Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Using Giving Voice to Values to Improve Student Academic Integrity in Information Technology Contexts

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Using Giving Voice to Values to Improve Student Academic Integrity in Information Technology Contexts

Article excerpt


Cheating scandals at colleges and universities bring intense media attention and scrutiny. A number of institutions (e.g., University of North Carolina, Harvard, Stanford, Florida State University, The Ohio State University, and Dartmouth) have dealt with highly publicized failures related to cheating (Glum, 2014; Rivera, 2015; Vasilogambros, 2016). A number of the incidents included the use of technology and the Internet. Activities such as sharing answers for an online take-home exam, plagiarizing research papers, and having others complete work for an online class have been detected. Further, the problem is not limited to the students involved in these high-profile cheating scandals. Prior research shows that about 68% of undergraduates and 43% of graduate students admit to cheating (ICAI, 2015). This level of cheating creates questions about the value of the teaching and learning process inside higher education. Educators must jointly focus on the learning of students and maintaining the integrity of student work and assignment of grades. Not only must faculty remain current within their academic disciplines, they must also understand best practices for promoting academic integrity.

Interactions between individuals have changed with the introduction of the Internet into modern life. Townley and Parsell (2004) point out that the Internet is not simply a technological change that increases efficiency, but that the effects of it are more complex. They argue that the nature of communication and privacy are fundamentally changed. Interactions which once occurred face-to-face now occur through computers or phones causing users to "feel uninhibited and unconstrained by the usual social and ethical standards" (p. 271). Further, as people engage through the Internet, they operate with a feeling of independence. "Questions of community, responsibilities to others and binding norms of conduct fade into the background" (p.271).

The academic community is not immune to these changes. Hinman (2005) contends that the Internet has changed the ethics of the academic world, and vice versa, in important ways. To further analyze how academic integrity has changed in the information age, Hinman evaluated the effects by using the three categories of students first identified by Donald McCabe, a noted researcher on academic integrity. The first group consists of students who will never cheat or be dishonest in their academic work. The second group is comprised of students who cheat occasionally, while the third includes students who cheat habitually. The second group is the largest and the one most affected by the introduction of the Internet with its instant and continuous availability of resources. The students in this group may be tempted to cheat by the ease of using Internet-related technology. They might not have put in the effort to cheat when it would have taken more time and work to locate resources. The purpose of this research is to better understand student decision-making related to academic integrity scenarios that involve information technology.

This study uses a proven research tool, the multidimensional ethics scale (MES), to gain insight into student reasoning related to academic integrity scenarios that include IT. The MES associates the ethical decisions of subjects with the ethical theory used to make the decision. The MES results give insight into both the decision and the reasoning used to make the final determination. The MES results are then incorporated into materials that can be used by instructors to discuss ethical behavior in class.

The materials are created in the framework of the ethics pedagogy, Giving Voice to Values (GVV) (Gentile, 2010). This approach to teaching ethics emphasizes the actions necessary to carry out ethical decisions. Students are asked to identify common rationalizations for not voicing their values and then learn to combat those rationalizations with levers or arguments that support acting with integrity. …

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