Academic ethics is an umbrella concept which encompasses many issues.
On an institutional level, there is much discussion about the nature of a university, and whether it is affected by the commercial pressures to get more students (paying or paid for), whether business/university partnerships affect academic freedom, and what type of investments it is appropriate for a university to have.
On an individual level, the main focus of discussion in recent years has been on academic integrity, and the need to maintain a culture of honesty in all aspects of teaching and research.
Research ethics will be the subject of another article; here we shall deal with attempts to combat the rising level of student dishonesty, about which there has been concern on both sides of the Atlantic.
According to research presented in 2003 by Stephens and later published in the “The Psychology of Academic Cheating” (Elsevier, 2006), high school students cheat more when they see the teacher as less fair and caring and when their motivation in the course is more focused on grades and less on learning and understanding.
In addition, in a 1998 study of cheating with 285 middle school students, Ohio State University educational psychologist Eric Anderman, Ph D, co-editor with Tamara Murdock, Ph D, of “The Psychology of Academic Cheating,” found that how teachers present the goals of learning in class is key to reducing cheating. “When students feel like assignments are arbitrary, it’s really easy for them to talk themselves into not doing it by cheating,” Rettinger says.At UCSD, for example, all freshmen must complete an online tutorial on academic integrity before they can register for their second-semester classes.Professors are also encouraged to explain the importance of academic integrity in their syllabi and to take time during the first week of class to talk about the behaviors that constitute cheating in their courses, as well as the consequences for engaging in those behaviors.In the 1990s, Davis (1993) quoted surveys indicating that between 40 and 70 per cent of all students have reported cheating at some point in their career, while Pavela (1997) quoted Mc Cabe’s survey of over 4,000 students of whom between 47 per cent and 60 per cent admitted dishonesty: there is no sign that things are getting any better.This is not, of course, to say that academics are always guilt free in this area and we shall also point out ways in which they can encourage integrity by setting a good example.The statistics don’t get any better once students reach college. 1), researchers found that nearly 82 percent of a sample of college alumni admitted to engaging in some form of cheating as undergraduates.In surveys of 14,000 undergraduates conducted over the past four years by Donald Mc Cabe, Ph D, a business professor at Rutgers University and co-founder of Clemson University’s International Center for Academic Integrity, about two-thirds of students admit to cheating on tests, homework and assignments. Some research even suggests that academic cheating may be associated with dishonesty later in life. A 2009 survey, also by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, reports a further correlation: People who cheat on exams in high school are three times more likely to lie to a customer or inflate an insurance claim compared with those who never cheated.Several studies show that students who are more motivated than their peers by performance are more likely to cheat. “The less a topic matters to a person, or the more they are participating in it for instrumental reasons, the higher the risk for cheating.” Psychological research has also shown that dishonest behaviors such as cheating actually alter a person’s sense of right and wrong, so after cheating once, some students stop viewing the behavior as immoral. The more math problems they were able to answer correctly, the more cash they were allowed to take.“What we show is that as intrinsic motivation for a course drops, and/or as extrinsic motivation rises, cheating goes up,” says Middlebury College psychology professor Augustus Jordan, Ph D, who led a 2005 study on motivation to cheat ( Vol. In one condition, participants reported their own scores, which gave them an opportunity to cheat by misreporting.In Shu’s study on the morality of cheating, for example, she found that participants who passively read a generic honor code before taking a test were less likely to cheat on the math problems, though this step did not completely curb cheating.Among those who signed their names attesting that they’d read and understood the honor code, however, no cheating occurred.