In most of the learning institutions around the world, academic dishonesty is quite common among students from different faculties. The development of the internet, as well as widespread use of phones, has facilitated the learners’ access and transmission of information in a dishonest manner. Academic fraud refers to the activities the students engage in that are totally not aligned with the institution’s norms and traditions.
Most institutions have outlined their principles regarding academic dishonesty as well as the punishment to be given in case a student has engaged in such vices. Academic dishonesty began when the first tests were administered to the students. Studies indicate that around 20% of learners in the United States began to engage in academic dishonesty right from the first grade. In the middle school, over 57% of the students have cheated in their academics either through assignments given to them or in exams CITATION PCa12 \l 1033 (Castillo, 2012).
In high school, the number is even higher. Academic dishonesty gained popularity in the 20th century. This because most of the learning institutions began embracing a more liberal and democratic approach in terms of identifying the students they admit to the universities.
Academic dishonesty does not point at a specific act to form its definition. It encompasses a variety of activities depending on the views and traditions of the academic institution. This, therefore, means that there is no universally accepted definition of academic dishonesty CITATION SKT12 \l 1033 (Taradi, et al., 2012). This paper tries to highlight how students perceive academic dishonesty and their view towards this particular vice.
Academic dishonesty can be categorized into three distinct groups: Collusion in an examination room, cheating as well as plagiarism. Cheating and plagiarism are quite synonymous among students who are young as they copy each other’s assignments or academic work of other scholars CITATION BFi13 \l 1033 (Fink, 2013). Cheating is done especially in an examination room when students illegally share information regarding the ongoing exams.
Over the years, students have devised means and ways of engaging in exam cheating. Some enter into an examination room with some pieces of scribbled notes which they constantly refer to while the exam is ongoing. Some even hide these papers at strategic locations outside the exam room CITATION JMi15 \l 1033 (Minarcik & Bridges, 2015). It may be in the washrooms where they can refer to them in the pretense of going for either long or short calls.
Some students with long hair even keep them in between their hair only to remove them when the supervisor is not paying keen attention to them while others literally discuss the answers to the questions provided in the exam before the elapse of the period set aside for the paper to end. Other students may not be actively involved in the malpractice, but they aid the vice especially when they do not report the cases they observe to the supervisors. Cheating is completely different from other kinds of academic dishonesty as it doesn’t advantage the student academically in any way CITATION TAB11 \l 1033 (Babu, et al., 2011).
Plagiarism, on the other hand, involves the use or blatant copying of ideas, thoughts, and language of another scholar without crediting the source and presenting them for validation as if they are your original work. Plagiarism as a concept emerged in the 18th century, and prior to this realization, individuals were strongly advised to copy their masters and not come up with new innovations.
Currently, plagiarism is regarded as academic dishonesty and individuals are encouraged to think deeply so as to generate new ideas that elicit positive contributions to the academic spectrum. Plagiarism is not regarded as a criminal offense, but it is not ethical for individuals to copy one’s ideas and claim that he is the original author. It is therefore discouraged on moral grounds CITATION JUn03 \l 1033 (Underwood & Szabo, 2003). In case an author has found a substantial amount of plagiarism in another person’s work, the individual will be pursued through civil law and may attract a good amount in terms of fines.
Cheating is not regarded as circumstantial because students keep devising ways and means to carry out this particular vice. This is mainly attributed to the manner in which it is easier to access the internet and bequeath themselves with resources from websites and academic journals through their phones and wireless devices available to them CITATION MBr16 \l 1033 (Brimble, 2016). The escalation of this practice is mainly attributed to peer influence as well as the availability of websites facilitating plagiarism. There is also a sense in which students feel pressurized to attain academic excellence hence they do everything possible to ensure they attain such academic qualifications.
