Academic Dishonesty: Honor Codes and Other Contextual Influences

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Academic Dishonesty: Honor Codes and Other Contextual Influences
Author(s): Donald L. McCabe and Linda Klebe Trevino
Reviewed work(s):
Source: The Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 64, No. 5 (Sep. - Oct., 1993), pp. 522-538
Published by: Ohio State University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2959991 .
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DonaldL. McCabe
LindaKlebeTrevino
AcademicDishonesty
HonorCodesandOtherContextual
Influences
Researchand media reportshave establishedthe
continuedpervasivenessof academic dishonestyamong studentson
America'scollegecampuses[12, 13, 22, 25, 26, 33, 46]. While some
classes and increased
collegeshave respondedwithacademicintegrity
to convincereluctant
to reportstudentcheaters
efforts
facultymembers
in theconceptof"community"
as an ef[13],thereis a renewedinterest
fectivefoundationforcampusgovernance.For example,theCarnegie
ofTeaching'sspecialreport,Campus
FoundationfortheAdvancement
Life:In Searchof Community,
concludes,"Whatis needed,we believe,
in highereducation.
is a larger,moreintegrative
visionof community
a place whereindividuals
to thegroupand
accepttheirobligations
wherewell-defined
governanceprocedures
guidebehaviorforthecommongood" [10, p. 7].
Derek Bok, in Universities
and theFutureof America,echoesthis
theme:
needto consider
thelarger
[U]niversities
campusenvironment
beyondthe
Anobviousstepinthisdirection
classroom.
istohaverulesthatprohibit
lying,cheating,
stealing,
violent
behavior,
interference
withfreeexpression,
or
otheractsthatbreakfundamental
norms.Suchrulesnotonlyprotect
the
thesupport
oftheRutgers
Theauthors
wouldliketo acknowledge
Graduate
School
ResearchResourcesCommittee,
of Management
ExxonResearchand Engineering
andFirstFidelity
Company,
Bancorporation.
DonaldL. McCabeis associate
at theGraduate
SchoolofManagement,
professor
TheStateUniversity
andLindaKlebeTrevino
isassoRutgers,
ofNewJersey-Newark,
ciateprofessor
at theSmealCollegeof Business
ThePennsylvania
Administration,
Park.
StateUniversity-University
Journal
Vol.64,No. 5 (September/October
ofHigher
Education,
1993)
0 1993bytheOhioStateUniversity
Press
Copyright
AcademicDishonesty
523
inthecommunity;
ofeveryone
rights
theyalsosignaltheimportance
ofbasic
andstrengthen
behavior
moralobligations
habitsofethical
[5,pp.84-85].
Bok offersthe honorcode as perhapsthe mosteffective
approachin
but acknowledgesthat,"the pervasive
mattersof academicintegrity,
forgrades;thesize,diversity,
competition
natureofmany
andimpersonal
largeuniversities;
theirlack of anyhonorcode tradition;and thewidespreaddistasteforaccusingone'sclassmates"combineto workagainst
such an approach[5, p. 87]. Althoughthehonorcode tradition
dates
back overa century,
theviabilityof suchcodes on today'scampusesis
open to some question[12]. Small, relatively
homogeneouscampuses
have generallygivenwayto large,culturally
diverseinstitutions
which
lack anyapparentsenseofcommunity
or commonpurposeamongstua credential
dentsotherthangetting
and a job.
natureof thisquestion,thereis a surprising
Despitethefundamental
ofhonor
paucityofempiricalresearchwhichaddressestheeffectiveness
codes.The studydiscussedhereattempts
to helpfillthisgap bycomparin collegesthathave honorcodes and those
ing academicdishonesty
thatdo not. The fewstudiesthathave addressedthe effectiveness
of
honorcodes[7, 9] havegenerally
considered
code effectiveness
independentof context.We believethatit is importantto acknowledgeand
understandthe complexityof the social systemswithinwhichhonor
codesareembeddedand thefactthatothercontextual
factorsmaybe as
importantor moreimportantthantheexistenceof an honorcode by
itself.Thus thisstudyextendsbeyondpreviousworkby studying
the
ofhonorcodeswithina morecomplexsocialcontext.
effectiveness
Honor Codes in Context
AcademicDishonesty
ofacademicdishonesty,
thedatacollecDependingon one'sdefinition
tionmethodsemployed,and othervariables,priorstudiesreportthat
from13to 95 percentofcollegestudents
anywhere
engagein someform
ofacademicdishonesty
[12, 17,20,21,26,30,31,42]. A majordichotomy
thatseparatesthesepriorstudiesis thelevelof analysis.One streamof
to be predictive
researchhas focusedon individual
differences
of
thought
cheatingbehavior,suchas gender[45],gradepointaverage[1,22],work
ethic[15], TypeA behavior,competitive
achievement-striving
[35], and
self-esteem
on the
[44]. In contrast,otherstudieshave concentrated
institutional
levelof analysisand examinedsuch contextualfactorsas
honorcodes[7, 8, 9], faculty
responsesto cheating[26],sanctionthreats
[33,42], and sociallearning[33].
