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Analysis of Cheating on Academic Assignments


Instances of cheating on study guide assignments were observed for 245 college students. Mean cheating rate was 50.8% (i.e., the typical student cheated on about half the study guide questions). Cheating on assignments tended to increase across the semester and was associated with lower grades on exams. The typical student’s tendency to cheat varied considerably across the semester, suggesting that transient setting factors were major determinants of cheating on assignments. Admission of cheating was increased by reinforcement, but this increase in admissions did not result in a corresponding change in rates of cheating. A positive correlation was found between cheating and admission of cheating, except when penalties were instated for admissions. Neither an honor pledge nor values counseling (involving confrontation about actual rates of cheating) diminished cheating. In fact high-rate cheaters generally did not even bother to attend the scheduled counseling sessions.

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Gardner, W.M., Roper, J.T., Gonzalez, C.C. et al. Analysis of Cheating on Academic Assignments. Psychol Rec 38, 543–555 (1988).

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