Pearson What is the real reason students turn to cheating?

What is the real reason students turn to cheating?

What is the real reason students turn to cheating?

Issues of student cheating have been increasing over the years as more and more ‘help with homework’ sites have been accessible to students across the UK. A 2018 study by Swansea University found that as many as one in seven graduates had used contract cheating services to complete assignments. The switch to remote learning brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated these issues, and in 2020 the number of students outsourcing their coursework rose rapidly with usage figures for one of the most popular ‘help with homework’ websites increasing by 196%. In early 2021 there were contract cheating websites operating in the UK. 

In October 2021 The Department for Education announced that it would introduce an amendment to the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, that would make it a criminal offence to provide, arrange or advertise contract cheating services or ‘essay mills’. Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and some US states have taken similar steps. However, a recent study from the journal Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education revealed that students will still engage with third party homework services even when they believe they are breaking the law. These findings bring into question how effective legislation will be against contract cheating, and what can be done to prevent students seeking out alternative opportunities to outsource their work.

Why do students turn to contract cheating services? Students’ skills in academic writing, such as reports, essays and other written formal documents are becoming an increasing source of anxiety for them. In a Pearson HE learner survey from June 2020, 77% said they had struggled with their first assignments, partly owing to a lack of confidence in their academic skills as they step up to a university standard of working.  

Therefore, instead of viewing students who outsource their coursework as cheats who are undermining the value of academic performance, should we instead question why they are lacking confidence and turn to cheating in the first place – and what role do institutions play in this? 

Download Pearson’s latest report to take an in-depth look at the issue of academic writing, understand why students turn to ‘contract cheating’, and see how universities can take action to nurture their writing abilities with legitimate support and feedback, so they learn, gain confidence, and improve their own work.

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