524
Journalof HigherEducation
approachhelpsto understand
Althoughthe"individualdifferences"
to cheat,the findingsare not particularly
individuals'predispositions
institutional
foreffective
administrator
searching
usefulto theuniversity
contextual
By investigating
responsesto issuesof academicdishonesty.
and thatare
factorsthatmaybe associatedwithacademicdishonesty
thestudydiscussedheremakesan iminfluence,
opento administrative
ofthiscomplexissue.In adto ourunderstanding
portantcontribution
questionofhonorcode effectiveness,
ditionto addressingtheimportant
including
factors,
itexaminestheroleofa numberofrelatedcontextual
policiesare understoodand acthedegreeto whichacademicintegrity
ofthesepolicies,and theperceivedbehaviorof
cepted,theenforcement
factors,
contextual
peers.Amongpreviousstudiesthathaveinvestigated
yearsago, thatreaches
we are aware of onlyone [6], conductedthirty
and considerstheeffectiveness
beyonda singleclassroomor university
variables.Thus thisstudy,
of honorcodes alongwithothercontextual
factors
whichinvestigates
therelativeinfluenceof multiplecontextual
institutions
of higherlearning,makesan
acrossstudentsat thirty-one
to theextantliterature.
contribution
important
TheInfluenceof Honor Codes on AcademicDishonesty
honorcodes can be foundin
minority,
Althoughstillin a significant
ofhigher
education[18,41]. Sheldon
numberofinstitutions
an increasing
Steinbach,generalcounseloftheAmericanCouncilon Education,was
recently
quotedas saying,"Honorcodes look liketheyare in a stateof
in
revivalon America'scollegecampuses"[41]. This renewedinterest
honorcodes impliesthe beliefthatcodes can influenceacademicdisand thelimitedempiricalresearchavailablesupportsthisbelief.
honesty,
For example,Campbell[8] comparedcheatingamongstudentsunder
and found
an honorsystemand a proctorsystemat thesameuniversity
thestudentsunderthehonorsystemwereless likelyto cheat.Canning
infivesociologyclassesbeforeand afteran
[9] conductedan experiment
honorsystemwas established.Studentswereprovidedtheopportunity
to cheatby gradingtheirown papers,withoutknowingthatduplicates
The incidence
made and gradedbytheinstructor.
had been previously
and
of cheatingwas reducedafteran honorsystemwas implemented
afterhavingthehonorsystemin place
was reducedbynearlytwo-thirds
forfiveyears.A surveyof medicalstudents[7] governedby an honor
ofAlabamaSchool ofMedicinemeasuredstudent
code attheUniversity
ofand adherenceto thecode. Ninety-two
percentofthereperceptions
sugthattheyhad notobservedanycode violations,
spondentsreported
However,thelackofa non-codecomparison
gestingcode effectiveness.
thelowlevelofacademicdishongroupmakesitimpossibleto attribute
AcademicDishonesty
525
estyto the code in thisstudy.One study,conductedin 1964,directly
comparedacademicdishonesty
at code and non-codeschools[6]. This
- thosewhere
studyfoundthatschoolswithtraditional
honorsystems
studentspledgeto abide by an honorcode and takeresponsibility
for
ofacademicdishonesty
whenitoccurs- had
and sanctioning
detection
thelowestrateof academicdishonesty.
In general,previousresearchhas donelittleto developthetheoretical
oftheproposedinverserelationship
betweenhonorcodes
underpinnings
and to explainwhystudentsare expectedto
and academicdishonesty
cheat less when governedby an honorcode system.At least several
plausibleexplanationsare possible.First,in mosthonorsystems,studentspledgeto abidebya code thatclarifies
expectations
regarding
apis moreclearly
propriate
and inappropriate
behavior.Thus,wrongdoing
ofwrongdoing
definedunderhonorcode systems.Whenthedefinition
to rationalis madeclear,itbecomesmoredifficult
forpotentialcheaters
ize andjustifycheatingbehavior,and theincidenceof cheatingmaybe
shifttheresponsibility
for
loweras a result.Second,honorcode systems
controlof academicdishonesty
fromfacultyand administrators
to stuforthedestudentsare givenresponsibility
dents[6]. In mostsystems,
tectionofviolatorsand forthejudicialaspectsofthesystem,
suchas determining
guiltand assigningpenalties[6, 32]. Researchby Schwartz
to the selfif
[38] suggeststhatindividualsmustascriberesponsibility
moralnormsare to be activatedand to influencebehavior.Therefore,
cheatingmaybe lowerunderhonorsystemsbecause studentstakereforacademicdishonesty.
sponsibility
Finally,studentsgovernedby an
suchas unproctored
exams.
honorsystemarefrequently
givenprivileges
It is likelythattheywouldbe willingto complywithan honorsystemto
preservesuch valued privileges.Thus, cheatingmay be lowerunder
the
honorcode systemsbecausestudentswishto protecttheprivileges
systemprovides.
