The Future of Academic Honesty – Paper

The paper examines academic dishonesty among college students training to be teachers. The study uncovers through actor analysis four salient dimensions of cheating namely Flagrant Cheating, Insidious Cheating, Collusion and Illicit Collaboration. It also uncovers the key motivators of cheating, identifies relevant individual characteristics and demonstrates their relation to the salient dimensions of cheating Policy implications are also discussed to improve ethics education. INTRODUCTION Cheating in America used to be an aberration.

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Today, however, the culture of cheating in America has permeated many facets of our lives, from businesses engaging in dishonest practices to Coos and politicians cheating and news porters fabricating quotes and reporting fiction as fact. Schools have not been exempt from these kinds of behavior. High school and grade school students have been found to engage in dishonest behaviors (Green & Saxes, 1992; Made, 1992; Sims, 1993; Brown & Abramson, 1999; coverall & Henning, 2000; Brown & McClellan, 2001) and there are studies which report increases over the years (McCabe & Terrine, 1993; Callahan, 2004).

However, it is perhaps the reporting of cheating among school administrators and teachers of our young children that have brought home just how pervasive and serious this epidemic really is. School administrators and teachers have been caught cheating on standardized tests, in reporting inflated gains in student test scores and learning and in manipulating statistical information (Jacob & Levity, 2003; Starters, 2005). Schools have always played a crucial role in preparing our youth to be responsible world citizens.

While many will agree that guidance counselors and parents are the key players in providing a child’s moral compass, the opportunity of the classroom teacher in his or her daily interaction with the student to provide positive influence should not be overlooked (Chalice, 2004; Halverson, 2004). As such, the conduct of students training to be teachers becomes relevant for scrutiny. More specifically, an investigation of the cheating behavior of education students as well as their motivation for engaging in these behaviors becomes pertinent.

Academy Of Educational Ultrasonically, Volume 11, Number 2, 2007 92 While the literature offers good insights into the relationship between various specific acts of cheating and individual characteristics as well as into specific reasons for engaging in these deviant behaviors, it has generally omitted to uncover the underlying salient dimensions or commonalities mongo these behaviors and motivations that will help us understand more fully the practice and motivation of these behaviors.

The purpose of this paper is to investigate cheating among college students preparing to be teachers by uncovering the salient dimensions of cheating and the key determinants of these dimensions. The paper will also identify the key motivators for cheating and demonstrate their relationship to participating in the various dimensions of cheating. METHODOLOGY A questionnaire was constructed incorporating sixteen unethical academic practices which were selected based on a review of current literature.

Respondents were asked to indicate their participation in each of these practices on a six-point Liker scale. The questionnaire also included twelve reasons students might engage in unethical academic practices. These were also taken from current literature. Respondents were asked to rate On a five-point scale the likelihood that each of these reasons was the impetus for a students unethical behavior. The sample consisted of 198 students in teacher education classes at a private university in the northeast.

Each questionnaire was placed in an unmarked envelope. Completed questionnaires were replaced in these envelopes and sealed by the student. The questionnaires were voluntarily completed during class time. Students who declined to participate were encouraged to engage in other reading or writing activities. Respondents were assured that their responses were confidential and anonymous. The average age of the respondents was 28 years.

About 80% of the respondents were females and more than 80% were registered for more than twelve credits. The mean and the mode of salary expectations were between $30,001 and $35,000 with more than a quarter of the respondents (28%) expecting salaries between $35,001 to 540,000. RESULTS Uncovering the salient dimensions of academic dishonesty In order to uncover the salient dimensions of academic dishonesty, the sixteen dishonest practices were submitted to factor analysis.

Factor analysis is a procedure for summarizing the information ratings on the sixteen practices into a smaller number of salient dimensions which can then be identified as the dimension underlying the respondents’ ratings. It is in this way that the commonalities in responses are effectively discerned. Four factors were extracted which had an Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, Volume 1 1, Number 2, 2007 3 generally more than one. The results of the factor analysis, after applying the Bavaria rotation, are summarized in Table 1 .

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