Business School Deans on Student Academic Dishonesty: A Survey

Article excerpt

While students and, to a lesser extent, faculty have been surveyed about the student academic dishonesty issue, deans have been virtually ignored. This paper reports the results of an online survey of business school deans on the issue. Deans' perceptions of the level of student academic dishonesty in their schools were much lower than the levels that have been generally reported in student surveys. Further more, only about 5 percent of deans believed dishonesty was a serious problem in their school. Business school ethics requirements and administration of policies related to academic misconduct are also reported. Four specific actions are discussed that the survey suggests could make a contribution toward solving the student academic dishonesty problem.

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Student academic dishonesty has been recognized as a problem in U. S. colleges and universities for many years. Much of what is known about the issue comes from an extensive literature that reports the results of surveys of students on the topic. An extensive review of this literature is not warranted here, but Table 1 presents the author(s), year of publication, respondent major, and the percent of respondents reporting participation in dishonest academic behavior for several studies that we believe are typical, spanning nearly four decades. The percentage of students admitting participation is alarming, ranging from a low of 49% for students in undergraduate marketing classes in 1988 to 100% for undergraduate management majors in 2008.

Another population that has been surveyed about the student academic dishonesty issue is faculty. However, the literature on this constituency is not nearly as extensive as the student survey literature. While the student studies have tended to focus on the level of dishonesty, the faculty studies have focused more on perceptions of and attitudes toward the issue. Some examples of faculty surveys are: Campbell, 2006; Hard, Conway, and Moran, 2006; Keith-Speigel, Tabachnick, Whitley, and Washburn, 1998; Koljatic and Silva, 2002; Pincus and Schmelkin, 2003; and Volpe, Davidson, and Bell, 2008.

The missing link in what is known about student academic dishonesty appears to be at the administrative level. One possible reason that instructors tend to ignore cheating (Keith-Spiegel et al. 1998) is that administrators, and especially deans, have not given it a high priority. A search of several electronic data bases yielded only one survey of deans on an issue related to the student dishonesty problem ("More Emphasis," 2007). Deans and directors at 50 prominent business schools worldwide were surveyed about several ethical issues. Emphasis on ethics was generally increasing. A 500 percent increase in the number of stand alone ethics courses was reported, while 25 percent of these schools required that their students take such a course. Sixty-five percent of the schools had centers devoted to ethical issues. This article makes a contribution to filling this gap in our knowledge. It reports the results of an on-line survey of business school deans on the issue of student academic dishonesty.

Methodology

A questionnaire was developed that asked business school deans to indicate their perceptions of various aspects of student academic dishonesty at their schools, their schools' policies on the issue, and selected school characteristics. The questionnaire was emailed to deans using the addresses included in the August 2007 Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) Membership Directory. The questionnaire was sent to 555 U. S. business school deans during the Spring 2008 semester, with one follow-up reminder. One hundred seventy-seven deans responded for a response rate of 31.8%.

A large majority of the deans who responded were at universities (86.2%) rather than colleges (13.8%). A smaller majority of respondents were from public institutions (59.2%), versus private (40. …

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