1: Honorcodesare associatedwithdecreased
Hypothesis
academicdishonesty.
Becausecodes varyextensively
in theircontentand implementation,
othercontextual
factorsmayinfluence
academicdishonesty
beyondthe
mereexistenceofa code. For example,thehonorcode maybe adminisor by
teredbyfaculty,
byadministrators,
by studenthonorcommittees,
ofthesegroups.At someuniversities,
either
somecombination
students
signa generalpledgenotto cheator arerequiredto signa specificpledge
ofhonoron individualtestsand majorwritten
At otherinassignments.
such as Princeton,Smith,BrynMawr,and Rice,ifstudents
stitutions,
forreporting
observean honorcode violation,theyareheldresponsible
526
Journalof HigherEducation
of Virginia,
it [4]. Some honorcodes,suchas theone at theUniversity
are also tied to severesanctionsystemsrequiringexpulsionfor any
seriousviolation[41]. At theotherextreme,
an institution
mayhavean
honorcode thatis detailedin thestudenthandbookbutis relatively
unknownto studentsand facultybecauseit is not a livingcomponentof
ofhigheredtheinstitutional
culture.Also,itis possibleforinstitutions
ofacademicintegrity
ucationto createa strongclimatesupportive
withoutactuallyhavingan explicitcode.
Given the complexityof social systemsand the variationsamong
honorcodes,itis relevantto ask thequestion,howimportant
arehonor
Thisstudyprovidesan opporcodesrelativeto othercontextual
factors?
contributions
tunityto examinetheindependent
of a numberof such
in a multivariate
contextualvariablesand theirrelativecontributions
context.
on AcademicDishonesty
OtherContextualInfluences
and acceptanceof academicintegrity
Understanding
policies. Acaintheircontentand inthe
demicintegrity
policiescan differ
significantly
mannerin whichtheyare communicated.
As a result,important
differences are likelyto be foundin the understanding
and acceptanceof
thesepolicieson different
campuses.For example,althoughit maybe
thatstudentsand facultywouldnotknowoftheexistenceof a
unlikely
formalcode, its specificprovisionsmaybe poorlycommunicated
and
understood.Thus, studentsand facultywillbe less likelyto adhereto
policiesthat theyeitherdo not know about or do not understand.
thatfacultymembersmaybe reluctant
Further,researchdemonstrates
to followinstitutional
policieswhentheyobservea studentcheating,
to settlethematter"one-on-one"
preferring
withthestudent[4, 26, 34].
Finally,studentsmayviewacademicintegrity
policiesas "justanother
hurdleto be overcomeon theroad to a career"[18, p. 33]. Thus,combinedfacultyand student
and supportoftheinstitution's
understanding
academicintegrity
policiesmaybe moreimportant
thanthesimpleexistenceor nonexistence
ofan honorcode.
2: Academic
willbeinversely
tounderstanding
Hypothesis
dishonesty
related
andacceptance
ofacademic
integrity
policies.
Enforcement
of ethicalguidelines.Whetheror not an explicithonor
code exists,academicdishonesty
maydependuponthesanctionsystem,
how effectively
academicintegrity
particularly
rulesand guidelinesare
Deterrence
enforced.
thatformisconduct
to be inhibited,
theorysuggests
mustperceive,first,thattheywillbe caughtand, second,
wrongdoers
thatseverepenaltieswillbe imposedforthemisconduct
[19].The under-
AcademicDishonesty
527
lyingcognitivemechanismis the expectationof punishment
and the
notionthatindividualswillbehavein waysthatmaximizerewardsand
minimizecosts. Tittleand Rowe [42] foundthatthe threatof being
caughtand punishedsignificantly
deterred
testcheatingamongcollege
Michaelsand Miethe[33] foundthattheperstudents.More recently,
of punishment
ceivedprobability
and theperceivedseverity
of punishmentwereinversely
correlated
withcheatingin an honorcode setting.
Becauseacademicdishonesty
can oftenbe concealedfromfaculty
memof being caughtmay
bers,students'perceptionsabout the certainty
depend upon the likelihoodthat anotherstudentwould reportthe
of academicdishonesty
misconduct.Such peerreporting
is partof the
explicithonorcode atmanyeducational
institutions
where"nontoleration
clauses"oftenobligeand occasionallyrequirestudentsto reportviolations[18].
willbeinversely
totheperceived
Hypothesis
3: Academic
dishonesty
related
ofbeingreported
certainty
bya peer.