Due to lack a clearly defined sort of punishment, students continue to engage in it. Some students don’t even know or understand what plagiarism even mean therefore they end up being punished for what they clearly don’t understand CITATION RDL13 \l 1033 (LaDuke, 2013). Some students are engaged in some other activities that are not related to academics. These activities consume quite a substantial amount of their time hence they are not able to properly concentrate on doing proper research which leads to the generation of new ideas and thoughts.
According to CITATION DLM09 \l 1033 (McCabe, 2009), curriculum is also a contributor to this as it is full of contents that do not allow the students to think as there are a lot of lessons to be attended and each lesson requires maximum concentration making the student exhausted. Some students are forced to copy because of the limited time provided for the completion of the assignment provided.
There is also the urge by the students to meet the requirements of the career path they have chosen. It is important to note that these unethical behaviors often translate to poor work ethics as the students will not be properly trained by the end of the course work CITATION MWi12 \l 1033 (Witherspoon, et al., 2012). They will find it difficult to address some of the challenges they will experience at the workplace.
Materials and Methods
A questionnaire was designed and given to the students at both Naval Postgraduate School and Georgetown University. This was done because the research needed honest feedback mainly from the students who are faced with these problems on a daily basis. 50 students submitted their questionnaires which were later analyzed using SPSS. The research also involved the lecturers who were interviewed just in getting their overall view on this subject matter.
Cheating survey: This has three sections where the first section has 5 questions examining how often the students and their colleagues engage in this vice. Part two of the questionnaire tries to substantiate the real reasons as to why the students resort to cheating especially in the exam room. The students are required to outline at least 7 reasons why cheating occurs in the learning institutions. The last section of this particular questionnaire has only one question which only tries to get the opinion of the student with regards to cheating in learning institutions especially the universities.
Plagiarism survey: Just like the cheating survey, it consists of three sections with the first part trying to evaluate whether the students understand the meaning of plagiarism. It also tries to find out how often the students have found themselves engaging in plagiarism. The next section tries to find where the students get the materials; they use in carrying out research which sometimes they find themselves to have plagiarized. Section three seeks the student’s opinion concerning the ethical nature of plagiarism.
The outcome of the survey
The results show that around 15% of the learners have engaged in exam cheating at least once in their academic lives. Around 55% of the correspondents have admitted engaging in it due to the pressure of performing in their exams. 6% reported having one way or the other hide the materials in their clothing. 50% have involved their instructors in providing them with hints during tests. About 22% have engaged other people before to do the work on their behalf. Approximately 9% have altered the marks recorded by the examiners.
Babu, T.A., Joseph, N.M. and Sharmila, V., 2011. Academic dishonesty among undergraduates from private medical schools in India. Are we on the right track?. Medical teacher, 33(9), pp.759-761.
Minarcik, J. and Bridges, A.J., 2015. Psychology graduate students weigh in: Qualitative analysis of academic dishonesty and suggestion prevention strategies. Journal of Academic Ethics, 13(2), pp.197-216.
Underwood, J. and Szabo, A., 2003. Academic offences and e‐learning: individual propensities in cheating. British Journal of Educational Technology, 34(4), pp.467-477.
McCabe, D.L., 2009. Academic dishonesty in nursing schools: An empirical investigation. Journal of Nursing Education, 48(11), pp.614-623.
Brimble, M., 2016. Why students cheat: an exploration of the motivators of student academic dishonesty in higher education. Handbook of academic integrity, pp.365-382.
Taradi, S.K., Taradi, M. and Đogaš, Z., 2012. Croatian medical students see academic dishonesty as an acceptable behaviour: a cross-sectional multicampus study. Journal of medical ethics, pp.medethics-2011.
Witherspoon, M., Maldonado, N. and Lacey, C.H., 2012. Undergraduates and academic dishonesty. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 3(1).
Castillo, P., 2012. 1 About the course. Chemical Engineering, 4, p.6C3.
LaDuke, R.D., 2013. Academic dishonesty today, unethical practices tomorrow?. Journal of Professional Nursing, 29(6), pp.402-406.
Fink, B., 2013. Conceptual framework.
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