Academic journal article College Student Journal

Fraternities, Sororities, and Academic Dishonesty

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Fraternities, Sororities, and Academic Dishonesty

Article excerpt

Numerous studies have documented high rates of cheating among college students, especially members of fraternities and sororities. This study examines the relationship between membership in a fraternity or sorority and the frequency of academic dishonesty in a sample of 244 undergraduate students. Findings revealed that (1) members of fraternities and sororities reported higher rates of academic dishonesty as compared to non-members, and (2) the degree of involvement in fraternity or sorority sponsored activities was positively associated with academic dishonesty. Implications of these findings on future research and institutional policies addressing rates of academic dishonesty are discussed.

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High rates of academic dishonesty among college students, especially members of fraternities and sororities; has gained the attention of researchers and academic administrators (Haines, Diekhoff, LaBeff, & Clark, 1986; Zimmerman, 1999). Academic dishonesty has traditionally been defined as the act of giving or receiving unauthorized assistance in an academic task or receiving credit for plagiarized work (Kibler, Nuss, Paterson, & Pavela, 1988). Surprisingly, however, few studies have been published examining the association between membership in a fraternal organization and cheating. The purpose of the present investigation is to examine the relationship between the degree of involvement in a fraternity or sorority, and academic dishonesty.

Research on fraternal organizations has primarily been confined to investigations about sexual aggression and substance use (Humphrey & Kahn, 2000). To date, little empirical research has been conducted examining academic dishonesty in fraternity and sorority members. Within the existing literature, a positive association has been consistently found: Haines et al. (1986), for example, found a positive correlation between fraternal membership and cheating. Similarly, Stannord and Bowers (1970) found higher rates of academic dishonesty in members of fraternities and sororities as compared to non-members. While these studies represent important steps towards understanding this relationship, they are limited to the extent that fraternal membership is assessed as a dichotomous variable. In other words, these studies fail to answer the question as to if varying degrees of involvement in a fraternal organization are differentially associated with rates of academic dishonesty.

The purposes of this study were: (1) to examine if self-reported academic dishonesty in fraternities and sororities differs from the levels reported by non-members, and (2) to determine the relationship between the degree of participation in a fraternal organization and academic dishonesty. Given previous findings, we expect to find a positive relationship between the degree of fraternal involvement and academic dishonesty, as well as higher rates of reported academic dishonesty in members of fraternities and sororities.

Method

Participants

Participants were 244 undergraduate college students at the University of Florida. Of the participants, the mean age was 20 years 8 months for the total sample (SD = 16 months), 20 years 6 months for members of a fraternal organization (SD = 12 months), and 20 years 8 months for non-members (SD = 18 months). See Table 1 for the gender and ethnic composition of the sample.

Procedure

An independent examiner who was blind to membership status administered questionnaires to all students in six randomly chosen classes. These courses had no prerequisites for enrollment, were open to students of all majors, and satisfied elective credit and graduation requirements.

Measures

Ten questions were used to assess the frequency with which college students engaged in academic dishonesty. How often the participant copied other students' materials was assessed with three items (e. …

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