Deterrence
theoryalso suggeststhat,all else beingequal, an increase
intheseverity
ofconsequences
fora deviantactshouldreducethenumber
ofindividualswillingto riskit [47]. If thepenaltyis severeenough,the
potentialconsequencesmaysimplyoutweigh
thepotentialrewardofthe
misconduct.
Not surprisingly,
priorresearchindicatesthatthislogicappliesto studentperceptions
concerning
theseverity
of penaltiesforacts
of academicdishonesty
[33].
willbeinversely
4: Academic
related
totheperceived
Hypothesis
dishonesty
ofpenalties.
severity
Behaviorofpeers. Academicdishonesty
mayalso be influenced
by
oftheirpeers'behavior.Thisproposedrelationship
students'
perceptions
is supportedby sociallearningtheory[2] and thenotionthatunethical
the
theinfluence
ofexample[37] orthrough
behavioris learnedthrough
ofcheatingin peergroups.For example,
acceptanceand reinforcement
studiesofacademiccheatinghavefoundfraternity/
sorority
membership
increasescheatingbehavior[1, 21, 39]. Althoughfrequently
explainedin
structures
termsof opportunity
[21, 39], thesefindings
mayalso be exassociation
plainedin termsof social learningtheoryand differential
theory.
Social learningtheory
[2] emphasizesthatmuchofhumanbehavioris
learnedthroughtheinfluenceof example.Individualslearnby observforthem.Thus,accordingotherpeople'sbehaviorand itsconsequences
otherscheatsuccessfully
ing to social learningtheory,seeingreferent
528
Journalof HigherEducation
shouldincreasethetendencyof theobserverto behavein similarways
[2].
Hypothesis
5: Academic
willbe positively
to perceptions
dishonesty
related
ofpeers'academic
dishonesty.
administrators
Beyond these hypothesizedbivariaterelationships,
therelative
dealingwithacademicdishonesty
issuesneedto understand
influencesof the independent
variables(existenceof an explicithonor
code,understanding
and acceptanceof academicintegrity
policies,cerof penalties,and peers'behavior)on
taintyof beingreported,
severity
academicdishonesty.
of thisstudyis
contribution
Thus, an important
it providesto explorethe relativeinfluencesof these
the opportunity
contextual
variables.
ResearchProcedures
Sample
The hypothesesweretestedusinga sampleof 6,096 studentsfrom
U.S. collegesand universities.
Initialsampleselection
thirty-one
focused
on thirty-three
institutions
that had participatedin a conferenceon
honorsystemsheldat PrincetonUniversity
in 1988,and fourteen
institutions
withhonorcodesultimately
indicated
a willingness
to participate.
Theseinstitutions
weregenerally
smalland highlyselectivein theiradmissionspolicies,and we identified
non-honorcode institutions
with
similarprofiles.
ofthethirty-eight
Seventeen
non-codeschoolscontacted
also agreedto participate.
The institutional
characteristics
ofthesecode
and non-codeschoolssuggestthatthetwogroupsare comparablewith
= 3441 fornon-codeand
regardto bothsize (meannumberof students
3407forcode institutions)
and academicselectivity
(mean SAT score=
1236fornon-codeand 1249forcode institutions).
The onlysubstantive
is the inclusionof five all-femaleinstitutions
difference
in the code
schoolsampleversusnoneamongthenon-codeschools.However,all of
theanalysesdiscussedbelowwerereplicatedon thereducedsampleof
coeducational
twenty-six
and no substantive
differences
were
institutions,
foundbetweenthetwosetsof analyses.
Data Collection
At twenty-eight
ofthethirty-one
institutions,
surveysweremailedto
a randomsampleof500 students
in thefallof 1990.Threeschoolsasked
to includetheirentireseniorclass in thesurvey.Thus, 15,904surveys
weremailedin total.Respondentswereasked to completethe survey
and return
it by mailor to specialcollectionboxessetup
anonymously
AcademicDishonesty
529
for
at a centralcampuslocation.A totalof6,096surveyswerereturned
code
The
return
rate
at
honor
38.3
percent.
rate
of
an overallresponse
higherthanat non-codeschools
schools(41.4 percent)was significantly
wereseniors,9 perpercentofrespondents
(35.7 percent).Eighty-eight
centwerejuniors,and theremaining3 percentcould not be classified.
and mixofmajorswere
on gender,ethnicity,
The profiles
ofrespondents
profiles(based upon pubcomparedwiththeirrespectiveinstitutional
contacts).
data providedbyourinstitutional
lishedfigures
and additional
of
thattheprofiles
suggested
thesecomparisons
Witha singleexception,
profiles,
lesinstitutional
closelymatchedtheirrespective
respondents
bias in the sample.
seningconcernsabout potentialnon-respondent
However,thereis evidenceof some genderbias. Based on available
foreach school,we wouldhaveexpecteda female/
profiles
demographic
surHowever,femalesreturned
maleratioof55/45amongrespondents.
