Students' Perceptions of Cheating and Plagiarism: A Case Study

Students' Perceptions of Cheating and Plagiarism: A Case Study

Mihaela Badea (Petroleum-Gas University of Ploiesti, Romania) and Diana Presada (Petroleum-Gas University of Ploiesti, Romania)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1610-1.ch012
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There has been much discussion about the phenomenon of cheating in the system of education in general and in Higher Education (HE) in particular. Current research has analyzed this aspect from various viewpoints noting either the factors leading to such a phenomenon or the appropriate measures conducive to its elimination or diminution. As a result, the authors considered the moral side of the phenomenon explaining it as a fraudulent activity that should be corrected by means of rules and regulations established by each institution. Another aspect discussed in this chapter is an analysis of the existing norms regarding cheating at the academic level, by comparing various policies and procedures adopted by several Romanian universities. The purpose of such an enterprise consists in finding out the best solutions to the issue of dishonest behavior in universities in order to promote Academic Integrity (AI) among university staff and students.
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Throughout the years there has been a constant concern about the phenomenon of cheating present either in Higher Education (HE) or in the education system in general. Current research has analyzed this issue from various perspectives highlighting both the factors leading to academic misconduct and the appropriate measures conducive to its elimination or diminution, such as norms of good behavior to be followed and punishments for their violation. The punitive dimension of educational policies has often been completed by the necessity to assure students’ moral development within various classes or educational programs designed for this purpose.

In spite of educators’ efforts, academic misconduct continues to be a serious phenomenon affecting the educational process in many universities no matter the country, region or continent. Taking into account the fact that nowadays technology plays an important role in students’ life, cheating possibilities are more numerous and subtle, and more easily to use than in the past. That is why, in the absence of careful detection methods, many of them also involving technology, the most attentive invigilators may find it difficult to discover the ingenious cheating techniques which students frequently resort to, especially during examinations. Moreover, if special computer programs or other detecting methods were not used, it would be extremely hard and time-consuming to identify plagiarism in written works and assignments.

The high or low degree of morality of students’ behavior may determine the course of their future professional life, as well as of their personality as human beings. Educators play a tremendously important role not only in preventing and stopping cheating and other forms of misconduct, but also in molding moral beliefs and correct attitudes to learning and working inside and outside the academic environment. It depends on educators to find the best strategies to obtain students’ cooperation and support for establishing a highly qualitative educational process that will have a long-term effect.

In the light of the ideas expressed above, the purpose of the chapter is to examine academic dishonesty and its forms of manifestation in HE starting from the perceptions of cheating provided by several groups of students enrolled in four Romanian universities. Trying to evaluate students’ degree of internalization of moral integrity and professionalism in the academic environment, the analysis is based on focus groups that show the extent to which students engage in cheating and their reasons for resorting to unethical behavior. As the discussions reveal learners’ behavior and beliefs, they are good indicators of their awareness of academic misconduct and its implications in the educational process as well as in their future development. It is true that the collected data may be subjective, and therefore not wholly trustworthy, because learners generally tend to ‘hide’ the truth when the topic of cheating is under discussion.

As to the phenomenon of plagiarism, the chapter pays particular attention to students’ opinions about this matter, in an attempt to find out if they have knowledge of the meaning of this concept and how much they plagiarize, especially in the case of the written assignments given by their teachers. Based on the same information, the chapter aims to investigate the causes that make students cheat, attempting to provide suggestions for preventing such a phenomenon. Moreover, the analysis of a set of legal measures to combat inappropriate conduct during examinations may offer educators useful strategies to assure morally sane learning conditions at academic level.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Plagiarism: The result of partially or totally copying and appropriating somebody’s words, ideas, creations etc. and presenting them as belonging to you.

Academic Misconduct: Any form of dishonest behavior at university level.

Focus Group: Research method involving guided discussions on a given topic.

Cheating: Students’ trial to pass an examination by using unfair and dishonest means.

Humanities: Academic subjects dealing with human culture such as modern and classical languages, literature, philosophy, history etc.

Regulation: A set of official rules issued by universities.

Sanction: Any form of punishment in case of academic misconduct.

Fraud: Any form of cheating in the context of an academic environment.

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