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Cheating In College Why Students Do It And What Educators Can Do About It Pdf

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This study aims to investigate attitudes toward cheating among business students at a private university in Kenya and examine if a significant difference exists in cheating perceptions among students who have completed one or two ethics courses, and those who have done none.

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Cheating in College: Why Students Do It and What Educators Can Do about It

Metrics details. In this study, we analyzed the academic integrity policies of colleges in Ontario, Canada, casting a specific lens on contract cheating. We analyzed the characteristics of the documents from three perspectives: a document type and titles; b policy language; and c policy principles. Then we examined five core elements of the documentation including a access; b approach; c responsibility; d detail; and e support.

Key findings revealed that specific and direct language pertaining to contract cheating was largely absent from the policy documents, that underlying policy principles lacked clear definition, and that exemplary policy has yet to be developed in this context. We conclude with recommendations for increased policy research in the area of academic integrity and a call for policy revision in Canadian higher education institutions to more explicitly address the issue of contract cheating, as well as provide more support to students and other campus stakeholders to better understand how contract cheating impacts and impedes teaching and learning.

Clear language, ease of access, and transparency around expectations and process are hallmark features of exemplary organizational policy. Educational organizational policies are formal statements of principle that are used to establish boundaries, provide guidance, and outline best practices for educational institutions and should support their mission and values Freeman ; Carnegie Mellon University Policies are typically accompanied by procedures that when implemented can influence the behaviour of the people within an institution Clark et al.

While timelines for reviewing and revising policies may differ across organizations and countries, efforts to ensure consistent and regular review is agreed to be an important endeavour Bretag et al. This endeavour gains importance given the changing landscape of learning that includes realities like the ease of access to information via the internet, ubiquitous use of technology, and the increasing issue of contract cheating.

Such system drivers have elicited a call for policy makers and other knowledge users to collaborate more intentionally with researchers to increase accountability and generate evidence to inform decision-making Kothari and Wathen Given the importance of academic integrity policy in higher education, the purpose of the present study was to examine academic integrity policies, with a particular focus on how Canadian colleges have addressed contract cheating.

In our review of the literature, we identified major areas of prior scholarship that informed our understanding of the topic. We have organized our literature review into three sections.

First, we broadly address the phenomenon of contract cheating. Second, we examine policy research, casting an intentional lens on policy analysis focused on academic integrity.

In the third section, we situate our work within the Canadian context and the estimated extent of the problem of contract cheating in Canada. Finally, we conclude our review of the literature by discussing how our study addresses a gap in the existing scholarship.

Since the term contract cheating was coined Clarke and Lancaster , scholars have articulated various definitions, with some nuanced differences among them Clarke and Lancaster ; Draper and Newton ; Harper et al. Despite the differences, there is consensus that contract cheating occurs when students outsource their academic work to a third party.

The drastic differences in these estimates may be an indication of early-stage inquiries into the topic that have become more refined as empirical research in the field has become more robust and rigorous, and larger in scale. For example, Bretag et al. There is evidence to show that the phenomenon of contract cheating is present across various academic disciplines Curtis and Clare ; Eaton ; Lancaster and Clarke Although early investigations into the topic of academic outsourcing focused on computer science Clarke and Lancaster and essay mills, more recent research has shown that various types of assignments are outsourced by students, including final assignments, in-class assignments, reflections on practicum experiences, and personalized assessments Bretag et al.

There is further evidence showing that contract cheating occurs in numerous languages beyond English Eaton and Dressler , which is of particular concern for those in the Canadian context, given that formal education is offered in both official languages — English and French. Despite the overwhelming evidence to show the depth and breadth of contract cheating as an issue, the response at the level of individual educators and from institutions has been problematic.

At the instructor level, assessment design alone is not sufficient to ameliorate contact cheating Bretag et al. One possible reason for this may be that the work submitted is often written by a third party from scratch rather than plagiarized from another source Lancaster and Clarke Detection of work completed by third parties can be difficult, requiring the continual development, update, and refinement of tools to detect contract cheating with greater sophistication Lancaster and Clark Often the process of the detection is left in the hands of individual educators.

Although the task of detection can be complex, educators can be trained to identify signs of contract cheating in student work Rogerson However, the issue of contract cheating is not one that the individual educator can solve. Academic integrity advocates call for a holistic approach to promoting academic integrity, addressing violations in a proactive manner, and developing clear and detailed policies and procedures that are applied consistently Morris and Carroll ; TEQSA This approach can be used to begin to address the issue of contract cheating in Canadian post-secondary institutions.

As we reviewed the extant literature on academic integrity policy in particular, we noted this engaged subjectivity in the work of others who have come before us. We noted two overarching subsets of academic integrity policy analysis. The first encompassed broad investigations about post-secondary institutional policies Bretag et al. Results have shown that vague or inconsistent definitions of plagiarism are not helpful to students trying to avoid it, or professors or administrators trying to address it after it has occurred Brown and Howell ; Eaton, Nevertheless, plagiarism is difficult to define in absolute terms and can include a variety of practices from verbatim copying to imprecise citing and referencing Brown and Howell ; Grigg ; Gullifer and Tyson ; Eaton, In recent years, recommended practices for policy development have emerged Bretag et al.

Bretag et al. The first is access , describing policy that is easy to find and understand. The second is approach , which refers to infusing policy with an educative process. The third is responsibility that articulates clear roles and responsibilities for various stakeholders. The fourth is detail , which refers to having descriptions of classifications of terms like integrity, severity of breaches to academic integrity, and policy processes with clear and objective outcomes.

