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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cheating in College

By Scott Jaschik
Inside Higher Ed
Originally published on September 27, 2012

A scandal at Harvard University has many educators talking about cheating and whether anything can be done about it. Experts say that many students arrive in college already skilled at and not morally troubled by cheating, and scandals at top high schools back up this point of view. What, if anything, can professors and colleges? These issues are explored in a new book, Cheating at College: Why Students Do It and What Educators Can Do About It (Johns Hopkins University Press). The authors are Donald L. McCabe, professor of management and global business at the Rutgers University Business School; Kenneth D. Butterfield, associate professor of management, information systems and entrepreneurship at Washington State University; and Linda K. TreviƱo, professor of organizational behavior at Pennsylvania State University. They responded via e-mail to questions about the book.

Q: Is cheating getting worse? Or do those who say that only imagine a golden age when academic honesty prevailed?

A: Interestingly, the hard data we present in our book suggest cheating may now be on the decline. Similar results have been obtained by the Josephson Institute in their work with high schools. After a period of steep increases, some moderation in cheating was reported in their 2010 report. They will issue a new report in October 2012 and it will be most interesting to see what’s happening now. But, it is important to keep in mind that the data are self-reported and, in our studies, we have moved from print surveys to online surveys. That move may have affected the numbers we are seeing, possibly making the picture look rosier than it really is.

In our college work, we have observed a kind of ebb and flow in our data – some types of cheating seem to have increased (surprisingly not necessarily those related to the Internet) and others seem to be on the wane. However, there seems to be little question, based on various comments offered by students, that changes in student attitudes can’t be ignored. Many students have indicated that they have had no involvement in certain types of cheating, but in open-ended questions near the end of our survey, they say that they actually have engaged in these actions, but when they did it, it was not cheating because…. Of course, this may simply be a rationalization process so students don’t have to admit, maybe even to themselves, that they’ve actually cheated.

The entire story is here.