Academic journal article Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues

Cheating: Students and Faculty's Perception on Potential Cheating Activity

Academic journal article Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues

Cheating: Students and Faculty's Perception on Potential Cheating Activity

Article excerpt


In the academic world, a cancer exists. That cancer has a name and is called cheating, Pullen, Ortloff, Casey, and Payne (2000) refers to it as the "bane of higher education" (p.616), and Moffatt advance that "the university at the undergraduate level sounds like a place where cheating comes almost as naturally as breathing, where it's an academic skill almost as important as reading, writing, and math" (in Whitley, 1998, p.2). However, how many students cheat is hard to precisely figure since most data come through self reporting and it is likely that students do not want to advertise their cheating, making measurement difficult.

Nevertheless, several studies tried to establish a baseline on how many students engage in deceitful activities. One of the first studies (Baird, 1980) found that 75.5% of undergraduates from several majors had cheated while in college. In 1992, Meade reported a rate of cheating of 87% in various majors in top universities. McCabe and Trevino (1997) reported a range of 13% to 95% of student whom at one point had cheated. In his research, Park (2003) advanced that a minimum of 50% of students are cheating, others studies put that percentage at 63% (Nonis and Swift, 1998) or even up to 75% (Kidwell, Wozniak, and Laurel, 2003; Chapman, Davis, Toy, and Wright, 2004). Moreover, Whitley (1998) reviewed 46 studies conducted from 1970 to 1996, the range of the numbers of students engaging in academic dishonesty was from 9% to 95% across the different samples. The mean across the samples was 70.4%.

Also, there is a developing body of evidence that academic dishonesty is increasing; with the increase in tuition, the advance in technology, and the increase in online class offerings, new ways to engage in academic dishonesty are available for potential cheaters (Born, 2003; Park, 2003; Scanlon, 2004; Eastman, Iyer, and Eastman, 2006; Brown, McInerney, 2008). Indeed, Brown and McInerney found significant increases in 7 of 16 cheating practices between a 1999 and a 2006 sample using the same questionnaire, with an average usage increase of these 7 practices of 19.2%. Finally, one of the latest studies confirms this trend, Jones (2011) found that 92% of her students surveyed indicated that they had or they knew someone that cheated.

The only conclusion that one can have is, therefore, that cheating does take place in higher education and that the number of participants is significantly high. This is a very important issue as Nonis and Swift (2001), based on the study of 1,051 business students, reported that the frequency of cheating in college was highly correlated with cheating at work. Also, Lawson (2004) found that business school students who cheat are more likely to be accepting of unethical workplace behavior and there is a growing body of evidence that a positive correlation between cheating while in college and behaving unethically while at work exists (Brown & Choong, 2005; Nonis & Swift, 2001; Sims, 1993; Hilbert, 1985).

In addition, academic dishonesty has several impacts on students that do not engage in cheating. First of all, many firms that engage in on-campus recruiting require a minimum grade point average for students who sign up for interviews. Thus, students who engage in academic dishonesty may gain an unfair advantage that goes well beyond the higher grade earned through cheating. GPA is also typically considered an important selection criterion for hiring purposes. Finally, another way in which peers of the cheaters may be harmed is the potential backlash and scrutiny that may be implemented once a cheater has been caught, as well as the potential for distrust and poorer interpersonal relationship between students and faculty.


Most studies on academic dishonesty focused on situational and individual factors that may contribute to cheating behavior (McCabe and Trevino, 1993, 1997; Straw, 2002; Eastman, Iyer, Eastman, 2006. …

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