The role of self-efficacy for self-regulated learning, achievement goals, and engagement in academic cheating

  • Vanja PutarekEmail author
  • Nina Pavlin-Bernardić


This study examined the relationships between motivational beliefs, defined as self-efficacy for self-regulated learning and achievement goals, engagement and academic cheating in the context of learning biology. Gender differences across these variables were also examined and both active and second-party types of cheating were included. Based on the hierarchical model of achievement motivation, we hypothesized that achievement goals and engagement would play a mediating role between self-efficacy for self-regulated learning and academic cheating. Participants were 283 high school students from Croatia. Data were collected using (1) the Self-Efficacy for Self-Regulated Learning Scale, (2) the Achievement Goals Scale (subscales: mastery-approach, mastery-avoidance, performance-approach, performance-avoidance, work-avoidance), (3) the Engagement in Learning Biology Scale (subscales: behavioural, cognitive, and emotional engagement), and (4) the Academic Cheating Scale (subscales: active and second-party cheating). The results demonstrated that girls exhibited higher self-efficacy for self-regulated learning, mastery achievement goals, and engagement, while boys exhibited higher work-avoidance goals. No gender differences were found in academic cheating. Mediational analysis revealed that behavioral engagement was a mediator between self-efficacy for self-regulated learning and active cheating. The findings of the present study demonstrate the importance of motivation and engagement in understanding academic cheating and in preventing this unethical behavior.


Academic cheating Achievement goals Self-efficacy for self-regulated learning Engagement Biology 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisboa and Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of PsychologyUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia

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