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Strategies to stop new types of contract cheating

Strategies to stop new types of contract cheating

What is contract cheating?

Contract cheating means using paid or unpaid third parties (people, services, or tools) to complete tests or assignments. In the past, it meant things like someone else writing your essay or getting answers from “homework help” sites like Chegg and Course Hero. 

Contract cheating is evolving. It now includes paid test-taking services that use remote access software to control a learner’s device and complete tests on their behalf. It also includes the misuse of AI tools like ChatGPT, which a March 2023 survey indicated is used by over 1 in 5 learners to complete exams and assignments.1

Detecting contract cheating… or preventing it?

Do you only want to detect that it happened or prevent it from happening altogether? Detecting cheating is a very different experience than preventing it altogether. 

For example, using tools to detect AI plagiarism in essays can be challenging. While those detection tools were moderately effective in the past, AI tools like ChatGPT don’t plagiarize and can be instructed to write just like humans, leading to false positives and overall accuracy issues.

And if those detection tools indicate that portions of an essay were AI-generated, what’s the threshold to take action? Should they take action when 1% of the essay is AI-generated? 25%? 50%? Regardless of percentage, if AI and plagiarism detection tools aren’t accurate and they’re easy to beat, you’ll have an uphill battle.

So, why try to detect that contract cheating happened when you can prevent it from happening at all?

The rest of this article shows you how to use online proctoring software to stop contract cheating (and other types of cheating).

Here’s how to prevent different types of contract cheating:

1. Paying a test-taking service that uses remote access software to take the test for the person getting credit

Have you ever had an issue on your computer and a support technician remotely accessed your computer to fix it? That’s basically how this form of contract cheating happens.

The person getting credit pays a proxy test-taking service to have a subject matter expert remotely access their desktop and take the test for them.

This type of cheating can be difficult to catch because the person getting credit is still on camera while the subject matter expert has control of their desktop and completes the test for them. Because the person getting credit stays on screen, ID verification methods won’t be able to stop this form of contract cheating.

Here’s how Honorlock’s online exam proctoring software beats this form of cheating:

Displaying countries of test: Honorlock’s platform shows the countries where tests were taken based on IP address. If there’s a trend of tests taken in countries with no known test takers, it might indicate the use of proxy test-taking services, prompting further investigation.

Blocking applications: Certain settings within Honorlock’s proctoring platform can be used to block remote access applications.

Requiring keyboard commands before starting the test while recording the screen: Instructions, or even the first test question, can require test takers to use keyboard commands, such as Ctrl+Alt+Del (Windows) or Cmd+Opt+Esc (Mac), to display the applications and processes running on the device. Honorlock’s software also records desktops, allowing exam administrators to review the recording if there’s any suspicion that someone else took the test on the test taker’s behalf.

2. Using AI tools like ChatGPT

Using AI tools like ChatGPT without permission is considered contract cheating because it still involves the use of a third party and isn’t the person’s original work.

ChatGPT generates written responses and answers questions about basically any topic. With the right prompts, it can write just like a person, and AI or plagiarism detection software can’t really catch them.

Here’s how Honorlock’s remote proctoring software helps block and control AI tools:

Detects cell phones and browser extensions: Honorlock’s proctoring software can detect when test takers try to look up answers on their cell phonesas well as device-sharing applications like Apple Handoff.

Listens for voices (not just sounds) to ensure there’s no help from Siri or other voice assistants: Honorlock’s Smart Voice Detection listens for keywords and phrases like “Hey Siri” and “Alexa,” which could be used in addition to voice dictation to operate ChatGPT on another device.

Blocks access to other sites and disables keyboard shortcuts: With Honorlock’s BrowserGuard™, learners won’t be able to access sites like ChatGPT or copy text beforehand and paste it as their own. 

Uses the webcam to monitor behavior and check the room for unauthorized devices and resources

3. Paying someone else to write their essay

To prevent this form of contract cheating, have learners write their essays while online proctoring is monitoring behavior.

Here’s how Honorlock can stop this form of contract cheating:

Verifies ID: Honorlock makes ID verification easy by capturing a picture of the test-taker and their photo ID in about 60 seconds.

Locks the browser while still allowing access to certain sites: This is important because there may be instances where you want the learner to have access to certain resources while they’re writing, like an online research journal, but still want to block all other sites.

Prevents copying and pasting: Honorlock’s BrowserGuard™ prevents keyboard shortcuts, which means they can’t copy text before they start the essay and paste it into their response.

Uses video to monitor behavior and check for unauthorized resources

In addition to the features mentioned earlier in this article, Honorlock also provides:

LMS integrations: Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, D2L Brightspace, and Intellum directly integrate with Honorlock’s online proctoring platform. We also provide a developer toolkit for custom integrations, giving you the power to create a tailored integration that meets your specific needs.

24/7/365 online exam proctoring with live support: Honorlock’s proctoring services and support are on-demand, which means exams can be taken anytime, day or night, and live support is available.

Test content protection: Search & Destroy™ finds leaked test content on the internet and gives exam admins the option to send one-click content takedown requests.

Third-party test proctoring: Allows seamless test proctoring on third-party platforms such as MyMathLab, Pearson, and more.

As contract cheating evolves and unfortunately grows, so should your strategies and technologies to beat it. Honorlock’s online proctoring software and services put you in control and keep you one step ahead of whatever comes next.

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1Half of College Students Say Using AI on Schoolwork Is Cheating or Plagiarism. (2023, March). BestColleges. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from https://www.bestcolleges.com/research/college-students-ai-tools-survey/