What's new with academic integrity in 2017 and early 2018?
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Essay mills have created a huge controversy in the academic world about three years ago. Obviously, the academic fraud didn't start there, it's been circulating around the world and the web for a long while now. But it's only been a couple of years that the controversy gained popularity.
Let's see what's new on the market concerning the issue of academic integrity.
The universities finally came to what they do best: science. The University of Sydney, in collaboration with Griffith University, has launched a Contract Cheating and Assessment Design project to create a new assessment method immune to cheating. So far, the initial results have revealed that no type of assignment is immune to cheating, be it a paper, test, pop-quiz or even a dissertation. Obviously, there’re numerous options for cheating that match every type of assignment. Dig a bit into the Internet and you’ll find a pirate bay of illegal jewels: from services that takes care of homework and essays, to people that actually shows up to your classes and exams. Interesting thing is that most of these types of scams happen online; true, this kind of thing is hard to pull off in a real-life classroom.
To respond to this specific threat, Boston University and Yale are producing software that eliminates cheating in online classrooms. Part of it is changing the identification system for logging in. Given the popularity of online courses, this helps to ensure that “online credit” isn’t an empty word and an online degree carries value.
Brock University also took a proactive approach. It launched a contest for students to create an icon representing the concept of academic integrity, and vote for the best one. Bringing integrity back into fashion could actually work to make tables turn.
College of DuPage made its own input into popularization of cheating-and-integrity discourse by holding a small-scale research and publishing the results in form of an infographic. The popularity of this particular infographic didn’t blow up the Internet, but it’s still quite interesting to look at. Most importantly, it gathers the kind of “informal” ideas that real students hold towards cheating in different academic contexts.
Not everyone believes in precautions and mild influence on students’ mindset; some facilities have added more to the rules regulating students’ use of any type of outside help, including editors. The University of Victoria explains their decision to apply more control by referring to pedagogical goals that homework and other assignments are meant to achieve. When edited, the spokesperson says, the works don’t carry the imprint of student’s genuine understanding of the subject. The University of North Hampton is including an academic integrity program into their curriculum. In course of this program, students learn the different facets of cheating, and the options they have available in the situations, when cheating seems appealing. According to the university representatives, there’s also a human factor involved - the academic integrity study groups work a lot like support groups for every student.
The industry strongly associated with academic fraud, namely essay writing services, seems to be creeping out of shadows. It's not being legalized, quite the contrary. It's being dissected, researched and fought against in the most civilized manner. Which seems quite refreshing, given that, before that, this industry wasn't much talked about, similar to porn, gambling and pharmacy. Now it's being dragged from the shade into the sunlight. The approaches to shedding light on it differ heavily though: they range from contributing affordable papers services reviews to the open Internet sources to holding conferences to define the problem and exchange experience adopting a holistic approach.