ratioamong
higherrate,fortheactualfemale/male
veysat a significantly
was 62/38.The primaryeffectof thisbias towardhonor
respondents
theactuallevelofcheating
and womenis to understate
code institutions
in the overallsample,because the resultsindicatethatcheatingis less
prevalentin each of thesegroups.However,separateanalysesforthe
code versusnon-codeand thefemaleversusmalesegmentsofthesamthenatureofthereaffect
ple suggestthatthesebiasesdo notmaterially
discussedhere.
lationships
Measures
The dependentvariablewas a compositemeaAcademicdishonesty.
usacademicdishonesty:
oftwelvetypesofself-reported
sureconsisting
duringa test;using
ingcribnoteson a test;copyingfromanotherstudent
unfairmethodsto learnwhatwas on a testbeforeitwas given;copying
fromanotherstudentduringa testwithouttheirknowledge;helping
someoneelseto cheaton a test;cheatingon a testin anyotherway;copyorfalsifying
itin as yourownwork;fabricating
ingmaterialand turning
substaninworkdonebysomeoneelse;receiving
a bibliography;
turning
on an assignment
collaborating
helpon an assignment;
tial,unpermitted
askedforindividualwork;copyinga fewsentences
whentheinstructor
it. Respondents
ofmaterialfroma publishedsourcewithoutfootnoting
had
which
the
with
to
engagedin
they
wereasked identify frequency
Likertscale (fromnever= 1 to
each ofthesebehaviorson a four-point
by calculating
manytimes= 4). A compositemeasurewas constructed
and thismeasurehad a scale
violations,
thetotalnumberofself-reported
werealso evaluatedusing
Cronbach'salpha of0.794. (All relationships
thetestand non-test
cheatingcomponentsof thismeasureas separate
530
Journalof HigherEducation
werefoundbetween
dependentvariables.No substantivedifferences
theseanalysesand themoregeneralresultsdiscussedhere.)
The compositeacademicdishonesty
measurecould rangefrom12 to
48 forany individual,with12 representing
no self-reported
academic
ofanykindand48 representing
academicdishonesty
dishonesty
frequent
acrossall ofthecategories
described.The scoresforthisvariableranged
from12to 45 withan overallmeanof 15.29and a standarddeviationof
4.21. However,theacademicdishonesty
variablewas highlyskewed,and
inspectionof theresidualsin subsequentregression
analysessuggested
thatthe standardassumptionsof normality
wereviolated.Thus a log
transformation
[11] oftheacademicdishonesty
variablewas used in all
statistical
analyses.(The residualsin theregression
analysesemploying
this log transformation
are normallydistributed.)
This transformed
measureof academicdishonesty
had a mean of 2.70 and a standard
deviationof0.23.
Explicithonorcode.A dummyvariablewas utilizedto signify
whether
an individualinstitution
employedan explicithonorcode. The workof
Melendez[32] was usedto definetheminimum
codecriteria:
unproctored
an honorpledge,studentreportage
examinations,
and
(non-toleration),
of
theexistence a courtorpeerjudiciary.Administrators
atparticipating
institutions
providedthedata neededto makethedetermination
and,in
everycase,theyagreedwiththeauthors'classification
oftheirinstitution.
Understanding/acceptance
ofacademicintegrity
policy.Understandof
the
academic
acceptance
integrity
policywas measuredwithfour
ing/
itemson the studentsurvey.These itemsaskedtherespondent
to rate:
"the averagestudent'sunderstanding
of [the institution's]
policieson
academichonesty,"
"thefaculty'sunderstanding
of thesepolicies,""the
faculty's
supportofthesepolicies,"and "theeffectiveness
oftheinstitution'spolicieson academichonesty"on a four-point
Likertscale from
verylow to veryhigh.Cronbach'salphaforthisscalewas 0.824.
of thecertainty
Certainty
of beingreported.Studentperceptions
of
beingreportedweremeasuredby a singlefour-point
Likert-scale
item
thatasked"how likely(veryunlikelyto verylikely)is it thatthetypical
studentat [theinstitution]
wouldreportsuchviolations?"
Severityof penalties.Studentperceptionsof the severityof their
school'spenaltiesforacademicdishonesty
weremeasuredusinga single
Likert
scaleitemwhichaskedrespondents
four-point
to ratethe"severity
ofpenaltiesforcheatingat [theirschool]"fromverylow to veryhigh.
Peers'behavior.The measureof peerbehavioremployedhereconsistedof threeitems:studentperceptions
of how frequently
(neverto
often
on
a
either
very
five-point
scale)
plagiarismor testcheatingoc-
AcademicDishonesty
531
curredat theirschooland an objectivemeasureoftheactualnumberof
times(neverto manytimeson a four-point
scale) the respondent
had
observedanotherstudentcheatingon a testor exam. Due to thediffermetrics
ofthesevariables,
each ofthecomponents
encesintheunderlying
was standardizedbeforecombiningthemintothepeers'behaviormeaz scoreswerecalculated,thethreez scores
sure.For each component,
werecombined,and a constantvalueof 10was added to thesumofthe
z scoresto createthepeers'behaviorvariable.This measurehad a mean
of9.99 and a standarddeviationof 2.43. Cronbach'salphaforthescale
was computedto be 0.715.
