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Abstract and Figures

Academic integrity is an issue of critical importance to academic institutions and has been gaining increasing interest among scholars in the last few decades. This article discusses data obtained over the last three years from over 80,000 students and 12,000 faculty in the United States and Canada. While documenting that cheating on tests and exams and plagiarism are significant issues on our college and university campuses, it also offers some thoughts on possible strategies to encourage greater levels of academic integrity among students.
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Cheating among college and university students:
A North American perspective
Donald L. McCabe,
Rutgers University, USA
dmccabe@andromeda.rutgers.edu
Abstract
Academic integrity is an issue of critical importance to academic institutions
and has been gaining increasing interest among scholars in the last few
decades. This article discusses data obtained over the last three years from
over 80,000 students and 12,000 faculty in the United States and Canada.
While documenting that cheating on tests and exams and plagiarism are
significant issues on our college and university campuses, it also offers some
thoughts on possible strategies to encourage greater levels of academic
integrity among students.
Keywords: academic integrity, cheating, honor codes
Introduction
It is a privilege to write an article for the inaugural issue of the International Journal for Educational
Integrity. I have fond memories of making one of the keynote addresses at the first meeting of the Asia
Pacific Educational Integrity Conference in Adelaide in 2003 and I am truly pleased to know that the release
of this inaugural issue has been timed to coincide with the second APEI conference at the University of
Newcastle.
The most appealing aspect of writing this article is the goal of this new journal to highlight some of the many
issues related to questions of academic dishonesty that go beyond the difficult issue of plagiarism. While it is
impossible to engage in a meaningful discussion of student cheating without at least some mention of
plagiarism, it is my objective to focus on other forms of academic dishonesty as well and to discuss how
students perceive academic dishonesty in a more global sense. While I have extensive data to support such a
discussion, most of it has come from students in the United States (US) and Canada. Although there are a
few notable differences, the similarities in the data collected in the US and Canada suggest the basic lessons
to be learned are relevant to many countries in the Asia Pacific region, especially Australia and New Zealand.
However, this assumption lacks a strong empirical basis.
My Surveys
Although I have been surveying students and faculty since 1990, the data discussed here were collected
during the last three academic years using a web-based survey on 83 different campuses in the US (67
campuses) and Canada (16 campuses). While undergraduate students have provided most of this
information, I will also discuss the data provided by graduate students and faculty. Readers interested in
earlier phases of this ongoing project might be interested in one of the following articles: McCabe and
Trevino (1996) or McCabe, Trevino and Butterfield (2001, 2004).
Most of this data has been generated as part of the Academic Integrity Assessment Project conducted by the
Center for Academic Integrity at Duke University in the US. Schools participating in this project are trying
to get the ‘pulse’ of academic integrity on their campuses. In addition to assessing student and faculty
perceptions of the overall climate of academic integrity on a campus, the survey asks students to self-report
instances of academic dishonesty in which they have personally engaged. While self-report data is one of the
few ways to obtain a general picture of the cheating climate or culture on a campus, it raises significant issues
of possible response bias in the resulting data and, because of its potentially sensitive nature for some
students, many elect not to participate in the survey.
Typically, participating campuses send an email invitation to all undergraduate and graduate students inviting
them to complete a survey. Although it is almost impossible to generate accurate response rates since there is
no way of confirming how many students actually receive an invitation, it is clear the response rate is below
desired levels, averaging between 10% and 15% and varying from as little as 5% to 10% on some large
campuses to over 50% on a limited number of small, residential campuses. This contrasts with return rates in
the range of 25-30% for written surveys I have conducted. While I am confident that the data still provide a
reasonable relative indication of the level of academic dishonesty on different campuses, these low return
rates and potential response bias should be kept in mind when interpreting any survey results.
The good news associated with using web surveys is the ease with which one can accommodate larger
samples. And, as shown in Table 1, a large number of both students and faculty have participated in my
survey process over the last three years.
Table 1
Survey Participants – 2002 to 2005
_____________________________________________________
United States Canada Total
Students
Undergraduate 51,611 19,460 71,071
Graduate 9,080 2,199 11,279
Faculty 9,740 2,576 12,316
Teaching Assistants 710 1,037 1,747
_____________________________________________________
While response rates and response bias are of concern, clearly this is still a very rich database.
Academic Dishonesty
Tests and Examinations
In general, my survey has included six behaviors related to tests and examinations: copying from another
student on a test or exam with and without his/her knowledge; using unauthorised crib notes or cheat notes
during a test or exam; learning what will be on a test from someone who has taken it in an earlier period;
helping someone else cheat on a test or exam; and the use of a false or forged excuse to delay taking an
test/exam or submitting a written assignment, thus gaining more time to study or prepare an assignment
and/or being able to find out from someone who has taken a test what was on it, how difficult it was, or what
areas to focus on in their test preparation. (Although this behavior asked about delaying both tests/exams and
the submission of written work, it is discussed here since open-ended comments provided by students suggest
it may be a more common strategy with regard to delaying the taking of a test. But clearly some students use
false excuses to extend the due date on written assignments.) More recently, I have also added a question
that asks students about the inappropriate use of electronic devices (e.g., Palm Pilots and cell phones) to
obtain information during a test or exam. In addition to asking students whether they have engaged in any of
these behaviors in the past year, I also ask them to assess how serious they consider each behavior to be – not
cheating, trivial cheating, moderate cheating or serious cheating. I have addressed the same questions to
faculty, first asking them to think about the number of times they have actually observed any of these
behaviors during the last three years. And, as I did with students, I also ask faculty to assess the seriousness
of each of these behaviors. While some differences are observed in student behaviors between the United
States and Canada, among students at different types of schools (e.g., two year community colleges in the
US, four year liberal arts colleges and universities) and across such factors as choice of major, gender, age,
etc., for ease of presentation I will focus on aggregate findings and highlight the differences that seem most
important or interesting.
