According to a 2017 study on cheating websites, commercial providers rely on persuasive marketing techniques.They often repackage an unethical choice in the guise of professional help for students who are weighed down by a demanding workload.One key problem for overhauling assessment design is the troubling proliferation of casual labour in universities.
In recent years, several scholars have explored the legality of contract cheating, along with the possibilities of defining a new offence under criminal law of providing or advertising contract cheating.
In 2011, for example, a law was introduced in New Zealand that makes it a criminal offence to provide or advertise cheating services.
Yet the criminalisation of such services leads inevitably to the prosecution of cheating students, something the legal system has so far been reluctant to do.
But even discounting the possibility of legal action, plagiarism has hefty consequences for university students under misconduct policies, including revoking course credits, expulsion, and a permanent record of cheating.
Redesigning assessments is the primary way to tackle the growing problem of contract cheating.
Recent suggestions focus on the development of authentic assessments: tasks that more closely mirror the real-world demands students will face after they graduate from university.
A recent study on contract cheating in Australia concluded that the over-representation of non-native English speaking students in cheating surveys is linked to the failure of universities to provide support for language and learning development.
Students are tasked with completing assessments for which they lack the basic English language skills.
Rather than simply completing an essay, for example, a history student might be tasked with interviewing a local non-profit organisation, and producing a podcast episode.
Teachers who use authentic assessments hope to reduce cheating by tying learning to student’s hopes for their futures, but one obvious benefit is the difficulty of cheating in such individualised tasks.