Exploring the potential of authentic, programmatic assessment to minimise contract cheating

About the Project

‘Contract Cheating and Assessment Design: Exploring the Connection’ is an Australian Government Department of Education and Training Strategic Priority Project led by the University of South Australia. Partner institutions are the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, Griffith University, and Swansea University, UK.

Following the MyMaster contract cheating scandal which affected several prominent Australian universities, students utilising online cheat sites to complete their assignments has been identified as a significant problem for institutions. Although ‘authenticity’ has long been recognised as a core feature of good assessment practice, its role in nurturing academic integrity has not been adequately explored.

Conducted over two years (2016 – 2018), this national project determined if and how authentic assessment is used to assure academic integrity. The project focused on two critical stakeholders in academic integrity – students and teaching staff – and has analysed data from national surveys of these stakeholders. To further investigate the nature and scope of contract cheating, analysis was also conducted of a data set that demonstrated the types of assignments most commonly contracted out to third parties online, and two additional data sets of consisting of detected contract cheating breach cases at two Australian universities.

Findings from this project will enhance the sector’s understanding of this critical issue. Project deliverables aim to transform assessment practices by providing a conceptual model and resources that demonstrate the role of assessment design as one part of an over-reaching holistic approach to nurturing academic integrity in Australian higher education.