Dishonesty and Ethical Issues in the academy

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Robert Hauptman who is a professor at St. Cloud State University states that according to the latest research "the academy" has a serious, and growing ethical problem. He cites several studies at major universities that conclude that there is a pervasive and alarming lack of "academic integrity", for not only students, but also teachers, and researchers too. He states that in an issue of Science News, on December 4, 1993, a study found that "44 percent of students and 50 percent of faculty" were cognizant of at least two types of unethical activity. The author gives many reasons for the causes he feels have perpetuated student cheating such as "lack of time, poverty, uncaring instructors, institutional bureaucracy, laziness, peer pressure, inability, poor role models, and fear of failure". Finally, he concludes that a primary reason students may be dishonest is the poor role models present in today's society. Some solutions he offers are that as a society we need to stress the importance of "academic honesty" in all grade levels, and throughout the student's academic experience. In addition, teachers should devote an "adequate" amount of classroom time to the methods, and importance of properly documenting the sources of others ideas, thoughts, and creativity.

A major weakness of the article is that although the research Hauptman cites, and the statistics he uses are not specific to any particular type of institution, he makes the claim that" liberal arts institutions no longer attempt to inculcate correct action or character". Therefore, the reader is not sure of the reason of he makes this conclusion, or has this particular insight. He further states that based on this conclusion that a student's value system must depend on "his or her home environment, and the actions of peers". In spite of this lack of evidence and reason for some of his arguments, the author offers some solutions that are concrete, and logical such as fostering an environment in "the academy" that rewards integrity, and punishes unethical activity.

New:

Gallant, T. (2008). Academic integrity in the twenty-first century: A teaching and learning imperative. ASHE Higher Education Report, 33(5), 1-141.

 According to the Gallant, the current goal of administrative and public authorities is to ease the "moral panic", of those who are calling for upholding legitimate academic conduct or academic integrity. In his opinion, this moral panic may exist solely because of survey studies that have proven the "existence" of a "cheating culture". Therefore, most colleges and universities have devised a strategy that both appeases the critics and alarmist, and drives home the point by instituting conduct policies. The author feels that a problem with this strategy is the lack of an absolute definition of "academic integrity" as this term is subject to both an historical and cultural context. Therefore, more importantly than asking the question of "How do we stop students from cheating?" the author feels that institutions and instructors should be asking "How do we ensure students are learning?" In other words, institutions in order to uphold academic integrity may be forgetting that their core mission is teaching and learning. In fact, research has found evidence that student are more likely to cheat when they do not perceive that it has a "negative" effect on their learning. Therefore, the broader question, which goes beyond student character and conduct, should be "How do ensure institutional structures and cultures support integrity in teaching and learning?"

Gallant presents a strong argument for his case by citing misconstrued studies in the last decade that have used self-reported behaviors. These surveys can at best only "suggest" that the respondents may be "engaging in behaviors that may be considered cheating by their educational institutions". With little research being done on the acceptable terms or definitions of cheating, these surveys are a poor reason for institutions to have a "moral panic", or conclude that there is a "cheating culture". In addition, the author gives a valuable comprehensive historical overview of academic integrity, and society's differing viewpoint of it. He concludes with an opinion that as institutions became more diversified, we may have assumed the "weakening of adolescent behavior", and responded too impetuously with a barrage of rule compliances, and integrity standards. He states that this approach may prove to be inadequate.

Shipley, S. (2009). Academic and professional dishonesty: Student views of cheating in the classroom and on the job. Journalism and Mass Communication Educator, 64(1), 39-53.

According to the author, Linda J. Shipley, her literature review on academic and professional dishonesty revealed that college students were cheating. It is also a prevalent and growing problem. In the context of this literature review, she wanted to find out whether there was a connection between the cheating of journalism students in the classroom, and their conduct in a professional realm. Therefore, she posed the research question "What are the views of today's journalism and mass communication students about academic and professional dishonesty?"  The goal of the study was to determine viewpoints and behavior of students as they pertain to academic and professional dishonesty. Based on those viewpoints, to find the penalties that the students felt were "appropriate", or fit the infraction. The study consisted of students enrolled in the spring of 2007 at a major Midwestern university in either a required introductory mass media class, or a required upper-level mass media and society class. The objective of the survey was to determine the students' views on "cheating in classes and cheating on the job". Therefore, the questions asked for the frequency, "seriousness, and types of dishonesty", and the specifics of the penalties that would be "appropriate" for an offenders" infractions. The author felt that results of the study were very significant especially the differences related to the penalty for "trivial" cheating. The respondents who recommended harsher penalties for trivial cheating were more likely to state, "a journalist who makes up quotes in order to meet a deadline should be fired". More interesting is the fact that those respondents who had reported an individual for "academic cheating" had very different "recommendations" for penalties for professional dishonesty than those who had not reported a cheater. The respondents who reported the cheaters were "more likely to recommend firing a journalist for using quotes without attribution from another medium". The author stated that this was a positive sign of a correlation between the students' academic integrity, and their eventual professional work.

The author states that the finding are "good news" for future employers of graduates of journalism programs because they imply that students could "recognize" cheating in a professional environment, and would recommend "harsher" penalties. A limitation of this study is that the sample for the survey was very homogenous, and not random. Most journalism students in college across the country may not have the same viewpoints. The author states that more research on journalism students could "substantiate" the results.

Teixeira, A.C., & Rocha, M.F. (2010). Cheating by economics and business undergraduate students: An exploratory international assessment. Higher Education, 59 (6), 663 - 701.

The authors in this comprehensive international study state that today's economics and business students are likely to be tomorrow's business leaders. Therefore, their beliefs and attitudes about academic integrity will affect their beliefs and attitudes about "acceptable" business practices. In their literature review, they found that "business students who cheat in college are likely to become future professionals who will engage in similar unethical behaviors". Furthermore, the literature revealed that students believe that professionals in the business world act in an "unethical manner". Adding to this disturbing fact is the troubling aspect that many students internationally may no longer see cheating as "morally wrong". Finally, there is much evidence that those who are not doing well in their classes, and have lower G.P.A's may be tempted to cheat more often. The authors of this study tested five hypotheses, which questioned the factors that would contribute to a student's cheating. They distributed a one-page questionnaire with the "main determinants" from the literature that contribute to academic "fraudulent" behavior. The study group or respondents were 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year students from Economics and Business or Management courses. The questionnaire was distributed to enrolled students at "11 Portuguese Universities (all public universities from the mainland and the University of the Azores), and 31 schools/universities in 20 other countries". The authors felt that the most important contribution of their study was the difference of the ethical behaviors between "blocks of countries". Evidently, their results support the hypothesis that a student's origin is an important factor in his or her attitudes about cheating, and unethical behavior.

The authors admit that a major limitation of their research is that it used surveys, and the cheating was a "self-reported. Therefore, it is open to "social desirability bias". Another limitation of the study was that it was restricted to academic cheating, and there is no universal definition for this term, and probably multiple ones. Finally, some consistent findings in the study were that schools that had honor codes tended to have "lower rates" of cheating, and female students cheated much less than their male counterparts. The authors recommend further international research into other types of unethical behavior in the classroom.

Colby, A., Ehrlich, T., Beaumont, E., & Stephens, J. (2003). Educating citizens: Preparing America's undergraduates for lives of moral and civic responsibility. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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