22 SES 01 C, The Dark Side of Academia: Cheating and Incivilities
A pervasiveness of academic dishonesty (e.g. cheating and plagiarism) among undergraduate students has garnered much attention in recent years. The higher education system in Russia is also suffering from this disease. The data of the project ‘Monitoring of student characteristics and trajectories’ (‘Monitoring of student characteristics and trajectories’, 2013) indicate the high level of academic dishonesty among Russian students which seems to jeopardize the quality, efficiency and competitiveness of the entire Russian educational system (Magnus et al., 2002; Brandao & Teixeira, 2005). Furthermore, the ubiquity of plagiarism might lead to erosion of intellectual property, stagnation of science, learning motivation decrease of diligent students (Efimova, 2013). Another negative implication concerns proved by empirical research strong relationship between cheating in university and unethical behavior at the workplace (Sims, 1993; McCabe, Butterfield, Trevino, 1996; Nonis & Swift, 2001).
Despite the evidence of the frightening magnitude of academic dishonesty entailing aforementioned negative effects, there is no any information about the determinants of cheating and plagiarism in Russian universities, especially ones connected with characteristics of universities. The knowledge about stimuli for students to be honest while studying, in turn, may become an essential resource for correction of the educational policy aimed at improving the quality of graduates.
Following adherents of the economic approach to explain academic dishonesty elaborated initially by Becker (1968), I regard the decision to cheat as a result of rational calculation of costs and benefits accompanying a particular action (see e.g. Michaels & Miethe, 1989; Bunn, Caudill, Gropper, 1992; Mixon 1996). In this regard, I assume that some individual characteristics of students, and characteristics of a university environment, being constructed by students, faculty, and administrators in collaboration, may affect the ratio of costs and benefits of engaging in unethical behavior.
Individual characteristics to be considered in this study are 1) student diligence in relation to learning, 2) student engagement in research activity, 3) student career and educational aspirations, and several socio-demographic control variables (gender, major, year of study, academic achievement, employment).
The uniqueness of the study lies in the fact that, in addition to students, faculty teaching in the same universities also were surveyed. Aggregated answers on the questions about their attitudes toward cheating and plagiarism among their students (preference for either ‘soft’ or severe penalties for dishonesty) will be considered as indicators affecting students’ perception of the severity of punishment. For students evaluating the potential severity of punishment as low, it is much easier to cheat due to relatively low costs (see, e.g., McCabe & Trevino, 1997; McCabe, Butterfield, Trevino, 2006).
Faculty were also asked about their perception of incidence of cheating and plagiarism among their students. Their evaluation is supposed to reflect the power of ‘coordination effect’ in university - ‘the more consistently a norm is observed in society, the greater the costs incurred by an individual deviating from it’ (Magnus, 2002, p. 131).
Another indicator to be considered – the likelihood of detection plagiarism. Faculty members’ actions aimed at combating academic dishonesty among students, for instance, checking written works for plagiarism, may affect student’s perceived costs to choose a dishonest strategy. I, therefore, hypothesize that the students studying in universities where faculty tend to check their papers for plagiarism are less likely to do it.
The purpose of the study is to identify determinants of plagiarism and cheating among undergraduate students of Russian universities, in particular, to explore how aforementioned characteristics of the educational environment and individual characteristics of students affect their resolution of ethical dilemma – cheat or not to cheat.
1. Brandão M., Teixeira A. C. (2005). Crime without Punishment: An Update Review of the Determinants of Cheating Among University Students. Research, Work in Progress, 191, 1-31. 2. Bunn, D. N., Caudill, S. B., Gropper D. M. (1992). Crime in the classroom: an economic analysis of undergraduate student cheating behavior. Journal of economic education, 23(3), 197-207. 3. Efimova, G. Z. (2013) Analiz osnovnyh strategij borby s proyavleniyami nedobrosovestnosti v nauke i obrazovanii. Sovremennye issledovaniya socialnyh problem, 2(22). 4. Magnus, J. R., Polterovich, V. M., Danilov, D. L., & Savvateev, A. V. (2002). Tolerance of cheating: An analysis across countries. The Journal of Economic Education, 33(2), 125-135. 5. McCabe D. L., Butterfield K. D., Trevino L. K. (2006). Academic Dishonesty in Graduate Business Programs: Prevalence, Causes, and Proposed Action. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 5(3), 294-305. 6. McCabe D. L., Trevino L. K. (1997). Individual and Contextual Influences on Academic Dishonesty: a Multicampus Investigation, Research in Higher Education, 38(3) 379-396. 7. Michaels J. W., Miethe T. D. (1989). Applying Theories of Deviance to Academic Cheating. Social Science Quarterly, 70(4), 870-885. 8. Mixon, F.G. (1996). Crime in the classroom: an extension. The journal of economic education, 27(3), 195-200. 9. Nonis S., Swift C. O. (2001). An Examination of the Relationship Between Academic Dishonesty and Workplace Dishonesty: A Multicampus Investigation. Journal of Education for Business, 77(2), 69-77. 10. Sims R. L. (1993). The Relationship between Academic Dishonesty and Unethical Business Practices. Journal of Education for Business, 68(4), 207-211.
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