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Academic Integrity At An American Style University Abroad: Student Attitudes, Awareness, And Cheating Frequency

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Engineering Ethics, Academic Integrity

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.153.1 - 14.153.15

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Paper Authors


Isaac Wait Marshall University

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Isaac Wait is an assistant professor of engineering at Marshall University. He earned BS and MS degrees in Civil Engineering at Brigham Young University, and a PhD in Civil Engineering from Purdue University. He works in the areas of water resources and environmental engineering.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Academic Integrity at an American-style University Abroad: Student Attitudes, Awareness, and Cheating Frequency


As US universities open branch campuses across the world, and as the number of independent American-style institutions outside of North American increases, attention is turning to the issue of how to deliver a genuinely American education to non-American students, outside of America, with predominately non-American faculty and staff. Among the challenging quality- control issues that are faced is how to apply the same Academic Integrity expectations as are generally associated with the American higher education model, and how to enforce related regulations in an efficient manner.

In this research, a survey was administered to approximately 400 undergraduate engineering students enrolled at an American-style university in the Middle East gulf region. Students were surveyed to assess their attitudes about which activities constitute academic dishonesty, the frequency with which they engage in these activities, their motivation for cheating, and the penalties that students typically face when caught cheating. Statistical methods were utilized to investigate variation in attitudes and behavior among various student sub-groups, such as by gender, nationality, English language proficiency, and academic standing. Results indicate that approximately three-fourths of students engage in some activity that would generally be classified as academic dishonesty, but many of these students believe that these activities (such as copying other students’ homework assignments) are not classified as cheating and do not have a harmful effect on their education.


The number of American-style universities outside of North America is increasing, spurred by the twin perceptions that (1) American education is a pathway to career success, and (2) in the post-9/11 world, gaining admittance to America is increasingly difficult. As branch campuses of established American universities open abroad, and as new international institutions obtain accreditation from US-based agencies, it is important to examine how to provide an “American” education when an institution is surrounded by a foreign culture, populated by non-American students, and largely staffed by educators with limited academic experience in the United States.

Academic honesty norms are among the differences that may arise between a foreign academic culture and American academic culture; definitions about what constitutes plagiarism, typical penalties against students who are caught cheating, motivations for engaging in dishonest behavior, and the perceived faculty role in enforcing expectations are some of the areas where what is considered typical at an American institution in North America may be different from perceptions and practices at an American-style institution abroad. Since academic dishonesty among students undercuts the educational experience, it is important for administrators and instructors to have a clear idea of the magnitude of the problem of academic dishonesty, and identify existing trends that may have an impact upon which strategies can be utilized to educate

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