment exercise.
The student who does try to cheat on a major assignment will be easier to identify as this will not be consistent with their past work. Students will know that their instructor knows, from the feedback they get and so they will know they are likely to be caught cheating. I use this approach in the course "ICT Sustainability".
Rowland, S., Slade, C., Wong, K. S., & Whiting, B. (2018). ‘Just turn to us’: the persuasive features of contract cheating websites. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 43(4), 652-665. URL https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2017.1391948
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