Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Predicting Overall Ethical Climate, Student Retention, Cheating, Satisfaction with University, and Perceived Stress with Student Perceptions of Faculty Unethical Behavior

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Predicting Overall Ethical Climate, Student Retention, Cheating, Satisfaction with University, and Perceived Stress with Student Perceptions of Faculty Unethical Behavior

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

A survey of undergraduate business students at two state universities, one in the Midwest and one in the South, revealed a significant relationship between unethical faculty behavior and student cheating behavior. Faculty unethical behavior related to course requirements and classroom behavior were significantly related to student cheating behavior but not to student satisfaction with their university experience, or student retention. Faculty unethical social behavior (e.g., dating students) was significantly related to student retention. Finally, the results suggest that student cheating behavior may be a more important predictor of student perceptions of the overall ethical climate of their university than faculty unethical behavior.

INTRODUCTION

Student retention and cheating, as well as related issues such as student satisfaction and perceived stress, are receiving renewed attention in colleges and universities. There is some evidence which suggests student cheating behavior continues to be a significant problem in colleges and universities. In 1963, Bowers (1963) published the results of a survey of over 5,000 students on 99 campuses across the U.S. Student respondents were asked to describe their cheating behavior on exams and major written assignments. Seventy-five percent of the respondents admitted they had engaged in at least some form of cheating behavior (e.g., copying off another student during an exam, using "cheat sheets"). During the 1990-91 academic year, McCabe and Trevino (1993) surveyed over 6,000 students at 31 small to medium sized colleges and universities having highly selective admissions policies across the U.S. They found that sixty-seven percent of the respondents admitted engaging in at least one form of cheating. Both studies suggest that the "ethical climate" of the college or university may be an important determinant of student cheating.

In 1993, McCabe and Trevino (1996) surveyed 1,800 students at nine medium-sized to large state universities which had participated in the Bowers (1963) study. Sixty-three percent of the respondents admitted engaging in at least one form of cheating behavior. They also found that specific forms of cheating behavior, including copying from another student during an exam, helping another student to cheat, and using "crib notes" or "cheat sheets," had all increased substantially. They concluded that while the numbers of students who are cheating may not have increased over the years, the students who do cheat are cheating more often and in a wider variety of ways (McCabe & Bowers, 1994).

A number of factors have been related to college student retention/attrition including demographics, attitudes, opinions, experiences, values and faculty attitudes and behaviors (Porter, 2003-2004; Lundquist, Spalding & Landrum, 2002-2003; Glynn, Sauer & Miller, 2003; Reason, 2003). There is also some evidence that the ethical climate of a university impacts student retention. Schulte (2001) examined graduate student perceptions of ethical climate at a Midwestern metropolitan university and found that a positive ethical climate was important in the retention of graduate students. In a study of undergraduate students at a Midwestern metropolitan university, Schulte, Thompson, Hayes, Noble and Jacobs (2001) similarly found undergraduate perceptions of ethical climate to be related to student retention. Recently, Schnake, Fredenberger and Dumler (2004) found student perceptions of faculty unethical behavior were related to student satisfaction with their university experience which was, in turn, related to student retention. Further evidence of the link between the ethical climate of organizations and the ethical behavior of organizational members (e.g., lying, disobedience, and being an accomplice) is provided by Wimbush, Shepherd & Markham, (1997) and Peterson, (2002).

There has been surprisingly little research on the outcomes of student perceptions of faculty unethical behavior (Tabachnick, Keith-Spiegel & Pope, 1991; Keith-Spiegel, Tabachnick & Allen, 1993). …

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