A Study of Cheating Beliefs, Engagement, and Perception – The Case of Business and Engineering Students

Abstract

Studies have found that academic dishonesty is widespread. Of particular interest is the case of business students since many are expected to be the leaders of tomorrow. This study examines the cheating behaviors and perceptions of 819 business and engineering students at three private Lebanese universities, two of which are ranked as the top two universities in the country. Our results show that cheating is pervasive in the universities to an alarming degree. We first analyzed the data by looking at the variables gender, college (business vs. engineering), GPA, and whether the students had taken the business ethics course. We then supplemented this analysis by building an ordered logistic regression model to test whether these independent variables affect the level of engagement in cheating behavior when we control for the other variables. The results show that males engage in cheating more than females and that students with a lower GPA engage in cheating more. We initially find a difference between business and engineering students, but once we control for the other variables, this difference ceases to exist. Our most surprising result is that the business ethics course seems to have a detrimental effect on the cheating behavior of students. Finally, we find that perception plays a key role in defining the behavior of students. The more that students perceive that others are engaging in a certain behavior, the higher the probability that they will engage in the behavior, even if they believe that this behavior constitutes cheating.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Because the number of students in each category was different since most students tended to be grouped in the middle categories, we recoded the variable GPA, but this time, instead of us picking the ranges of grades for each category, we let the statistical software divide the observations into five equal groups. When we reanalyzed the trend using the new categories, we obtained the same results. Therefore, these results are robust.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Lara El Bachouti for helping us in the data collection.

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Appendix 1

Appendix 1

To test the robustness of the best-fitting model from the ordered logistic regression analysis, we reanalyzed the data using different regression methods. The dependent variable engage can take on integer values ranging from 0 to 14. Two possible alternatives to ordered logistic regression are Poisson models and linear regression

Therefore, we refit Model 7 from Table 6, but this time, instead of ordered logistic regression, we used Poisson regression and linear regression. Table 7 shows the values of the coefficients for each of the variables and the level of significance. We also include the results of the ordered logistic regression in order to compare the three models. We observe that for all models, while there are differences in magnitude, the signs and significance of the variables are exactly the same, thus illustrating that the results are indeed robust. In addition, the AIC and BIC statistics for the ordered logistic regression are lower, indicating that this model is better than the others, thus providing further justification for our use of this type of regression.

Table 7 Comparison of coefficients and significance of ordered logistic regression, Poisson regression, and linear regression

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Ghanem, C.M., Mozahem, N.A. A Study of Cheating Beliefs, Engagement, and Perception – The Case of Business and Engineering Students. J Acad Ethics 17, 291–312 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-019-9325-x

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Keywords

  • Academic dishonesty
  • Cheating
  • Cheating in business schools
  • Ethics
  • Lebanon