The final core element is support , which includes procedures, modules, training, and professional development to enact the policy. These core elements of exemplary academic integrity policy served to inform our understanding and analysis for the research completed in this study. Once policies have been written, it is important that they be reviewed and revised on a regular basis to ensure that they remain up to date and current Morris and Carroll Two typical theoretical approaches to policy analysis include problem-solving theory and critical theory Ozga ; Winton and Tuters While both approaches are evident in existing academic integrity policy research, there is often no explicit allegiance to a particular theoretical approach.

We viewed this approach to academic integrity policy research as a strength, rather than as a deficit, demonstrating an overall tolerance of diverse epistemological foundations.

We situate ourselves within this emergent tradition of academic integrity researchers who recognize that such policy research can have multiple aims. First, academic integrity policy can aim to address the problems associated with violations of integrity and thus the application of problem-solving theory is appropriate. Equally important is a critical theory perspective that involves the acknowledgement and awareness of how problems are socially constructed.

This latter perspective views social and cultural values at play in how these problems are framed. In turn, how problems are framed necessarily influences how they are solved Ozga, ; Winters and Tuters An in-depth analysis of academic integrity policy is more robust when problem solving and criticality are infused as complementary theoretical foundations of the work.

Post-secondary education in Canada encompasses universities, community colleges, as well as trade and vocational training centres Statistics Canada To contextualize this number, the total population of Canada in was approximately It has been estimated that over 71,, or 3. Our research methodology was based on the document and policy analysis procedures outlined by Bretag et al. We collected publicly accessible online academic integrity policies from websites of 24 publicly-funded colleges in the province of Ontario, Canada.

In the first cycle of document retrieval August 28 to September 22, , two research team members searched for and downloaded the primary documents about academic integrity i. The documents retrieved from 22 colleges were written in English and 2 were in French. We delimited our data extraction and analysis to the documents written in English, as the research team members were not fluent in the French language. Prior to data extraction, the research team agreed to extract information for five categories: document type; title of document; specific language related to contract cheating; the presence and clarity of contract cheating definitions; and policy principles Grigg ; Bretag et al.

The identification of document types and titles are important as both communicate the overall intention of the documentation. We determined the frequencies of documents using a single concept within the title e.

Similar to the titles of documents, language whether direct or indirect is important to communicate intention, frame the narrative, and support interpretation by the reader. Finally, policy principles convey the foundational values on which the policies were developed and the elements that are important to stakeholders. All four team members extracted the data from the documents of 11 colleges independently.

Each coder was the primary coder for about half of the documents and the secondary coder for the other half. In this way, the data extraction process for each document occurred twice.

Next, the level of agreement in data extraction was calculated. Across all categories, the level of agreement between the two coders ranged from Disagreement for coding principles identified within the documents was the highest.

Disagreements between coders for all categories were reviewed and resolved by consensus. In Phase 2, we evaluated the extracted data according to the five core elements of exemplary academic integrity documentation: access, approach, responsibility, detail, and support see Bretag et al.

We briefly describe the core elements below. Approach refers to the presence of statements within the academic integrity documentation that provide details on the importance of the fundamental values of academic integrity i. These messages should be woven consistently throughout the document using specific language related to upholding the fundamental values of academic integrity. The core element of responsibility refers to the belief that all members of an educational community must uphold the values of academic integrity.

Detail refers to the importance of well-developed policies and procedures that are easy to understand and follow. Well-developed documentation uses clearly defined terminology for violations of academic integrity, and examples to illustrate the terminology clearly.

Such documentation includes details on the identification and investigation of academic integrity violations, appropriate reporting mechanisms, the setting of fair consequences, and a centralized system to record and monitor cases.

We intentionally limited our evaluation of this core element to the appropriateness of the terminology concerning contract cheating as a thorough evaluation of other details was beyond the scope of the current report. Support refers to the strategies and resources developed to educate students about academic integrity and violations, and to support educators so they can promote academic integrity in their teaching and learning environments and to identify and report cases of academic misconduct when they arise.

These strategies and resources must be mentioned in policy. The overall purpose of our analysis of institutional-level documentation on academic integrity from 22 publicly-funded colleges in Ontario, Canada was to determine the ways in which contract cheating is conceptualized and defined at each college, and to identify general trends in the communication of contract cheating. We retrieved and extracted information from 28 documents, outlining the expectations for academic conduct among students and in some documents, staff and faculty.

We noted the recency of the documents during our extraction, paying attention to institutional revisions and updates. Twelve documents showed updates effective as of and , 12 were updated in and , and 3 were updated between and One document was not dated.

It was not clear if the recent policy revisions and updates were limited to formatting, content ordering, editorial, definition and glossary changes, rather than substantive changes.

We coded 27 documents as policies and procedures of these, 2 were academic regulations and 1 as a code of conduct. The specific definitions and language used to describe contract cheating were generally indirect within the majority of the 28 academic integrity documents. Six colleges stated that plagiarism or cheating included buying, selling, or stealing or soliciting material for the purpose of academic gain.

Only one college used the term and defined contract cheating explicitly.

Academic integrity and contract cheating policy analysis of colleges in Ontario, Canada

Research shows that a strong campus culture of academic integrity can lower cheating rates by up to a third, with the percentage of students cheating at least once dropping from roughly three-fourths to one-half of all students. The policy recognizes this by requiring you to include an academic honesty statement on either your syllabus or course website and to call attention to course-specific academic honesty information in class during the first two weeks. The policy also requires you to have your students write and sign the honor pledge before each exam. You can also promote academic honesty by explaining the purpose and value of your assignments to students so that they understand why they are doing it. You can reduce academic dishonesty through your course design.


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Metrics details. In this study, we analyzed the academic integrity policies of colleges in Ontario, Canada, casting a specific lens on contract cheating.

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