Why and how science students in the United States think their peers cheat more frequently online: perspectives during the COVID-19 pandemic

Lisa L. Walsh, Deborah A. Lichti, Christina M. Zambrano-Varghese, Ashish D. Borgaonkar, Jaskirat S. Sodhi, Swapnil Moon, Emma R. Wester, Kristine L. Callis-Duehl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Academic integrity establishes a code of ethics that transfers over into the job force and is a critical characteristic in scientists in the twenty-first century. A student’s perception of cheating is influenced by both internal and external factors that develop and change through time. For students, the COVID-19 pandemic shrank their academic and social environments onto a computer screen. We surveyed science students in the United States at the end of their first COVID-interrupted semester to understand how and why they believed their peers were cheating more online during a pandemic. Almost 81% of students indicated that they believed cheating occurred more frequently online than in-person. When explaining why they believed this, students touched on proctoring, cheating influences, and extenuating circumstances due to COVID-19. When describing how they believed cheating occurred more frequently online, students touched on methods for cheating and surreptitious behavior. The student reasonings were associated with four theories (game theory, Kohlberg’s theory of moral development, neutralization theory, and planned behavior theory) that have been used to examine academic dishonesty. Our results can aid institutions in efforts to quell student concerns about their peers cheating during emergencies. Interestingly, most student beliefs were mapped to planned behavior theory while only a few students were mapped to neutralization theory, suggesting it was a novel modality of assessment rather than a pandemic that shaped student perceptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number23
JournalInternational Journal for Educational Integrity
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Keywords

  • Academic dishonesty
  • Assessment
  • Cheating
  • COVID-19
  • Emergency
  • Integrity
  • Planned behavior theory
  • United States

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