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Understanding cheating

Dr Ann Rogerson
School of Management, Operations and Marketing

Identifying strategies and tactics to help students and institutions develop better educational outcomes

Dr Ann Rogerson, in a previous life, worked in operations and human resources management within the travel and airline sector. The experience gave her some insight into how and why people to do what they do. It also piqued her interest in the psychology of motivation and drive.

When she decided on a career change and elected to move into academia, Dr Rogerson wanted to satisfy her curiosity and the behaviour of her post-graduate business students became a source of intrigue.

Then, in 2012, after observing irregularities in student work, Dr Rogerson was prompted to dig deeper into research related to academic integrity. A large number of unusual patterns and anomalies were identified in the 2012 cohort of students, which eventually led to a series of interviews to discuss the issues observed, and to differentiate between poor student scholarship and attempts to cheat.

The findings from the interviews facilitated the identification of later cases of academic misconduct. Keen to clarify and document the patterns, Dr Rogerson sensed a research opportunity to inform teaching and learning practice.

Through her research, Dr Rogerson discovered patterns in submissions noted as containing non-original material that are not necessarily flagged by text-matching tools such as Turnitin®. A further link between free online paraphrasing tools and their implications in supporting contract cheating practices was established. The studies prompted the need for work into broadening an understanding of some of the methods students use to cheat, including free online devices, as well as ways in which cheating can be detected.

Dr Rogerson’s work was picked up by several industry publications, academic texts and other media outlets domestically and internationally. High public engagement with her material led to extensive discussions across all levels of education, even prompting a re-examination of scientific outputs by agencies such as NASA. The impact is ongoing and has led to a change in practices through the training of education professionals in detecting cheating, and refining assessment design, globally.

In recognition of her work, Dr Rogerson was invited onto the international scientific panel for the Plagiarism across Europe and Beyond 2018 conference. She was one of only two Australians accorded the honour. Dr Rogerson has also won several awards, including a Global Innovation Award, for her commitment to academic integrity.

While Dr Rogerson’s work is receiving local, national, and international recognition, and is impacting policy and influencing approaches to assessment and the recognition of academic misconduct, her main aim is to inspire students.

“I want all students to embrace the opportunity to learn by providing support strategies to facilitate their acquisition of knowledge and skills that translate into lifelong learning practices,” she says.