Everybody's Doing It: Perceptions of Academic Dishonesty on Campus

Everybody's Doing It: Perceptions of Academic Dishonesty on Campus

Minqi Pan (North Texas State Hospital, USA), Teresa C. Tempelmeyer (Midwestern State University, USA), Beverly L. Stiles (Midwestern State University, USA) and Kara Vieth (Midwestern State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7531-3.ch006

Abstract

Researchers focusing on academic dishonesty (AD) have suggested the power of peer influence in predicting cheating behaviors. Cheating has been found to occur mostly when it is perceived as normative. Students' overestimation of the extent to which their peers cheat, as well as their beliefs that cheating would not lead to consequences, has been found to reinforce AD. Primarily employing Bandura's social learning theory (SLT), the current authors present an in-depth discussion of the variables hypothesized to contribute to the factors involved in the acquisition and maintenance of cheating behaviors. The authors present the results of a 2018 study examining cheating behaviors by students attending a state-supported university in the United States (US). Students' perceptions that their peers cheated, and their belief that cheating was an acceptable means of coping with academic pressure, were significant predictors of cheating. Potential intervention strategies are discussed, as are future research directions regarding peer influences on AD.
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Background

Characteristics of College Students Today

Before we begin considering the theories that could potentially explain peer influence on AD, it may be worthwhile to provide a broader context by discussing some of the more relevant characteristics of today’s college students. Judging by the years in which they were born, today’s college students may fall under two categories: those who are about to graduate or have spent some time in college may be referred to as ‘Generation Y’ or ‘Millennials’ (Stein, 2013). Those who just graduated from high school, or are still at early years in their college or university study would be considered ‘Generation Z’. Past researchers investigated some of the characteristics of Millennials, particularly those that could influence their performance in academia and the workplace. For example, it was noted that, compared to previous generations, Millennials tend to feel special because they have grown up being told they were special (Rickes, 2010; Stein, 2013; DeBard, 2004). This feeling of specialness is assumed to have led to a sense of entitlement (Rickes, 2010) and higher self-esteem (Twenge, 2006).

Further, Millennials have been found to be more confident about their future, expect good things to happen, and have been told to believe in themselves (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002). Although they are more confident and have higher self-esteem, Millennials are team-oriented, which is evidenced by their social-connectedness with cell phones and other technologies (DeBard, 2004), and their proclivity to choose campuses that are full of students much like themselves (Howe & Strauss, 2007). Finally, Millennials need achievement, which they perceive as being critically dependent on their performance (Howe & Strauss, 2000). Therefore, they are ‘under pressure to get good grades, to excel in extracurricular activities, and to get into the right colleges’ (Keeling, 2003, p. 32), which may lead to stress or depression, and engagement in further risky behaviors.

The empirical research on Generation Z is minimal so far; we can only infer some of their characteristics from various media outlets such as newspapers and blogs. Nevertheless, some attributes of this newer generation have been discussed. To summarize, it has been found that Generation Z as a cohort may be even more competitive than Millennials, and want to be catered to, suggesting a sense of entitlement (8 Ways Generation Z Will Differ, 2017). Moreover, they are said to be more global and likely to have friends who are more culturally diverse (8 Key Differences Between Gen, 2016). In all, we hope that, through more discussion regarding the characteristics of college students today, we can provide readers with a more precise understanding of a larger context under which peer influence on AD is better understood.

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