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Academic integrity is defined as a moral code or ethical policy of an educational institution (Wales, 2013). This moral or ethical code is violated in cases of cheating, plagiarism, and dishonesty. Student perception of cheating has been changing. Research indicates that the violation of academic integrity does not carry the same stigma then it did previously. There is considerably less student disapproval associated with the act of cheating, plagiarism, or dishonesty than before. (Center of Academic Integrity, 2005)
About 65 – 68% of undergraduate students have admitted to some form of cheating during their college career (Carter, 2008). In a study conducted regarding academic dishonesty, his research indicated that between 70% - 82% of students have witnessed fellow peers cheating. Carter asserted in his review of the literature that students are placed under a tremendous amount of stress and are burdened with expectation for their performance.
The need to excel in school is very competitive. Students focus on receiving the highest possible grade, and using any and all means to do so. The pressure or temptation to cheat arises from several factors. They vary from the workload of a semester being too heavy, the professor or the textbook not explaining course material thoroughly, the cheating of other students put those that don’t at a disadvantage, or too much material to understand (Carter, 2008).
Approximately three out of four (70 - 82%) college students have witnessed a fellow student cheating. (Carter, 2008)
Students reported in Carter’s research that; professors were at fault for grading too harshly, for administering tests that contain material that was vaguely explained or not explained well enough, or for assigning too much material to learn or complete without regard of students personal lives and other academic commitments.
In a summary of research on stress and competition conducted by the Center of Academic Integrity (2005) cheating is not only done by those who do not excel in school but also those at the top tier of their class. The pressure to achieve placed on students now is higher than at any point in history, further fostering dishonesty among students. There is competition to graduate with honors and recognition. Jobs are demanding more, majors are requiring additional course loads, and graduate schools are demanding brighter students who have taken more credits than necessary and who have a wide range of interests.
In closing, Carter asserted that students are inclined to surpass expectations place before them but are stressed from the demands of school, work, and personal responsibilities. This encourages dishonesty in order to balance their lives. Education more and more is seen as a rivalry, as competition between students. Grades and scores, rather than learning, have become the main focus of students. - Cielo Florez, Research Assistant
- Carter, B.A. (2008). Faculty beliefs, level of understanding and reported actions regarding academic integrity. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of North Carolina, Greensboro.
- Center of Academic Integrity. (n.d.). Retrieved on 12.02.13 from http://www.academicintegrity.org/icai/integrity-3.php.
- Parker, Kim. "The Digital Revolution and Higher Education Educations." Pew Social & Demographic Trends. Pew Research Center, 28 Aug. 2011. Web 28 Feb. 2012.
- Wales, J. (n.d.). Retrieved on 12.05.13 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_integrity.