Contract fraud is an undesirable enterprise within college and university education. This form of cheating occurs when a student completes an assignment for them and then turns it in while writing it himself. This is a dangerous trend within education, as the student is earning academic credit, which can lead to an award, for work that they did not create themselves. This gives a false expectation about the abilities that the student will have when entering the workplace.
The good news is that the literature related to contract fraud contains many case studies and suggested methods that will help academics combat this growing problem. This article identifies three popular practical steps that can be used to reduce the impact of the contract cheat. They should be considered in light of the broader evaluation processes within this form of academic misconduct.
First. Steps should be taken to ensure that work is completed within the classroom whenever possible. This means that students cannot leave and finish their work elsewhere. This also allows academics to become familiar with their students and the work they are completing. When it is impossible to fully monitor this, checkpoints can be placed within the assessment so that student progress can be monitored in some other way.
Second, consideration should be given to the weighting of any work where contractual cheating is possible. It should be impossible for a student to pass a module based solely on the contract cheat. In many cases, this will mean that the courses will need to make up less than half of the work for a particular module. This can be supported by other forms of evaluation that are carried out under controlled conditions; These include exams, live shows, and presentations.
Of interest is a third method to consider when seeking to reduce the impact of contractual cheating. Attention has been paid to the use of honor codes, where students are required to inform other students that they believe they are cheating. With this method, students who do not report cheating they know are said to be just as guilty as the cheats themselves. When this method is plausible according to local testing regulations, it is worth considering further.
In short, the growing problems associated with contract fraud need careful attention within education to prevent it from reaching the broadest levels of student plagiarism. Course work should be laid out so that it can be completed in supervised sessions whenever possible. Weighting of work done outside of the classroom needs to be closely considered so that students can’t just pass in this way. The availability of honor codes should be investigated and used whenever possible. Only with such a multi-pronged approach can the impact of the contract trap be reduced.