Open and distance learning systems (ODLS) brought about immeasurable advancement in the delivery of education. Albeit all the benefits ODLS offers, there are some issues that need to be addressed. One of the most prevalent issues is the problem of persistent academic dishonesty. Much research effort has been devoted to explain why students commit acts of dishonesty, but there is limited research done on why faculty members do not take on a stronger position against it. This chapter offers cases of ODLS misconducts at an American University, the process that faculty members took to document academic dishonesty, the appeals process used by students, and the consequences of dishonesty. This chapter provides insights from faculty faced with dishonesty. It also addresses what administrators should do to support their faculty in curbing dishonesty in their institutions.
Cheating on campus is not a new phenomenon, nor is it limited to higher education. Evidence of cheating in U.S. schools was reported by the Centre for Academic Integrity at Duke University and the Rutgers’ Management Education Centre to have increased in the last 10 years and 75% of all college students confessed to cheating at least once (Bushweller, 1999; Kleiner & Lord, 1999; Niels, 1997; Olt, 2002; Slobogin, 2002). McCabe indicated a 200% increase in cheating since the early 1960s (as cited in Carroll, 2002). Koch found that 20-30% of undergraduate students cheat regularly (Koch, 2002). According to McCabe, “... these results indicate that dishonesty appears to not carry the stigma that it used to” (as cited in Koch, 2002). Kleiner and Lord (1999) concur and found that 50% of those who had never been caught cheating also believe that there is nothing wrong with cheating.
The advancement of technology created a new venue for educational institutions to offer new delivery formats to accommodate the needs of an increasing number of people returning to schools. Although there are many advantages of electronically delivered education, there are also the unfortunate and unforeseen problems of dishonesty due to availability, ease of obtaining material illegally, and companies aggressively enticing students to cut corners. Heberling (2002) documented the availability of papers and custom-tailored assignments available to students for purchase from digital paper mills such as Schoolsucks.com, PaperTopics.com, and Cheathouse.com. Academic dishonesty through technology was also reported in a survey conducted at Rutgers, which found that 50% of their students plagiarized Internet resources they used (Slobogin, 2002).