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Causes For Cheating: Unclear Expectations In The Classroom

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.139.1 - 5.139.14



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Paper Authors

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James A. Ozment

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Alison N. Smith

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Wendy Newstetter

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

Session 3230

Causes for Cheating: Unclear Expectations in the Classroom

Andy Ozment, Alison Smith, Wendy Newstetter Georgia Institute of Technology College of Computing


A survey was submitted to faculty, teaching assistants, and students as part of a larger study on undergraduate cheating in an introduction to computing course at Georgia Tech. This course was chosen because it is taught by a variety of professors and relies heavily on teaching assistants. The goal of this survey was to emulate earlier work done at M.I.T. and determine whether these groups held similar beliefs about what actions constitute cheating. The survey presented scenarios and asked the respondent to rank these scenarios as “not cheating”, “trivial cheating”, or “serious cheating”. Each respondent was involved with the course, either as a student, teaching assistant, instructor, or administrator. The results showed that the first difficulty in studying cheating is defining it. Not only were there wide discrepancies between the three groups, there was also wide deviation within the groups. The members of the administration agreed on only one of the nine scenarios. Students and teaching assistants were generally closer in their responses, but still differed considerably. One limitation of this study was the limited response pool: only four administrators were involved in the course. Nonetheless, the significance of the deviations demonstrates the three groups are not successfully communicating their beliefs. The results further indicate a need for clear leadership in the definition of which actions and behaviors constitute cheating.

I. Introduction

As Information Technology pervades all workplaces and disciplines the increasing demand for professionals, particularly in engineering, who are proficient at computer programming has necessitated introductory programming courses for many students of higher education. To meet this need Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Computing has developed an Introduction to Computing course. This course, formerly CS1501, is now required for all students, from those majoring in International Affairs to first-year Computer Science majors. The resulting situation has created many challenges: students bring widely different levels of programming and computer experience to the course, large numbers of students must be accommodated, and the students are from a variety of majors which may or may not emphasize the importance of the course. Each of these aspects makes developing and delivering the curricula for CS1501 difficult.

When compared to other Georgia Tech courses, the detected levels of cheating in this course are elevated. For Fall Quarter 1998, 73% (51 out of 70) of Georgia Tech cases where students were judged guilty of cheating originated in courses administered by the College of Computing. With

Ozment, J. A., & Smith, A. N., & Newstetter, W. (2000, June), Causes For Cheating: Unclear Expectations In The Classroom Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8200

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