Cultural Influences on Academic Sharing: A Challenge to Academic Honesty

Cultural Influences on Academic Sharing: A Challenge to Academic Honesty

Nancy D. Albers (Louisiana State University – Shreveport, USA) and Tami L. Knotts (Louisiana State University – Shreveport, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8286-1.ch012
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The purpose of this chapter is to examine student perspectives on academic sharing, in both online and face-to-face higher educational settings, focusing on generational and cross-national differences. In recent years, students have taken to excusing traditional acts considered to be cheating as benevolent acts of generosity and caring. This study empirically examines if engagement in cheating behavior, rationalization of unfair advantage, and acceptance of academic dishonesty are predictable using measures of age and culture. Specifically, the authors tested for differences between millennials and pre-millennials and differences between collectivistic and individualistic cultures. Not surprisingly, the results confirm that students engage in acts of academic dishonesty. This study indicated, however, that many students increasingly consider certain acts of academic dishonesty as appropriate behavior. Millennials and some students from more collectivistic countries are rationalizing damaging acts of cheating as common and acceptable. These students are systematically shifting blame for their bad acts onto others.
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Concurrent with the changes in the availability of proprietary class content, the makeup of the traditional student body is evolving (Latanich, Nonis, & Hudson, 2001; Bocchi et al., 2004; Colorado & Eberle, 2010). At many universities, increased class sizes have left professors with less time to monitor the classroom environment. The student body is increasingly non-traditional, which allows for learning from a diverse set of peers. While there are many definitions of diversity, classroom diversity includes a wide range of age, gender, racial, ethnic, and international composition. Subcultural diversity has also enhanced the classroom experience by bringing together multiple generations from baby boomers to millennials learning in the same classroom. While this provides a remarkable opportunity to join highly divergent individuals in one academic environment, it also creates a challenge regarding the perceptions of sharing versus academic dishonesty. Observation of classroom behavior and reviews of student conduct have given rise to a question regarding the degree to which subsets of students do not understand the concepts of academic dishonesty and the impact of providing/gaining an inappropriate advantage over their classmates in an educational environment.

Anecdotal evidence in the classroom has demonstrated a pattern of students referring to activities, which would have historically been identified as academic dishonesty by using the term “sharing” (White, 2003; Pulfrey, Durussel, & Butera, 2018). Academic sharing includes a wide range of concepts regarding peer-to-peer leaning but also interactions that would typically be considered cheating in a U.S. educational institution, such as posting the answers to an online exam that is ongoing, providing links to websites with answers to test bank questions, posting graded assignments with professor feedback, and submitting identical individual assignments from two or more people. All of these have been observed in face-to-face, hybrid, and/or online classes. The propensity for confusion between sharing and cheating requires us to review the literature on academic dishonesty.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Collectivism: A focus on the group rather than the individual.

Academic Sharing: Collaborating or colluding with others to provide or gain an academic advantage.

Cultural Diversity: Differences between individuals resulting from belonging to groups with shared values.

Millennial: Individual born between 1980 and 2000.

Entitlement: The belief that one deserves something or a has a right to it.

Collaboration: Sharing information at an acceptable level.

Collusion: Sharing information at an unacceptable level.

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