Findings
A t-testwas used to comparethe meansof code and non-codereon theacademicdishonesty
variable.As predicted
spondents
(hypothesis
1),self-reported
cheatingwas significantly
higheramongstudents
in the
non-codesamplethanamongthoseinthehonorcodesample(t = 26.073,
means were2.62 in the honor
p < 0.0001). The academicdishonesty
code sampleand 2.77 at thenon-codeschools.(The meansfortheuntransformed
measureof academic dishonesty
were 14.00 and 16.56,
respectively.)
was significantly
As detailedin table 1, academicdishonesty
correlatedwith:(1) theunderstanding/
acceptanceofacademicintegrity
policies (hypothesistwo); (2) the perceivedcertaintyof being reported
(hypothesisthree);(3) the perceivedseverity
of penalties(hypothesis
of peers'behavior(hypothesis
four);and (4) theperceptions
five),supbivariaterelationships.
portingall ofthehypothesized
The moreinteresting
policyquestionis therelativeimpactofeach of
theseindependent
variableson cheatingbehavior.To examinethisquesTABLE I
of StudyVariables
Intercorrelations
N
Measure
Code
of beingcaught
Certainty
of policy
Understanding
of penalties
Severity
Peers'behavior
Academicdishonesty
M
S.D.
Intercorrelations
4
2
3
1
6079 0.50 0.50
6036 2.05 0.73 0.46
5784 11.40 2.47 0.42 0.43
5884 3.00 0.79 0.31 0.31 0.51
5993 9.99 2.43 -0.43 -0.42 -0.49 -0.31
5904 2.70 0.23 -0.32 -0.27 -0.25 -0.12
aresignificant
NOTE: Allcorrelations
atp <
0.001.
5
0.51
6
Journalof HigherEducation
532
tion,a multipleregression
modelwas constructed
withacademicdishonestyas thedependentvariableand existenceof an explicithonorcode
(enteredas a dummyvariable),the understanding/acceptance
of academicintegrity
of beingreported,
theseverity
of
policies,thecertainty
penalties,and peers'behavioras theindependent
variables.The model
was significant
and,withtheexceptionoftheunderstanding/
acceptance
of policymeasure,all of the independent
variablesmade statistically
to thefinalmodel.Peers'behaviorhad by far
significant
contributions
the strongestinfluenceon academicdishonesty.
These resultsare reportedin table2.
Post hoc analysis.Giventheimportance
ofpeers'behavior,a crucial
issue may be to understandhow the widerinstitutional
contextinfluencesthisvariable.Althoughwe didnothypothesize
theserelationships,
a post-hocmultipleregression
analysisoftherelationbetweentheperceptionof peers'behaviorand othercontextualfactorsprovidessome
insightto guidefutureresearchand policyconsiderations.
As shownin
table3, thisanalysisindicatesthattheunderstanding
and acceptanceof
academicintegrity
policieshas the strongest
associationwithstudents'
perceptions
oftheirpeers'behavior.
Discussion
The correlational
data (table 1) supportthehypotheses
thatacademic
is positivelyassociatedwithperceptions
of peers'academic
dishonesty
and negatively
associatedwiththeunderstanding
dishonesty,
ofacademic
integrity
policies,the certainty
of beingreported,and the severity
of
penalties.Further,a t-testfoundsignificantly
lowerself-reported
academicdishonesty
amongstudentsat honorcode institutions.
TABLE 2
of BeingReported,
Regressionof Peers'Behavior,Code, Severityof Penalties,Certainty
and Understanding
of Policyon AcademicDishonesty
Variable
Explanatory
Constant
Peers'behavior
Code
of penalties
Severity
of beingreported
Certainty
of policy
Understanding
NOTE: N =
b
2.234
0.045
-0.006
0.020
-0.017
0.002
Beta
0.468
-0.126
0.067
-0.052
0.020
= 435.37,
5466.R2= 0.2850,Adjusted
R2= 0.2844,F(5,5461)
p < 0.0001.
p
0.0001
0.0001
0.0001
0.0001
0.1895
AcademicDishonesty
533
TABLE 3
of Policy,Code, Certainty
Regressionof Understanding
of BeingReported,and Severity
of
Penaltieson Peers' Behavior
ExplanatoryVariable
Constant
of policy
Understanding
Code
of beingreported
Certainty
of penalties
Severity
b
15.489
-0.296
-1.098
-0.625
-0.095
Beta
-0.299
-0.225
-0.187
-0.031
p
0.0001
0.0001
0.0001
0.0155
NOTE: N = 5606. R2 = 0.3383,AdjustedR2 = 0.3378, F(4,5602)= 716.03,p < 0.0001.
