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Contract Cheating

What is Contract Cheating?

Contract cheating is when a student or academic candidate will contract with (pay) an online storefront or individual freelancer who completes their academic work for them. There are varying depths this can go to, ranging from writing papers to physically attempting to take an online examination.

recent article published by EdSurge highlights how prevalent Contract Cheating services are. No longer does a student need to browse the deep web to find a stand-in for their academic work, these services are being directly marketed to students similar to mainstream consumer goods and services that you are familiar with seeing while browsing less nefarious or commonly used websites. Recently, a professor we work with at ProctorFree shared a story from their past where a freelancer was upset due to lack of payment from a student and contacted them directly to let them know they had been completing coursework for one of their students. This can put faculty in an incredibly uncomfortable situation having to engage with these services, the student, and their administration. We’re not going to link directly to these any of these services as we don’t want to give them any added notoriety. Simply put, they need to go away but will likely remain persistent for years to come. According to the article published by EdSurge, coordinated services and freelancers have evolved their targeting efforts to a range of options including:

  • Harvesting student emails to make direct pitches
  • Creating fake “study groups” for specific classes
  • Using pop-up chat sessions on websites
  • Hosting social gatherings on campuses (less common)

So, what can you do about it? Collectively, we can continue to hold ourselves to a higher standard and acknowledge that these nefarious services exist. Next, as an institution you can layer in best practices such as clear guidance for what is and isn’t allowed, prompting students to opt into an honor statement, time limits for assessments, randomization of questions and answers, test item banking, identity verification, and proctoring tools to deter this behavior. It’s a safe assumption that if a student is willing to use a contract cheating service for written assessments, that they are also likely to attempt to circumvent the rules of a quiz, mid-term, or final exam.

ProctorFree doesn’t get excited about catching someone who may have been cheating. While it’s an unfortunate thing that happens in our line of work, as a company we are focused on the global delivery of education and measurement of knowledge. We take our role seriously in provided on-demand identity management and virtual proctoring services to higher education and commercial clients around the world.

We look forward to tracking this series by Jeff Young and sharing our thoughts with you as he dives deeper into the realm of contract cheating.

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