Tag Archives: Cheating

Online Academic Integrity

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Submitted by Samantha Mladen

Article Reference

Mastin, D., Peszka, J., & Lilly, D. (2009). Online academic integrity. Teaching of Psychology, 36(3), 174-178.

Article DOI

10.1080/00986280902739768

Summary of Article

Aim: Investigate whether academic pledges reduce the level of cheating in online assignments, and assess the overall rate of cheating in online assignments

Method: 439 introductory psychology students were recruited over three semesters. Participants were told that they would be completing an online motor task and that their earned extra credit would increase based on their score on the motor task. Participants were told that the computer program would not track their correct responses, and thus they were asked to self-report their correct response total.
Students were randomized to three experimental conditions: no pledge, check mark pledge, and written honor pledge

Results: 361 participants (82.2%) accurately reported their performance, 16 (3.6%) underreported their performance, and 62 (14.1%) overreported their performance.
Mean magnitude of cheating in the entire sample was 0.39/10 points (SD = 1.52), but the mean in the cheating sample was 3.08/10 points over-reporting (SD = 2.75).
Honor pledge condition had no effect on the rate of cheating in the overall sample, or in the cheating subset . Participants were 2.06 times more likely to cheat at the end of the semester than at the beginning, but time of semester did not affect the magnitude of cheating. When the required magnitude of overreporting to be considered cheating was increased (2 points out of 10 instead of 1 point out of 10) the percentage of students cheating dropped to 8.0%. This change was made to account for the presence of 13 students underreporting by 1 point – the authors allowed a larger margin of error in reporting before labelling over-reporting as cheating.

Discussion: Research is still needed to determine the actual rates of cheating on online assignments, and effective strategies to reduce rates of cheating. These efforts are becoming more important as more institutions and professors institute online courses and assessment methods. Though the external validity is not perfect, since most online exams are not self-report, the lack of significance of the honor pledge condition is troubling.

Discussion Questions

  1. Would you include a version of an honor pledge in your courses? Has your opinion changed as a result of reading this study?
  2. Forsyth cites a study that claims that more students say that they would be more likely to cheat online than the rates at which they actually cheat. What does this tell us about the way in which students approach online learning? How can we use this information to try to prevent cheating?
  3. Online learning brings with it tremendous opportunities to increase collaboration and team-based learning among students. How would you balance this opportunity with the reality that it may make cheating easier for students?

Online Academic Integrity

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Submitted by Athena Cairo

Article Reference

Mastin, D. F., Peszka, J., & Lilly, D. R. (2009). Online academic integrity. Teaching of Psychology, 36, 174-178. DOI: 10.1080/00986280902739768

Article DOI

10.1080/00986280902739768

Summary of Article

In this study, the authors investigated the extent to which students generally would tend to cheat on an online extra-credit assignment, and whether the time of the semester or signing an honor pledge might moderate these tendencies.

Background

In some older surveys of college students (1, 2), between 40 and 83% of students reported engaging in academic dishonesty at some point in their college career. Between 2%-13% of students reported having cheated in a traditional lecture course in which they were currently enrolled (3). Although slightly more than half of faculty and students think that it would be easier to cheat in an online setting (4), only 3% of students admitted to cheating in online courses (5). Additionally, reports suggest schools that have honor codes tend to have lower rates of cheating among the student body (6). In light of these points, the authors conducted an experiment to investigate the rates of cheating in their student body, and the effect of writing an honor code with the assignment (experimental condition), as well as the time of the semester on cheating rates (moderating variable). Specifically, the researchers hypothesized: 1. Being asked to agree to an honor pledges will discourage cheating 2. Students are more likely to cheat later in the semester than earlier in the semester

Methods

Participants were 439 undergraduate students taking an Intro to Psych class. Participants were tested over the course of three different time points, September 2005 (n = 141), May 2005 (n = 124), and May 2006 (n = 174).

Participants were told they could receive up to 10 bonus points for participating in the study, and were told it was a pilot study of a motor task. Upon signing up to participate, P’s were assigned to one of three pledge conditions: no pledge, check-mark pledge and typed-out pledge.

P’s accessed the motor task online, which was designed to be especially difficult (so students would have an incentive to cheat). P’s were told their points would be tied to their performance on the motor task, but als0 that the page could not track their performance on the task.

P’s completed the motor task or hitting a computer key when the correct number appeared on the screen. At the end of the task, participants reported their number of hits in a text box, allowing them to possibly cheat by over-reporting their successful hits. P’s were debriefed 7 days after participation.

Results

  • Fourteen percent of participants cheated by over-reporting their hits. Overall, participants in the group reported better performance than they obtained; t(438) = –5.37, p < .05, d = .26

  • Honor pledge conditions had no effect on cheating frequencies across all P’s, nor did it predict greater severity of cheating among those who did cheat.
  • Participants were twice as likely to cheat at the end of the semester than at the beginning χ2(2, N = 423) = 6.41, p <.05, Cramer’s V =.12. End vs. beginning of the semester did predict greater severity of cheating.

References:

(1) Bunn, Caudill, & Gropper, 1992; (2); Davis, Grover, Becker, & McGregor, 1992; (3) Kerkvliet & Sigmund, 1999; (4) Kennedy, Nowak, Raghuraman, Thomas, & Davis, 2000; (5) Grijalva, Nowell, & Kerkvliet, 2006; (6) McCabe, Trevino, & Butterfield, 2002

Discussion Questions

  1. Many students and faculty think it’s easier to cheat online than in a traditional lecture course– how could you as an instructor help prevent cheating on different types of assignments (e.g. research paper, tests, online quizzes) in both an online and a traditional lecture course?
  2. Do you think that having students write/sign an honor pledge helps prevent cheating at VCU? Would this maybe depend on different classroom contexts or types of assignment?
  3. Additionally, how can we help students not feel as stressed and compelled to cheat toward the end of the semester?

    Bonus question: Say you find a student who severely cheats or plagiarizes an assignment– what would you do? What if the student was someone you liked or knew was going through difficult circumstances?