A multi-faculty exploration of academic dishonesty
Keywords:Dishonest, academic fraud, learning behaviour, biomedical science
Background: Academic dishonesty by students, in a learning context, is known to occur, but remains a complex issue. What constitutes academic “cheating” may vary between institutions, cultures and attitudes. What is meant by dishonesty in academic contexts is also unclear. It may be related to factors such as advances in learning information technology, a greater movement towards coursework assessment, the relevance of programmes to future career aspirations, and more external factors such as culture, traditions and gender.
Method: We surveyed students from six different programmes at a multi-faculty university in the UKðn¼1162 students),using a previously validated, self-completion questionnaire. Results were subject to descriptive and comparative analysis.Students studying pharmacy, humanities, business, biomedical science, physiotherapy and education were sampled.
Results: The prevalence of admitted dishonest behaviours varied according to degree programme (ANOVA,p,0:0001Þand gender (t-test,p,0:001Þ:There was also variation in what is perceived as dishonest behaviour, with students being ambivalent about some behaviours (e.g. “cut and paste” from internet sources).
Conclusion: The extent of dishonest behaviour in this sample varied between the different faculties. There was also considerable variation between the types of dishonest behaviour exhibited by students. There is a clear need to further examine the causes and learning habits associated with cheating behaviour in higher education
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