Table 2 presents the aggregate information for the frequency of different test and exam behaviors (student
self-reports of their own engagement in each behavior in the past year and faculty reports of the different
behaviors they have observed in one or more of their courses in the past three years).
Table 2
Cheating on Tests and Examinations*
____________________________________________________________________________
Undergraduates Grad Students Faculty
Learning what is on a test from
someone who has already taken it 33% 17% 35%
Using false excuse to delay taking test 16% 9% 49%
Copying from another student on a
test/exam without their knowledge 11% 4% 41%
Helping someone else cheat on test 10% 6% 29%
Copying from another student on a
test/exam with their knowledge 9% 3% 33%
Using unauthorised crib/cheat notes 8% 4% 26%
Using an electronic/digital device as an
unauthorised aid during a test/exam 5% 2% 11%
Note: Values represent % of students who have engaged in the behavior at least once in the past year or
faculty who have observed the behavior in a course in the last three years.
*N exceeds 64,000 responses for undergraduates, 9,700 for graduate students and 9,650 for faculty in all
cases except using an electronic/digital device. This question has only appeared on the most recent version of
my survey and N=18,177 for undergraduates, 4,618 for graduate students and 2,932 for faculty.
___________________________________________________________________________
Table 2 leads to several important conclusions. First, cheating on tests and exams among undergraduate
students is problematic on US and Canadian campuses, as roughly one in ten students admit to one or more
instances of copying, using crib notes and/or helping someone else to cheat on a test or exam. Indeed, if the
number of students who admit to any of these four offenses in the past year is calculated, it is evident that one
in five students (21%) has engaged in at least one of these serious forms of test or exam cheating. Second,
somewhat surprisingly in light of recent media stories to the contrary, the data in Table 2 suggest that the use
of electronic devices during tests and exams is modest. Although a result that suggests one in twenty students
admits to such behavior is still troubling, it is far below the levels suggested by many in the media. However,
in light of the issues of response bias and low return rates discussed earlier, the 5% figure probably
understates the actual problem and, since it is still a relatively new phenomenon, it is very possible there will
be some further growth in this behavior in the future. Third, one in seven students (16%) acknowledges s/he
has used a false excuse to delay taking an exam (or submitting a written assignment), sometimes with the
goal of simply getting more time to study or work but at least occasionally with the objective of learning what
was on the test before s/he has to take it. Even if the test or exam is not identical, students seem to feel
knowing the format of a test and basic areas to emphasize in their preparation is helpful. Indeed, a third of
students (33%) have obtained such ‘pretest’ information one or more times in the past year, although
typically by simply speaking to a peer who has taken the test in an earlier class period rather than actually
delaying the taking of their own exam. Fourth, while self-reported rates are typically half or less of reported
undergraduate rates, it is evident that graduate students are certainly not immune to cheating. One in ten
admits to one of the four more serious forms of cheating, 2% acknowledge using an electronic advice during
a test or exam, 9% have used a false excuse to delay taking an exam or submitting a written assignment and
17% have obtained information about a test from a peer who has taken it in an earlier period. Finally, as
might be expected, faculty report even higher levels of observed cheating, with one quarter to one half of
faculty respondents reporting an observation in every category of test/exam cheating, with the exception of
using an electronic device as an aid during a test or exam, which only 11% of faculty say they have observed.
Although the primary focus in this study is on aggregate results, as mentioned earlier, there are some notable
differences in selected results for different subgroups. For example, confirming findings of earlier phases of
this project (e.g., McCabe & Trevino, 1995), it has been found that undergraduates majoring in business self-
report among the highest levels of the more serious forms of test and exam cheating (copying from another,
using crib notes and helping another to cheat) – a mean self-reported rate of 26% for undergraduate business
students versus a mean of 20% for all other undergraduates. In addition, male undergraduates self-report
higher levels of more serious forms of test/exam cheating than females – 24% versus 20%. Finally, there are
some country differences between US and Canadian students on serious test and exam cheating. In
particular, significantly more US faculty (54%) versus Canadian faculty (45%) report observing such
cheating, a result that is supported by the greater number of US students (22%) versus Canadian students
(19%) that self-report serious test/exam cheating. The same trend can be seen among graduate students, but
the differences in this case are fairly trivial – 10% for US graduate students versus 9% for Canadian graduate
students.
Student and faculty perceptions of the seriousness of the different forms of test and examination cheating are
summarized in Table 3, where percentage of students and faculty who rate the specified behaviors as either
moderate or serious cheating (versus the choices of not cheating or trivial cheating) have been calculated.
