Written by: Austin Hanes, director of Student Resolution and Conduct
As non-traditional learners, there are many things that vie for our time: work requirements, family commitments, personal responsibilities and sometimes just wanting a break. While these things are all respectable and necessary in order to lead fulfilling lives, they also have a way of taking our minds and attention off looming school responsibilities and thus taking valuable time away from focusing on our studies. During these times, it is easy to make compromising decisions when it comes to scholarly pursuits.
It has been done countless times: taken the question from our syllabus or assignment, pasted it into Google and searched to find what others are saying about the topic at hand. Typically, we find ourselves in this position after reading the question 20 times and staring at a blank sheet of paper, trying to contrive or formulate words to answer the given question. Unfortunately, there are a myriad of websites marketing themselves to students who find themselves in this predicament. These websites say they are there to help or provide “learning resources” and previous class documents to use as an aid in the composition of answers. They prey on your naïveté; they prey on your need for a way out; they prey on your desire to help others.
What these websites offer is something that higher education practitioners call contract cheating. In their research study “Contract Cheating & the Market in Essays,” Rigby, Burton, Balcombe, Bateman and Mulatu define contract cheating as “a specific form of cheating whereby students order an assignment of a given standard to be delivered in a given period at a fixed price” (2014). Price can vary from actual money exchange to the provision of previous course work in exchange for access to a database of course documents and question and answer forums.
Do not let these websites fool you; this is cheating and it is in direct violation of CSU’s Academic Integrity policy. Students submitting work taken from these websites are subject to sanctions outlined with the Academic Integrity and Code of Conduct policies.
What do you do if you find yourself in a tough position, down to the last minutes and staring at that blank document, unsure of how to move forward?
- Research the topic. The CSU Online Library is a great resource for students to use to gain a better understanding of the topic. We have librarians available 24/7 via phone and online chat.
- Talk to your professor. As faculty members are the subject matter expert on any given topic introduced within a course, your faculty member is able to help provide guidance and suggestions any time you hit a roadblock.
- Take a walk. Sometimes all you need for a little creative kick-start is a change of scenery. Whenever you find yourself thinking of a way to approach a topic, get up and take a walk around. Get some fresh air. This is a sure-fire way to give your creativity a boost.
- Success Center tutorials. The Success Center has created some great tutorials to aid students in being healthy, well-rounded learners. These tutorials would be great resources:
Academic integrity is something that we take incredibly seriously at CSU. We want to ensure that students earning a degree have earned it fairly and embody the values upon which CSU is built; first and foremost, integrity. We want to see you walk across the stage at graduation earning the prestigious honor of university graduate. Stay the course and take pride in the work you have completed and all of the obstacles you have overcome in order to attain your degree.
Rigby, D., Burton, M., Balcombe, K., Bateman, I., & Mulatu, A. (2014, December 26). Contract cheating & the market in essays. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 23-37.
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