A Comprehensive Literature Review on Cheating

A Comprehensive Literature Review on Cheating

Aditya Simha (University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, Whitewater, WI, USA) and John B. Cullen (Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/ijcee.2012100102


This article provides a comprehensive review of the literature on academic dishonesty and cheating. The different kinds of cheating behaviors and the factors associated with them are delineated and described. Suggestions are provided on how to take corrective and proactive decisions to control and thereby reduce academic dishonesty and cheating.
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I would prefer even to fail with honor than to win by cheating – Sophocles

If the entire world and all of its denizens were to follow and truly abide by the admirable words of Sophocles listed above, then perhaps the world would be a much nicer, pleasanter, and better place to live in. But alas, that is sadly not the case! We live in a world where there is rampant corruption, a seemingly disdainful attitude towards ethics, and where one needs to be careful in dealings with other individuals, as it is always possible that one could end up getting fleeced if not careful in such transactions. Similarly, it becomes increasingly obvious that students who cheat in school are very likely to continue their cheating ways well into other situations, including workplace transactions (e.g. Swift & Nonis, 1998, p. 4).

Unfortunately, this situation is also very rampant in colleges and universities and other such academic settings, including elementary, secondary, and post-secondary educational contexts (Aasheim, Rutner, Li, & Williams, 2012; Firmin, Burger, & Blosser, 2009; Jones, 2011; McCabe, Butterfield, & Trevino, 2012). And a rather sobering statistic reveals that this trend of cheating is ever increasing rather than reducing in frequency (Firmin et al., 2009). Similarly, Iyer and Eastman (2006) mention the increasing rate of academic dishonesty, even though the ranges do seem to differ depending on the researcher/study. McCabe and Trevino (1997) offer an estimated range from about 13% to about 95%, whereas Park (2003) states that about 50% of students cheat. Kidwell, Wozniak, and Laurel (2003) and Chapman, Davis, Toy, and Wright (2004) all found that about 75% of students cheated. Nonis and Swift (1998) found a similar percentage (63%) of students cheating. McCabe, Butterfield, and Trevino (2006) reported that about 56% of graduate students and 47% of undergraduate students engaged in some form of dishonest or cheating behavior.

This kind of endemic academic dishonesty and cheating is not peculiar only to a particular country, but is indeed prevalent in several different countries (spanning the globe), and in several contexts (both undergraduate and graduate students), as well as both public and private schools of all sizes (Park, 2003). For instance, Duke University shot into the public limelight in a rather unsavory fashion in 2007, after about 10% of the graduating class of 2008 was caught cheating on a final exam (Conlin, 2007; Simkin & McLeod, 2010). About, 69% of surveyed Russian business students reported having cheated (Lupton, Chapman, & Weiss, 2002), whereas Grimes (2004) reported that about 74% of undergraduate students from eight Eastern European countries (part of the erstwhile Soviet Union) had personally engaged in cheating during their college education. 84% of surveyed Slovakian students too reported that they had engaged in cheating behaviors (Lupton, Chapman, & Weiss, 2000). Gbadamosi (2004) demonstrated that a high percentage (56%) of his sample of students from Swaziland and Botswana also indicated that they were prepared to do anything to excel in exams, even if those methods were unethical and dishonest. Teixeria & Rocha (2010) did find that Scandinavian students appeared to cheat lesser than did their British or East European counterparts, but on the whole, they too cheat, just at a reduced level. Taradi, Taradi, & Dogas (2012) too found that Croatian medical students appear to find academic dishonesty acceptable behavior.

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