Table 3
Perceived Seriousness of Different Behaviors Related to Test and Examinations
___________________________________________________________________________
Undergraduates Grad Students Faculty
Learning what is on a test from
someone who has already taken it 64% 79% 93%
Using false excuse to delay taking test 58% 67% 80%
Copying from another student on a
test/exam without their knowledge 92% 95% 98%
Helping someone else cheat on test 89% 93% 98%
Copying from another student on a
test/exam with their knowledge 91% 95% 99%
Using unauthorised crib/cheat notes 90% 93% 98%
Using unauthorized electronic device to
obtain information during test/exam 90% 93% 98%
Note: Values represent % of students and faculty who rate the behavior as moderate or serious
cheating versus choices of not cheating or trivial cheating.
_____________________________________________________________________________
The first obvious conclusion suggested by Table 3 is that the vast majority of students realize that copying
from another student on a test or exam, using unauthorised crib or cheat notes, helping someone else to cheat
on a test or exam and using an unauthorized electronic device to obtain information during a test or exam
constitute moderate or serious cheating. Indeed, slightly over 90% of undergraduates and 94% of graduate
students on average so rate each of these five behaviors although the previous data indicated that more than
one in five students self-report having engaged in one or more of these behaviors.
Such data may facilitate understanding of the potential difficulties of eliminating or significantly reducing
serious test cheating. Using unauthorised crib or cheat notes as a typical example, the undergraduate student
sample can be divided into two groups – those who acknowledge they have engaged in this behavior and
those who have not. How each of these groups rates the seriousness of using crib or cheat notes during a test
or exam can then be examined. As might be expected, a much higher percentage of the undergraduates who
have not engaged in this behavior (92%) rate it as moderate or serious cheating versus the lower rating (72%)
provided by those who acknowledge using crib notes. This seems to suggest two distinct challenges to any
efforts to reduce the inappropriate use of crib or cheat notes, or other forms of academic dishonesty. First,
there certainly is a need to develop strategies to educate students who use crib notes (or engage in other
serious forms of test/exam cheating) and do not believe this is an inappropriate behavior. This will not be
easy but perhaps the even greater challenge will be addressing what might be described as the more hardened
cheaters, those who use crib notes even though they seem to realize it is moderate or serious cheating. Based
on the many comments students have provided on their surveys, there are a number of factors involved in
such judgments, including a variety of situational factors. For example, student comments suggest that
cheating is greater, and they believe more justifiable, in courses where the faculty member tends to ignore
obvious incidents of cheating that occur (putting honest students at a disadvantage), where faculty recycle
exams and written assignments, in courses which students are required to take to fulfill a distribution
requirement but which, at least in the minds of students, have little relation or value to their intended major.
These issues will be returned to later.
Written Assignments
As worrisome as cheating on tests and examination may be, cheating on written work seems to occur even
more frequently, as suggested in Table 4.
It is clear from Table 4, that unauthorised collaboration, paraphrasing or copying a few phrases or sentences
from either a written or web source (‘cut and paste’ plagiarism) and fabricating or falsifying a bibliography
occur frequently, being reported by one quarter to one half of undergraduates and as many as one quarter of
graduate students. In addition, over two-thirds of faculty report they have observed cut and paste plagiarism.
At the other end of the spectrum – the four behaviors involving submitting work that is not your own – there
are much lower levels of engagement, but still not trivial. For example, if the four behaviors in which
students engage least frequently (turning in work copied from another, copying large sections of text from
written sources, turning in work done by another and downloading or otherwise obtaining a paper from a
term paper mill or website) are combined, it is clear that 16% of all undergraduate respondents and 8% of
responding graduate students report one or more of these behaviors in the past year. In contrast, a
surprisingly large number of faculty (79%) report they have observed one or more instances of these
behaviors in the last three years, driven in part by a perception that a large number of students (59%) have
copied material almost word for word from a written source without citation. While this behavior is intended
to capture larger scale plagiarism, it is possible that the perceived high level of student engagement reported
by faculty is driven by instances which students view as less egregious and place in the ‘cut and paste’
category.
Table 4
Cheating on Written Assignments*
__________________________________________________________________________
Undergraduates Grad Students Faculty
Working with others on an assignment
when asked for individual work 42% 26% 60%
Paraphrasing/copying few sentences from
written source without footnoting it 38% 25% 80%
Paraphrasing/copying few sentences from
Internet source without footnoting it 36% 24% 69%
Receiving unpermitted help from
someone on an assignment 24% 13% 44%
Fabricating/falsifying a bibliography 14% 7% 34%
Turning in work copied from another 8% 4% 38%
Copying material almost word for word
from a written source without citation 7% 4% 59%
Turning in work done by another 7% 3% 45%
Obtaining paper from term paper mill 3% 2% 29%
Note: Values represent % of students who have engaged in the behavior at least once in the past year or
faculty who have observed the behavior in a course in the last three years.
*N exceeds 63,700 responses for undergraduates, 9,250 for graduate students and 9,000 for faculty in all
cases.
