Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Cheating in Higher Education: The Case of Multi-Methods Cheaters

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Cheating in Higher Education: The Case of Multi-Methods Cheaters

Article excerpt


Cheating in academia has been the focus of several studies, mainly trying to determine how often students cheat. This paper examines a different approach, as we not only surveyed the level of cheating occurring in university setting, but also focus on ascertaining whether or not students are willing to cheat their way to a degree by using multiple ways of cheating throughout their college years. We used a survey presenting 16 different scenarios that was submitted to students asking them whether the action of the fictional students in the scenario constituted cheating or not. The analysis of the results showed that cheating does occur in college and that a certain number of students do use several methods of cheating while trying to earn their degree.

Keyword: Academic dishonesty, Higher Education.


In the academic world, a major problem exists. That issue is 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, determining how many students cheat is difficult to figure out precisely as most data comes 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 of how many students engage in academic dishonesty. 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 at top universities. McCabe and Trevino (1997) reported a range of 13% to 95 % of students cheated at one point during their academic career. In his 2005 study McCabe reported that 70% of the 50,000 undergraduate students surveyed from 2002 to 2005 had cheated; the data was gathered from over 60 campuses nationwide. In his research Park (2003) advanced that a minimum of 50% of students are cheating. Other 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 number of students engaging in academic dishonesty was from 9% to 95% across the different samples. The mean across the samples was 70.4%). This mean is similar to the number found by Kidwell, Wozniak, and Laurel in their 2003 study, where students self-reported any academic dishonest activity that they had participated in more than once. According to that measure 74.5% of students are cheaters. Those who only cheated once were not included because they are less of a threat to the academic community. Furthermore, students also reported to more frequently cheating in forms that they considered less serious such as collaboration and plagiarism of small excerpts.

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, Mclnerney, 2008, Josien and Seeley, 2012). Indeed, Brown and Mclnerney 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 (201 1) found that 92 % of her students surveyed indicated that they had or they knew someone that cheated. Finally, Mason (2006) also report an increase in cheating, reported to be as occurring frequently to very frequently by 61. …

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