College Students: Cheating and Morality

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Academic dishonesty is a threat to every student and every institution of higher education. The very act runs contrary to the fundamental values of higher education (Bowers, 1964). Dishonesty compromises the integrity of the individual student as well as the reputation of the institution (Engler, Landau, & Epstein, 2008; Gallant, 2008).

Many researchers have indicated that cheating is a serious problem on campuses (Bowers, 1964; Engler et al., 2008; Gallant, 2008; Leming, 1978; McCabe, Trevino, & Butterfield, 2001). Studies completed by Bowers (1964) and McCabe and Trevino (1996) revealed nearly identical results regarding student-cheating behavior despite the 30 year time span; both studies identified that approximately 70% of students have cheated. Recent findings, however, indicate that college students are cheating more often, in different ways (mostly because of advances in technology), while the perceived seriousness of cheating has decreased (McCabe & Trevino, 1996; Stephens, Young, & Calabrese, 2007).

Promoting academic integrity and developing students morally are integral functions of higher education institutions (Whitley & Keith-Spiegel, 2001). Every stakeholder of the institution, students, faculty, administration, and staff, must recognize and incorporate the value of ethical behavior; without a campus-wide effort, dishonesty will prevail (Whitley & Keith-Spiegel, 2001). Currently, widespread research on academic dishonesty includes reasons for cheating and personal characteristics that may predict cheating behavior; however, very little research exists emphasizing the role moral development plays in cheating.

Problem Statement

Academic dishonesty has long been a problem on colleg...

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