_______________________________________________________________________
But the most interesting result in Table 4 may be the fact that undergraduates, graduate students and faculty
all report engaging in or observing slightly lower levels of internet plagiarism versus plagiarism from written
sources. Although this finding runs counter to recent media reports, it is a result I have observed consistently
in my surveys over the last four or five years. A partial explanation may be that there is some confusion in
the minds of students, and faculty, as to exactly what each question is seeking. For example, if a student
engages in ‘cut and paste’ plagiarism from a journal article via the web does s/he consider that to be
plagiarism from a written source (the original format of the source) or Internet plagiarism (the means of
access)? Another factor may be that while the web may offer a greater variety of easily accessed sources, an
increasing number of students suggest that, depending on the course and assignment, they are turning to
written sources which they believe may not be as easily detected through a Google search or plagiarism
detection software as something that comes directly from the web. Supporting these arguments to at least
some degree is the observation that almost two-thirds (62%) of undergraduates and 59% of graduate students
who report engaging in ‘cut and paste’ plagiarism at all, have engaged in such plagiarism from both written
and Internet sources. Twenty percent of undergraduates (and 22% of graduate students) who acknowledge
‘cut and paste’ plagiarism, report using written sources only and 18% of both undergraduate and graduate
students indicate they rely solely on the web.
Table 5
Perceived Seriousness of Different Behaviors Related to Written Work
___________________________________________________________________________
Undergraduates Grad Students Faculty
Working with others on an assignment
when asked for individual work 32% 54% 82%
Paraphrasing/copying few sentences from
written source without footnoting it 56% 68% 84%
Paraphrasing/copying few sentences from
Internet source without footnoting it 57% 68% 82%
Receiving unpermitted help from
someone on an assignment 44% 65% 85%
Fabricating/falsifying a bibliography 58% 74% 90%
Turning in work copied from another 88% 92% 98%
Copying material almost word for word
from a written source without citation 91% 94% 99%
Turning in work done by another 86% 93% 98%
Obtaining paper from term paper mill 89% 92% 98%
Note: Values represent percent of students and faculty who rate behavior as moderate or serious cheating
versus choices of not cheating or trivial cheating.
___________________________________________________________________________
As occurred with test and exam cheating, one of the most obvious conclusions from Table 5 is that the vast
majority of students realize that significant levels of plagiarism and turning in written work either copied
from or done by another student constitute moderate or serious cheating. Almost 90% of undergraduates and
92% or more of graduate students so rate each of these behaviors, as do 98% or more of faculty. Yet, as in
the case of test and exam cheating, this does not stop students from at least occasionally engaging in these
behaviors. As noted above, 16% of undergraduates and 8% of graduate students self-report having engaged
in one or more of these behaviors and, for the reasons suggested earlier, it can probably be assumed that the
actual level is higher than this.
But unlike cheating on tests and exams, in the case of written cheating there are two behaviors (unpermitted
collaboration or receiving unpermitted help on an assignment) which only a minority of students view as
moderate or serious cheating. Unpermitted collaboration is a particularly difficult issue as barely a majority
(53%) of even those undergraduates who apparently do not engage in such behavior do not do so because
they consider it moderate or serious cheating. With growing pressure from prospective employers on
universities to help students learn how to work together collaboratively, any faculty member who thinks
his/her simple admonitions to the contrary will prevent such collaboration is probably being naïve. In
addition, as an increasing number of students hold jobs to pay for their education and/or try to balance
extracurricular activities with the demands of their academic work, it becomes very easy for students to
justify collaborative efforts, especially on assignments they conclude have limited learning value or place
demands on students which they consider excessive.
Also troubling in Table 5 is the fact that over 40% of undergraduates and 30% of graduate students (and
almost 20% of faculty) are apparently not convinced that ‘cut and paste’ plagiarism is moderate or serious
cheating. Although it is not known whether the levels of ‘cut and paste’ plagiarism are high because students
don’t consider it cheating, or whether the number of students who perceive ‘cut and paste’ plagiarism as
cheating is so low because students are rationalizing their behavior, both scenarios are troubling and difficult
to address. However, before turning to possible strategies to address student cheating, it is important to first
consider cheating on other assignments.
Other Assignments
Although the data summarized in Table 6 suggest lower to moderate levels of cheating on other assignments,
student comments suggest this may be misleading. Even though students were provided the response option
of ‘Not relevant’ for each of the behaviors on the survey, the comments of many suggest they have answered
the questions on laboratory, computer and research data in the negative even when they have had no or very
limited opportunities to engage in these behaviors. Once again, even though these data are probably
understated, they are still troublesome. For example, one in five undergraduates (19%) suggests s/he has
falsified laboratory data and approximately one in ten indicate they have copied someone else’s computer
program or code (11%) or fabricated or falsified research data (8%). And if undergraduates majoring in
science are isolated, 31% report falsifying laboratory data. However, there is not a dramatically higher level
of students who acknowledge they have copied someone else’s computer program among computer science
majors - 15% versus 11%.
Table 6
Cheating on Other Assignments*
__________________________________________________________________________
Undergraduates Grad Students Faculty
Fabricating or falsifying lab data 19% 7% 21%
Copying someone else’s program in
a course requiring computer work 11% 7% 39%
Fabricating or falsifying research data 8% 4% 21%
Note: Values represent % of students who have engaged in the behavior at least once in the past year or
faculty who have observed the behavior in a course in the last three years.
*N exceeds 46,000 responses for undergraduates, 7,000 for graduate students and 4,250 for faculty in all
cases.
__________________________________________________________________________
The explanation for these fairly modest levels of self-reported cheating may be found in Table 7 which
suggests that, with the exception of undergraduate student ratings of fabricating or falsifying laboratory data,
a significant majority of students perceive these other behaviors to be moderate or serious cheating.
