Skip to main content

Advertisement

Log in

A Systemic Analysis of Cheating in an Undergraduate Engineering Mechanics Course

  • Original Paper
  • Published:
Science and Engineering Ethics Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Cheating in the undergraduate classroom is not a new problem, and it is recognized as one that is endemic to the education system. This paper examines the highly normative behavior of using unauthorized assistance (e.g., a solutions manual or a friend) on an individual assignment within the context of an upper division undergraduate course in engineering mechanics. The findings indicate that there are varying levels of accepting responsibility among the students (from denial to tempered to full) and that acceptance of responsibility can lead to identification of learning and necessary behavioral changes. The findings have implications for institutions and engineering faculty, in particular the need for consistent academic integrity education and the teaching of professional integrity and ethics.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. This approach to the data complied with the human subjects exempt approval by protecting student confidentiality and because we were using existing data, student permission was not required under the granted exempt status.

  2. We have chosen to replace the student identifiers with pseudonyms, which is standard practice in social science research when using the participants’ own words in the research write-up.

References

  • Alschuler, A. S., & Blimling, G. S. (1995). Curbing epidemic cheating through systemic change. College Teaching, 43(4), 123–125.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Berkowitz, A. D. (2004). The social norms approach: Theory, research and annotated bibliography. Retrieved January 11, 2012 from http://www.alanberkowitz.com/articles/social_norms.pdf.

  • Bertram Gallant, T. (2008). Academic integrity in the twenty-first century: A teaching and learning imperative. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bertram Gallant, T. (2009). Helping students learn from ethical failures. A Faculty Focus Seminar.

  • Bertram Gallant, T. (2011). Creating the ethical academy: A Systems approach to understanding misconduct and empowering change in higher education. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bertram Gallant, T., & Kalichman, M. (2011). Academic ethics. In T. Bertram Gallant’s (Ed.), Creating the ethical academy: A systems approach to understanding misconduct and empowering change in higher education (pp. 27–44). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brown, V. J., & Howell, M. E. (2001). The efficacy of policy statements on plagiarism: Do they change student views? Research in Higher Education, 42(1), 103–118.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Carpenter, D. D., Harding, T. S., Finelli, C. J., Montgomery, S. M., & Passow, H. J. (2006). Engineering students’ perceptions of and attitudes towards cheating. Journal of Engineering Education, 95(3), 181–194.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Davis, S. F., Drinan, P. F., & Bertram Gallant, T. (2009). Cheating in school: What we know and what we can do. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Davis, S. F., Grover, C. A., Becker, A. H., & McGregor, L. N. (1992). Academic dishonesty: Prevalence, determinants, techniques, and punishments. Teaching of Psychology, 19(1), 16–20.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goodchild, L. F. (2011). Enhancing individual responsibility in higher education: Embracing ethical theory in professional decision-making frameworks. In T. Bertram Gallant’s (Ed.), Creating the ethical academy: A systems approach to understanding misconduct and empowering change in higher education (pp. 135–152). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harding, T. S., Carpenter, D. D., Finelli, C. J., & Passow, H. J. (2004). Does academic dishonesty relate to unethical behavior in professional practice? An exploratory study. Science and Engineering Ethics, 10(2), 1–14.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jordan, A. E. (2001). College student cheating: The role of motivation, perceived norms, attitudes, and knowledge of institutional policy. Ethics and Behavior, 11(3), 233–247.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Josephson Institute. (2009). A study of values and behavior concerning integrity: The impact of age, cynicism and high school character. A report of the Josephson Institute of Ethics 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2012 from http://josephsoninstitute.org/surveys/index.html.

  • Konheim-Kalkstein, Y. L., Stellmack, M. A., & Shilkey, M. L. (2008). Comparison of honor code and non-honor code classrooms at a non-honor code university. Journal of College and Character, 9(3), 1–13.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McCabe, D. L. (2005). Cheating among college and university students: A North American perspective. International Journal of Educational Integrity, 1(1), 1–11.

    Google Scholar 

  • McCabe, D. L., & Treviño, L. K. (2002). Honesty and honor codes. Academe, 88(1). Retrieved from http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/academe/2002/JF/Feat/mcca.htm.

  • McCabe, D. L., Treviño, L. K., & Butterfield, K. D. (2002). Honor codes and other contextual influences on academic integrity: A replication and extension to modified honor code settings. Research in Higher Education, 43(3), 357–378.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Murdock, T. B., & Anderman, E. M. (2006). Motivational perspectives on student cheating: Toward an integrated model of academic dishonesty. Educational Psychologist, 41(3), 129–145.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nonis, S., & Swift, C. O. (2001). An examination of the relationship between academic dishonesty and workplace dishonesty: A multicampus investigation. Journal of Education for Business, 77(2), 69–77.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Passow, H. J., Mayhew, M. J., Finelli, C. J., Harding, T. S., & Carpenter, D. D. (2006). Factors influencing engineering students’ decisions to cheat by type of assessment. Research in Higher Education, 47(6), 643–684.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pulvers, K., & Diekhoff, G. M. (1999). The relationship between academic dishonesty and college classroom environment. Research in Higher Education, 40(4), 487–498.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Whitley, B. E., Jr. (1998). Factors associated with cheating among college students: A review. Research in Higher Education, 39(3), 235–274.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Whitley, B. E., Jr, & Keith-Spiegel, P. (2001). Academic integrity as an institutional issue. Ethics and Behavior, 11(3), 325–342.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tricia Bertram Gallant.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bertram Gallant, T., Van Den Einde, L., Ouellette, S. et al. A Systemic Analysis of Cheating in an Undergraduate Engineering Mechanics Course. Sci Eng Ethics 20, 277–298 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-013-9435-6

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-013-9435-6

Keywords

Navigation