The multivariate
ofpeers'behavior
analysisfoundthattheperception
contextual
thatsociallearnwas themostinfluential
variable,suggesting
ingtheorymaybe particularly
usefulforunderstanding
academicdisThe stronginfluence
ofpeers'
honestybehavioramongcollegestudents.
behaviormaysuggestthatacademicdishonesty
notonlyis learnedfrom
thebehaviorofpeers,butthatpeers'behaviorprovidesa kind
observing
ofnormative
supportforcheating.The factthatothersarecheatingmay
feelsleftat a disadalso suggestthat,in sucha climate,thenon-cheater
vantage.Thus,cheatingmaycometo be viewedas an acceptablewayof
gettingand stayingahead [18]. Considerthefollowingcommentsfrom
is rampantat, . . . so much
studyrespondents:
"[Academicdishonesty]
seemsto be everybody
so thattheattitude
does it- I'l be at a disadvantageifI don't";"If othersdo it,you'rebeingleftbehindbynotparticipating";"It'sthe'90's;yousnooze,youlose";"Whenmostoftheclassis
exam and theywillruinthe curve,it influences
cheatingon a difficult
to
cheat
so
you
yourgradewon'tbe affected."
An important
ofthisstudyforfutureresearchand forthe
implication
managementof academicdishonestymay be that any movementto
as thesolesolution
adopthonorcodes is ill conceivedifitis undertaken
to theacademicdishonesty
is a complex
problem.Academicdishonesty
behaviorinfluenced
bymultiplevariablesbeyondthemereexistenceof
an honorcode.
The post-hocanalysissuggested
thatan institution's
abilityto develop
a sharedunderstanding
and acceptanceofitsacademicintegrity
policies
has a significant
and substantive
impacton studentperceptions
oftheir
peers'behavior,themostpowerfulinfluenceon self-reported
cheating.
of thesepoliciesmaybe extremely
Strivingformutualunderstanding
important.
Thus,programsaimedat distributing,
explaining,
and gainingstudentand faculty
acceptanceofacademicintegrity
policiesmaybe
534
Journalof HigherEducation
mayin[33],theseprograms
useful.As suggestedelsewhere
particularly
abouttheseriousness
and
cludethesigningofhonorpledges,reminders
in coursesyllabi
and statements
consequencesof academicdishonesty,
aboutacademicmisconduct.
in thepresentresearchone of the lowestratesof selfInterestingly,
codeinstitution.
was foundat a non-honor
reported
academicdishonesty
to the conceptof acacommitted
is strongly
However,thisinstitution
demichonor,makingit a majortopicofdiscussionin itsstudenthandwhereitgoesto
sessionsforincomingstudents,
book and at orientation
greatlengthsto ensurethatitspolicyis understoodand thatacademic
At
honoris theobligationofeverymemberofthecampuscommunity.
the otherextreme,one of the higherincidencesof unethicalbehavior
honorcode. However,stuwas foundat a schoolwitha long-standing
and acceptanceof the
dentsreporteda low level of understanding
foradminisresponsibility
school'spolicyand theofficialwithprimary
this
that
thehonorcode supported finding
bysuggesting theinstitering
in communicating
and implementing
its
itsefforts
tutionhas diminished
code in recentyears.
In thefinalanalysis,themostimportant
questionto ask concerning
can createan environacademicdishonesty
maybe how an institution
is sociallyunacceptable,thatis,where
mentwhereacademicdishonesty
areclearlyunderstoodand wherestudents
perinstitutional
expectations
Althoughthere
ceivethattheirpeersareadheringto theseexpectations.
are no simpleanswers,one alternative
maybe Kohlberg's[27, 28] sugSchoolsorgangestionthatschoolsshouldbecome"justcommunities."
ized aroundthe"justcommunity"
conceptaregoverneddemocratically,
in thedevelopment
ofa socialcontractthatdeand students
participate
The unfinesnorms,values,and members'rightsand responsibilities.
the
institutional
in
is that
climatecreated these"just
assumption
derlying
thatarenecessary
willprovidetheconditions
formoraldecommunities"
velopmentand behavior[23, 36]. Althoughmoreresearchis neededto
can actuallydiscourageacademic
whether
determine
"justcommunities"
in
heresug[24],thedata reported
dishonesty highereducationsettings
study.
gestthatthisconceptdeservesfurther
itis
forthisposition,
In additionto themoreobjectivesupportoffered
to look at studentcommentsfromhonorcode schoolsthat
instructive
foracademic
seemto have achievedsomesharedsenseofresponsibility
For example,in responseto a question
amongtheirstudents.