However, student comments suggest an even greater number of students would agree that fabricating or
falsifying laboratory data is moderate or serious cheating but that they are able, at least occasionally, to
justify such behavior on the basis of the poor equipment and facilities they are expected to use in their
laboratorys. Students talk about broken or damaged scales which are known to give incorrect weights in
chemistry experiments, laboratory instructors who refuse to replace needed materials that may have been
damaged or destroyed in the course of an experiment, and the need to share laboratory facilities with other
students, thus significantly limiting the amount of time a student has to complete his/her work. While it
could be argued that none of these problems justifies cheating, such problems do make it easier to understand
the behavior of some students.
Table 7
Perceived Seriousness of Different Behaviors Related to Other Assignments
__________________________________________________________________________
Undergraduates Grad Students Faculty
Fabricating or falsifying lab data 68% 86% 97%
Copying someone else’s program in
a course requiring computer work 83% 89% 97%
Fabricating or falsifying research data 80% 91% 98%
Note: Values represent % of students and faculty who rate the behavior as moderate or serious cheating
versus choices of not cheating or trivial cheating.
__________________________________________________________________________
What Next?
While these data may be interesting and informative, the major objective of my work over the last fifteen
years has been to help colleges and universities think about strategies to improve the climate of academic
integrity on their campuses. Although there clearly is a place for prevention and detection in any such
strategies, the primary emphasis of my work has been on ways in which campuses can promote integrity
among students. For me, reducing the level of cheating among students, while desirable, is not enough.
Rather, I am more interested in helping students learn to accept responsibility not only for their own behavior,
but also the well-being of the entire campus community. Many of the recommendations my colleagues and I
have offered in this regard have already been discussed in the literature and will only be briefly reviewed
here. Readers interested in greater detail may wish to consult one or more of the sources cited below. For
ease of discussion, I will organize these comments into two parts - strategies individual faculty members
might employ in their courses and institutional strategies, including the concept of honor codes.
Faculty Strategies to Promote Student Academic Integrity
It is clear that many faculty occasionally ignore incidents of suspected academic dishonesty in their courses.
In the surveys discussed here, 41% of faculty acknowledge having done so and the primary reason they offer
is the burden of proof required to prove a student has cheated. They frequently complain of cases where
‘obviously guilty’ students have been found not responsible. For many this is enough to convince them that it
is not worth pursuing suspected cases in the future unless they truly have a smoking gun. If they have not
had such an experience personally, they know a colleague who has. Unfortunately, such inaction in the face
of cheating leads to even higher levels of cheating as students quickly become aware of which faculty are not
likely to pursue cases of suspected cheating and their courses become targets for cheaters. This is why one of
the most fundamental recommendations my colleague Gary Pavela and I have suggested in developing a set
of principles of academic integrity for faculty is the need to respond to incidents of academic dishonesty
when they occur. As we suggest in our principles, “Faculty members who ignore or trivialize academic
dishonesty send the message that the core values of academic life aren’t worth enforcing” (McCabe & Pavela,
2004, p. 15). This not only emboldens students who are willing to cheat, but it creates a significant dilemma
for other students. In my surveys, one of the most common rationales that students offer for cheating is the
question of fairness. Students who claim they normally do not cheat feel they have no choice when a faculty
member makes little or no effort to prevent or respond to cheating. In the highly competitive market for top
grades, many students have convinced themselves that cheating is their only choice when faculty ‘let’ other
students cheat. In fact, several of the faculty principles that Pavela and I have suggested focus on reducing
opportunities for students to cheat, making expectations on tests and assignments clear for students and using
creative forms of assessment that challenge students and help to truly engage them in the learning process.
Although we are “both strong proponents of student leadership in promoting academic integrity… [we are
convinced that] faculty members have a critical role to play as well” (McCabe and Pavela, 2004, p. 12).
Indeed, one of the most obvious lessons I have learned from my research is the wisdom of a community-wide
approach to promoting academic integrity, with students and faculty exercising the primary responsibility.
With this thought in mind, I conclude with some comments about institutional strategies to promote academic
integrity.
Institutional Strategies to Promote Student Academic Integrity
Having attended a university with a traditional academic honor code as an undergraduate, I have always had a
bias toward honor code strategies. However, when I first surveyed students in this project in the fall of 1990,
I quickly learned that while honor codes may still be an effective strategy, they are not a panacea. See
McCabe andTrevino (1993) for a summary of this survey, as well as a detailed definition of traditional honor
codes – strategies that generally mandate unproctored exams, the use of some form of pledge that students are
asked to sign stating they have not cheated on a particular piece of academic work, a student majority on the
hearing board which hears cases of alleged cheating, and, on a declining number of campuses, a requirement
or expectation that students will report any peers they may see cheating. While self-reported levels of all
forms of cheating were lower on honor code campuses, this research yielded two important results. First,
while a campus honor code may have a significant impact on the peer culture, it is the peer culture itself
(student perceptions of how faculty and other students feel and behave with regard to academic integrity) that
appears to be the most significant factor in influencing the level of academic dishonesty. The second
important finding was that strong positive cultures of academic integrity have been achieved on campuses
without honor codes and some campuses with honor codes, typically where the tradition but not the reality
survives, have above average levels of academic dishonesty.
