As Google Translate gets better, does cheating via ‘backtranslation’ or ‘spinning’ become a bigger threat?


Want to get away with copy-paste plagiarism? In 2015, Jones & Sheridan published a paper about ‘backtranslation’, which is what happens when you translate some text from its original language (say, English) to another language (say, Spanish), then back to the original language. Doing this, they argued, would paraphrase the text so tools like Turnitin […]

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Free PDF: Can markers detect contract cheating? Results from a pilot study.

Can markers detect CC

Hot off the presses, here is a free PDF post-print of our latest article on contract cheating: Dawson, P., & Sutherland-Smith, W. (in press). Can markers detect contract cheating? Results from a pilot study. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. doi:10.1080/02602938.2017.1336746 Contract cheating is the purchasing of custom-made university assignments with the intention of submitting […]

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What makes for ineffective feedback?


The literature is filled with claims about what makes for effective feedback, for example, feedback that focuses on student self-regulation; feedback designs that require students to act on the comments they receive; and feedback that is timed so students can act on it. But what about what makes for ineffective feedback? This was a topic […]

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Reporting bias: why researchers don’t publish when innovative teaching approaches don’t work

There’s a lot of research about ‘what works’ in education. But what about ‘what doesn’t work’? In a recently published paper in Studies in Higher Education, we investigate a phenomenon called reporting bias, which the Cochrane Collaboration’s handbook defines as: Reporting biases arise when the dissemination of research findings is influenced by the nature and […]

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Some cognitive reasons why assessment improvement is hard – and what we can do about them

Improving assessment can be hard for a mix of pragmatic and pedagogical reasons. In new research just published, we extend those to include some psychological limits to assessment designers’ thinking and decision-making. You could think of this as the (abridged) Thinking Fast and Slow or Freakonomics of assessment design: Improving assessment tasks through addressing our […]

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