dishonesty
fornotcheating,
thefollowing
whichprobedmotivations
responseswere
and wouldn'tdo
notunusual:"I liketherespectI getat [theinstitution]
to jeopardizethat";"Peerpressure- youwouldfeelveryemanything
AcademicDishonesty
535
saw it";"as forcheatingon a test,it'ssocially
barrassedifotherstudents
thingsin high
"I didmanyofthese'academicdishonesty'
unacceptable";
is
at [theinstitution] theatmosphere
school butnotsincearriving
one of respectforthestudent- and so I haverespectforthesystem";
"Respectforothers
openness/freedom";
"Respectfor[theinstitution's]
in the class - cheatingmay penalizethemas well."One respondent
pointedout,"We do not'report'peopleliketheHonorBoardwas some
on a student-to-student
levelis muchmore
hitsquad - confrontation
common& alwaysthefirstand usuallytheonlysteptaken."We believe
thatAmitaiEtzioni[16] would see thesecommentsas evidencethat
of any
is intact,thereis littleneedforgovernment
"whena community
kind."
cheatstudents
at schoolswithhighlevelsofself-reported
Bycontrast,
in termsofa 'we'veringoftendiscusstheissueofacademicdishonesty
is acceptablebecausethey
Cheatingbyus (students)
sus'they'mentality.
'deserve'itforanynumberofreasons(facultyand/oradministrators)
thepoorqualityofteaching,and unclearinunreasonableassignments,
on majorassignments
werementioned
frequently
bystudents.
structions
in lightof
Of course,theconclusionsstatedheremustbe interpreted
limitations
of thisstudy.For example,becausethis
themethodological
surveydata, the observedlinkages
studyreliedupon cross-sectional
arecorrelavariablesand academicdishonesty
betweentheindependent
tional and not necessarilycausal. In addition,althoughwe insured
ofthesurveydata,bias due to
and confidentiality
completeanonymity
theresults.For
and social desirability
mayhave influenced
self-report
at a code institution
would be
example,it is possiblethatrespondents
on a survey.Further,given
less willingto admitacademicdishonesty
our sample,we can notgeneralizebeyondsmall,selectiveinstitutions.
Thereis some researchevidenceto suggestthatless cheatingoccursin
forresearchers
moreselective
institutions
[6], anditis important
smaller,
to eithermeasureor controlfor(as was done here)theseextraneous
in absolute
sourcesof variance.However,despitepossibledifferences
reasonto believethattheunderlycheatinglevels,thereis no theoretical
variablesand the
betweentheindependent
ingnatureoftherelationships
in larger,
lessselectiveinstitutions.
variablewouldbe different
dependent
in comparingacademicdishonesty
interest
Finally,givenourprimary
in code versusnon-codeinstitutions,
we believethatthe largemultiequal
sample used here,that includesan approximately
institution
ofthisstudy.
numberofcode and non-codeschools,is a majorstrength
The sampleis particularly
becausethesmaller,moreselective
interesting
of a
institutions
institutions
studiedhererepresentthe undergraduate
536
Journalof HigherEducation
shareof our nation'sleaders.For example,almostone
disproportionate
in five(18.5 percent)of Business Week's 1991 CorporateElite (the
CEOs ofthenation'stop 1000firms)earneda degree[14] at one of the
institutions.
participating
Thus,thisstudyprovidesa uniqueopportunthathelpto shapetheleadityto understand
theacademicenvironments
ersofthisnation.
contributes
to a smallbutgrowingempiricalliteraThisinvestigation
tureon academicdishonesty
and is one offewempiricalstudiesto examine the role of honorcodes in combinationwithothertheoretically
These
importantcontextualfactorsin reducingacademicdishonesty.
relevantbecause theyare open to
contextualvariablesare particularly
administrative
influence.In responseto the keyquestionabouthonor
ofan honcodeeffectiveness,
thefindings
suggestthatthemereexistence
or code is not as important
as othersocial contextfactors.Academic
is most stronglyassociatedwiththe perceptionsof peers'
dishonesty
to a lesserdegreeby the existenceof a code,
behavior.It is influenced
of penaltiesand, incertainty
of beingreported,
the perceivedseverity
and acceptanceof academic integrity
directly,
by the understanding
how
policies.Althoughadditionalresearchwillbe neededto understand
thesefactorsoperateand howtheycan be influenced,
clearlythefindings
of thisresearchare hopeful.Althoughtheyleave manyquestionsunanswered,theydemonstrate
thatthevisionoftheCarnegieFoundation
accepttheirobligathatourcampusesbecomeplaces"whereindividuals
tionsto thegroupand wherewell-defined
governance
procedures
guide
Albehaviorforthe commongood" [10, p. 7] maynot be unrealistic.
thoughthetask willbe difficult,
thesuccessachievedby severalof the
schoolsstudiedin thissample,code and non-codeschoolsalike,attest
thatit is possible.
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