Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Using the Business Fraud Triangle to Predict Academic Dishonesty among Business Students

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Using the Business Fraud Triangle to Predict Academic Dishonesty among Business Students

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Crib notes, paper mills, cell phones, copying and pasting from the Internet, hand signals during exams, copying homework-the ways in which students engage in academically dishonest behaviors are numerous, and research suggests that most students cheat at some point in their college careers. In addition, some studies indicate that business students are more likely to cheat than students in other disciplines.

Much research has been conducted to determine the prevalence of academic dishonesty and to discover characteristics of those who engage in academic dishonesty. Less research attempts to develop a general model for understanding underlying motives or predispositions for engaging in this behavior. Such a model may assist faculty with efforts to reduce or eliminate academic dishonesty.

Our study develops and tests a model of student cheating that is derived from a model of dishonest behavior in business: the fraud triangle. Participants in this study were 476 business students. The study showed that each of the elements of the fraud triangle-incentive, rationalization and opportunity-is a significant determinant of student cheating. We also analyzed the results for impacts related to student GPA, student gender, hours spent working per week, student age, and frequency of partying behavior. Results show that age and frequency of partying were also significant determinants of student cheating. Implications for faculty are discussed.

INTRODUCTION

Crib notes, paper mills, cell phones, copying and pasting from the Internet, hand signals during an exam, copying homework-the ways in which students engage in academic misconduct are numerous. For the purpose of this study, academic misconduct, cheating, or dishonesty refers to any instance in which a student claims credit for the work or efforts of another without authorization or citation. Examples commonly listed on college and university Web sites include using unauthorized material or fabricated data in academic exercises, forging or falsifying academic documents or records, intentionally impeding or damaging the academic work of others, engaging in conduct aimed at making false representation of a student's academic performance, or assisting other students in any of these acts.

Research suggests that most students cheat at some point in their college careers, some as frequently as once or twice a semester (Hollinger & Lanza-Kaduce, 1999). McCabe and Trevino (1996) found that 66% of students at several prestigious colleges and universities reported cheating, and at state colleges and universities 70% reported cheating on tests and 84% reported cheating on homework assignments. Thus, the prevalence of academic dishonesty is well documented.

Previous research has been conducted to discover characteristics of students who engage in academic dishonesty; they are thought to tend toward some common characteristics. Few studies have attempted to develop general models for understanding underlying motives or predispositions for this behavior. Such models may assist faculty with efforts to detect or prevent academic dishonesty.

This study examines the academic dishonesty of business students. A model of student dishonesty based on the business model of the fraud triangle is developed and tested. We hypothesize a relationship between academic dishonesty (a type of fraud) and the incentive to cheat (e.g., to get a better grade), the opportunity to cheat (e.g., faculty do not deter cheating) and the ability to rationalize cheating (e.g., penalties are not severe so faculty don't care about cheating). The purpose of our study is to determine whether these dimensions (incentive, opportunity, and rationalization) help explain business students' attitudes toward and participation in academic dishonesty.

Faculty who know specific factors that lead to cheating will be better able to prevent and detect academic dishonesty. …

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