A number of campuses, especially the University of Maryland at College Park, have responded to such
findings about traditional honor codes by developing what have come to be called modified honor codes (see
McCabe & Pavela [2000] for a discussion of modified honor codes). While modified, these codes rest on a
strong student role in promoting and sustaining a positive culture of academic integrity, they also
acknowledge the reality of how difficult this can be on large campuses. In particular, most of the modified
codes being introduced on a growing number of campuses in the United States acknowledge the difficulty of
using unproctored exams in a class that might include hundreds of students and the very low probability that
students will report the cheating of their peers. So, while maintaining a student judiciary and a strong student
role in promoting integrity on campus, most modified codes do not mandate unproctored exams or the use of
a pledge. Rather, they often make these choices optional with the instructor. Instructors in large first and
second year classes are unlikely to utilize these options while faculty in upperclass courses may feel more
comfortable doing so with their typically smaller class sizes and students who are clearly interested in the
subject matter, since most are majors in the subject area of the course or a highly related discipline. Students
understand this is information they truly need to learn and many may have some prior, or anticipated future
relationship with the relevant faculty member – perhaps another course s/he teaches in the department or a
research relationship. Even on large campuses, at least some of the anonymity normally associated with large
campuses is diminished at the department level. Another difference often found between modified and
traditional academic honor codes is the type of sanctions employed. While many traditional codes have
strong penalties, modified codes generally place a greater emphasis on penalties which are aimed at
rehabilitation rather than punishment. Although strong punishments are available in modified honor codes,
and used for multiple or particularly egregious offenses, typically a student will receive some combination of
a warning, required attendance at an academic integrity seminar, probation and/or a grade penalty for a first
offense under a modified honor code. While campuses with modified codes may abhor cheating as much as
those with traditional codes, they see student cheating (at least a first offense) as a teachable moment.
But what traditional and modified honor codes have in common is a community-wide emphasis on the ideal
of academic integrity and an acknowledgement of the critical role students can and should play in strategies
to reduce cheating. Communicating to students that the institution cares about the issue seems to be an
important first step as some, and perhaps many, students have legitimate questions about the role of integrity
in today’s world. The constant flow of media reports about lapses in integrity among politicians, academics,
business people, and just about every other profession one can think of, can create the belief that everyone
cheats to get ahead and if you want to be competitive and thrive in today’s world, you’ll have to do the same.
Universities may provide our last chance to deliver a different message to young adults, and whether a
campus uses an honor code or another approach, the important thing is that each campus does something.
The optimal choice will depend heavily on the unique culture and tradition that exists on campus.
Don McCabe is a Professor of Management and Global Business at Rutgers University. He has done
extensive research on college cheating, surveying over 100,000 students in the U.S. and Canada. He has
also surveyed over 18,000 high school students. His work has been published widely in business, education
and sociology journals and he is founding president of the Center for Academic Integrity based at Duke
University.
References
McCabe, D.L., & Pavela, G. (2000). Some good news about academic integrity. Change, 33(5), 32-38.
McCabe, D.L., & Pavela, G. (2004). The [updated] principles of academic integrity. Change, 36(3), 10-15.
McCabe, D.L., & Trevino, L.K. (1993). Academic dishonesty: Honor codes and other contextual influences.
Journal of Higher Education, 64(5), 522-538.
McCabe, D.L., & Trevino, L.K. (1995). Cheating among business students: A challenge for business leaders
and educators. The Journal of Management Education, 19(2), 205-218.
McCabe, D.L., & Trevino, L.K. (1996). What we know about cheating in college: Longitudinal trends and
recent developments. Change, 28(1), 28-33.
McCabe, D.L., Trevino, L.K., & Butterfield, K.D. (2001). Cheating in academic institutions: A decade of
research. Ethics & Behavior, 11(3), 219-232.
McCabe, D.L., Trevino, L.K., & Butterfield, K.D. (2004). Academic integrity: How widespread are cheating
and plagiarism? In D.R. Karp & T. Allena (Eds.), Restorative justice on the college campus:
Promoting student growth, and responsibility, and reawakening the spirit of campus community.
Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, IL, 130-141.
... There is little consensus in the literature about the prevalence of contract cheating (Curtis & Clare, 2017;Lancaster & Clarke, 2008, 2014McCabe, 2005;Newton, 2018). In McCabe's study (2005), 7% of the undergraduate and 3% of graduate respondents reported turning in work that was done by another, whereas 3% of the undergraduate and 2% of the graduate students confirmed they had obtained paper from paper mills during the past year. ...
... Participants believed, even if noticed, no legislation was in force to punish those who did, or even make a distinction between those who commit and those who do not. The finding that disregarding cheating behaviors works as an added bonus for cheaters is not only in line with the findings of the studies conducted inside the country (Ahmadi., 2014;Ghazinoory et al., 2011;Kazemi & Asghri, 2020;Mahdavi Zafarghandi et al., 2012;Shahghasemi & Akhavan, 2015), but also with the studies in other countries (McCabe, 2005;Newton, 2018). Christensen Hughes and McCabe (2006) argue that institutional characteristics (administrators and faculty) play a major role in promoting academic integrity at the campus. ...
... Christensen Hughes and McCabe (2006) argue that institutional characteristics (administrators and faculty) play a major role in promoting academic integrity at the campus. Elsewhere, McCabe (2005) contends that the culture and tradition of the campus can play a pivotal role in sending the message of academic integrity to students. ...
