Academic Dishonesty: An Educator's Guide

By Bernard E. Whitley Jr.; Patricia Keith-Spiegel | Go to book overview
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Academic Dishonesty: What Is
It and Why Do Students
Engage in It?

As shown in chapter 1, academic dishonesty is a pervasive problem that can have invidious effects on higher education and, therefore, should be of concern to all college and university students, teachers, and administrators. In this chapter we discuss the nature of academic dishonesty and its definitions, reasons students give for cheating, institutional and student characteristics associated with cheating, and the extent to which cheating actually leads to higher grades.


Academic dishonesty appears to be one of those phenomena that few people can define exactly, but that everyone can recognize when they see it. As Kibler (1993a) noted, “One of the most significant problems a review of the research on academic dishonesty reveals is the absence of a generally accepted definition” (p. 253). In this section we present a typology of academic dishonesty, examine faculty members' and students' views of what behaviors are and are not dishonest, and briefly consider the issue of possible cultural differences in definitions of cheating and plagiarism.

A Typology of Academic Dishonesty

One of the more widely cited definitions of academic dishonesty is that devised by Pavela (1978), who proposed a typology consisting of four components:


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