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In our descriptive exploratory qualitative study, we investigated the issue of contract cheating in Iranian higher education contexts. Through our analysis, we provide insights into measures taken in Iran to prevent contract cheating and mitigate its effects. Our study analyses secondary data including scholarly articles, published media, and the country’s current policies. Results showed that more empirical primary data from which to draw definitive conclusions is needed, and as such, developing an evidence-based body of knowledge about the prevalence and characteristics of contract cheating in Iran remains a persistent call to action. Our analysis of scholarly studies (n = 102) and grey literature sources (n = 195) showed an overarching lack of university accountability; students’ motives for engaging in contract cheating; and lack of appropriate legislation were enabling factors. We conclude that Iran lags behind other countries with regards to what is known about contract cheating and how to address it; as such, we conclude with a call to action for increased supports for education; policy and legislation; and scholarship.
... La frecuencia con que atribuyeron estos actos a otras y otros estudiantes fue mayor (91% y 88%, respectivamente). Los resultados de las encuestas realizadas por McCabe (2005), entre 2002 y 2005, mostraron que 71 071 personas estudiantes subgraduadas y en 83 instituciones en los EE. UU. y de 16 en Canadá, 38% y 36%, respectivamente, parafrasearon o copiaron oraciones de una fuente escrita o de Internet, sin una nota al calce. ...
... Cerca del 53% del grupo de estudiantes admitió que habían parafraseado o usado ideas o palabras de otra persona o fuente sin indicar de dónde la obtuvieron, una o más veces desde que comenzaron a estudiar en la institución. A modo de referencia y sin la intención de confrontar o equipar otras investigaciones y considerando los aspectos críticos antes mencionados, este porcentaje, aunque más elevado, está entre los límites reportados en otras investigaciones (Brimble y Stevenson-Clarke, 2005;Ma et al., 2013;McCabe, 2005;Mejía y Ordoñez, 2004). Es posible que el parafraseo no se considere plagio (Olivia-Duminitria et al., 2019) o que muestre el desconocimiento acerca de cómo citar o manejar fuentes de referencia correctamente (Roig, 2001). ...
... Esto sugiere que cerca de una tercera parte del grupo copió textos de ambos tipos de fuente para elaborar los trabajos académicos. Otra vez, tomando en cuenta las diferencias en el estudiantado y el contexto de las universidades, la frecuencia declarada del acto de copiar y pegar fragmentos de fuentes de Internet, sin citarlas, se ubica entre los más bajos reportados para este o uno similar en otras encuestas (Amiana-Espaillat, 2021;Comas et al., 2011;Hosny y Fatima, 2014;Quintos, 2017;Mejía y Ordoñez, 2004;McCabe, 2005;Reyes et al., 2014; Integridad académica: nuevas perspectivas, enfoques y desafíos MEDINA DÍAZ / VERDEJO CARRIÓN Scanlon y Neuman, 2002). En estas oscila entre 91% de 180 (Reyes et al., 2014) y 30% de 1194 estudiantes (Mejía y Ordoñez, 2004). ...
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... The construct-measurement items were adapted from published literature (McCabe, 2005;McCabe & Trevino, 1993;McCabe & Trevin˜o, 1997;Stone et al., 2009) to make the items closer to the learning and examination experience of Chinese undergraduates. Four additional items were added to the existing 10 items further to supplement the measurement of Chinese undergraduates' DAB. ...
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Dishonest academic behavior (DAB) by students in Chinese higher education institutions has become a significant concern. However, the related study of academic dishonesty in mainland China is very limited. This study fills this gap by examining the theory of planned behavior and its three extended versions, validating the effectiveness of predicting DAB among Chinese undergraduates, and testing 11 developed hypotheses. This study uses a quantitative research design, and responses are collected online from 525 undergraduate students from five disciplines in the second to fourth year at a public university in China. The results reveal the proposed models have good fitting indices and support 10 hypothetical relationships. These relationships demonstrate that attitudes, norms and control beliefs significantly impact intentions and justifications. Meanwhile, behavioral control, intentions, and justifications significantly influence DAB. Notably, this study found a direct and significant effect of MO on justifications. Therein, Model four best explains the variance in DAB and provides practical support for the expanded TPB models’ application in China.
... electronic device for cheating (11 percent) was lower than copying from another student with their knowledge ( 33 percent) and helping someone else cheat on a test ( 29 percent) [3]. Communication during the exam is significantly higher among neighbors who are also friends outside the examination room and unfamiliar neighbors will be less confident in interacting, which partially inhibits unwanted communication [8]. ...
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Exam seat allocation has become a complex problem, with an increasing number of students, subjects, exams, departments, and rooms in higher education institutions. The requirements and constraints of this problem demonstrate characteristics similar to extensively researched exam timetabling problems. They plan for a limited capacity effectively and efficiently. Additionally, exam seating requires a seating arrangement to reduce the number of cheating incidents. In the literature, several genetic algorithm-based methods have been recommended to prevent students, who are close friends, from sitting close during the exams while providing the best exam session arrangement. We improved the performance of the genetic algorithm using parameter optimization and a new elitism method to increase the saturation rate and accuracy. The algorithm was tested on a real-world dataset and demonstrated high potential for the realization of a high-quality seating arrangement compatible with the requirements of educational institutions.
... This is particularly true for actions like plagiarising or duplicating work from others while working on individual tasks. Many students either see these actions as minor instances of cheating or fail to identify them as cheating at all (McCabe, 2005). ...
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This study sought to analyse the role of the South African Qualifications Authority in curbing the misrepresentation of qualifications. Academic degrees are highly valued throughout the globe because they are seen as a dependable and trusted proxy for the bearers' knowledge, abilities and skills. In the same vein, the higher education system in South Africa makes every effort to generate well-qualified graduates who are capable of assisting in the leadership of the country's socio-economic growth. Recent reports in the media, on the other hand, create the impression that this initiative is being hampered by the widespread use of counterfeit, phoney and other illegitimate credentials. Consequently, the reputation of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is in grave danger as a result of the increasing prevalence of dishonestly misrepresented qualifications in both the public and private sectors. The education system is also at risk of losing its credibility as a result of actions involving deception, which is a subject that has to be addressed at the highest levels possible. Notably, the public service in South Africa is making significant progress towards the goal of ensuring that individuals who misrepresent their qualifications are barred from ever working in the public sector again. In this regard, SAQA plays an important role by offering verification services to individuals who are interested in applying for jobs in the public sector. Thus, this study contributes to the literature on credentialism and qualifications from the developing world with specific reference to South Africa.
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A key role of universities is the credentialing of student learning by awarding degrees and diplomas. This requires universities to have confidence in the integrity of their assessment processes and in turn, external stakeholders to have the same confidence. This study investigates the following research question: ‘Has COVID-19 had an impact on the assessment and invigilation of accounting courses in Australia and New Zealand and, if so, how?’ This is a critical issue for accounting faculty in many countries as COVID-19 has forced a shift in the way assessments are administered – from face to face to online. The study involved a survey of accounting faculty in Australia and New Zealand and found changes occurred to how students were assessed because of COVID-19 and a variety of institutional responses to this. The paper makes recommendations for accounting educators, universities, and the professional accounting bodies.
Chapter
The contemporary scientific literature on contract cheating offers numerous studies analysing the extent of this form of academic misconduct, including percentages of students engaging in contract cheating based on their field of study, age, gender, and other indicators (e.g., Awdry & Ives, 2020; Bretag, 2019). Given the importance of such studies, researchers startlingly rely on self-reported data obtained via student questionnaires, which is frequently the only method of data collection (Newton, 2018). There are numerous drawbacks to this method, like self-selection bias, confirmation bias, and many others (Mahmud & Bretag, 2013). In this chapter, we summarise the limitations of contemporary contract cheating research, provide recommendations on how to mitigate these limitations, and offer a wider variety of methods that researchers should consider using.KeywordsAcademic integrityContract cheatingLimitationsResearchSurveys
Chapter
This article examines the effects of the social media applications Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat/Instagram, Texting and various smartphone applications on academic dishonesty in higher education. The study employed a mixed-methods approach conducted through an emailed question-pro student survey consisting of 20 questions. The results of the study indicated that the majority of students in higher education utilize the social media applications Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat/Instagram and Smart Phones to assist with their academic studies. Although students report utilizing these forms of social media to assist with their studies most do not use these applications for cheating or any form of academic dishonesty. There was an increased willingness to use texting, screenshots, video and audio recordings to cheat on exams and other academic requirements. In addition, the majority of participants indicated they felt any form of cheating or academic dishonesty was wrong. However, most indicated they would do little or nothing to intervene or prevent it in their particular classroom situations.
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This article reviews 1 decade of research on cheating in academic institutions. This re-search demonstrates that cheating is prevalent and that some forms of cheating have increased dramatically in the last 30 years. This research also suggests that although both individual and contextual factors influence cheating, contextual factors, such as students' perceptions of peers' behavior, are the most powerful influence. In addition, an institution's academic integrity programs and policies, such as honor codes, can have a significant influence on students' behavior. Finally, we offer suggestions for managing cheating from students' and faculty members' perspectives. For the last decade, both collectively and individually, we have studied questions of organizational values and ethics. Although the initial point of departure for each of us was ethics in business organizations, we have expended considerable time trying ETHICS & BEHAVIOR, 11(3), 219–232 Copyright © 2001, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Requests for reprints should be sent to Donald L. McCabe, Faculty of Management, Rutgers Univer-sity, Newark, NJ 07102–3027.
Article
Analysis of student survey data from 6,096 respondents in thirty-one institutions found that academic dishonesty was associated with the existence of an honor code, student perceptions of the certainty of being reported, the severity of penalties, and cheating among peers.
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Although there are new forms of cheating among college students, particularly technology-related, overall cheating has increased only modestly. Significant increases in test cheating are occurring among women and in unpermitted collaboration among students on written work. Also, students report engaging in a wider variety of test-cheating behaviors, especially in the most explicit forms. (MSE)
Restorative justice on the college campus: Promoting student growth, and responsibility, and reawakening the spirit of campus community
  • D L Mccabe
  • L K Trevino
  • K D Butterfield
McCabe, D.L., Trevino, L.K., & Butterfield, K.D. (2004). Academic integrity: How widespread are cheating and plagiarism? In D.R. Karp & T. Allena (Eds.), Restorative justice on the college campus: Promoting student growth, and responsibility, and reawakening the spirit of campus community. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, IL, 130-141.