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Comparison Of Cheating Behaviors In Undergraduate

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Engineering Ethics IV

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.312.1 - 13.312.13



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Paper Authors

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Norma Mattei University of New Orleans

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

Comparison of Cheating Behaviors in Undergraduate Engineering Students and the General Student Population at the University of New Orleans Academic dishonesty is a problem at most universities, including the University of New Orleans (UNO). The percentage of students who report cheating varies by college major. Recent studies indicate that engineering students more frequently engage in cheating behavior than students of most other majors [1]. One of the most recent studies, called the PACE-1 Study [2, 3], involved a survey of 643 undergraduate engineering and pre-engineering students at eleven institutions, ranging from community colleges to large research universities. This study attempted to determine what is student cheating, how often does cheating occur, why do students cheat, and what methods can be used to reduce or stop cheating.

The PACE-1 Study’s findings included the observation that students were able to rationalize cheating behavior using instructor-based neutralizations such as “the instructor did an inadequate job” or “the instructor assigned too much material”. This correlated well in the study with the students’ belief that it is the instructor’s responsibility to limit cheating and not the students’. This indicates that an individual instructor can minimize cheating in their class. Thus, practical pedagogical methods can be identified and implemented to help students avoid the pressure of cheating.

Before such methods can be implemented at UNO, the beliefs and behaviors of UNO students were assessed in order to determine if they mirror those of the larger prior study. A short one- page voluntary questionnaire was given at the beginning of several large undergrad classes at UNO in order to try to determine what behaviors each student deems to be cheating and how many times in a typical semester the student participates in this type of behavior. The results of this survey were compared to the results of the broader previously referenced PACE-1 survey. The results will ultimately be used by the UNO College of Engineering to determine which, if any, pedagogical means of minimizing cheating in UNO engineering undergrads will be effective in eliminating undesirable student cheating behaviors.


Recent studies indicate that the prevalence and severity of cheating by college students is increasing. The implications of this increase in cheating behavior should distress educators. Most US universities, including UNO, have a mission that includes preparation of the student for citizenship or service to society. This preparation has a moral dimension. Prevalent cheating undermines a university’s efforts to prepare students in accordance with the university mission. The engineering profession is increasing pressure on academic institutions through accreditation requirements to provide graduates who understand professional and ethical responsibilities. Academic dishonesty indicates that many students will approach the professional with attitudes and habits that run counter to expected professional conduct. Acts of cheating also undermine the

Mattei, N. (2008, June), Comparison Of Cheating Behaviors In Undergraduate Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4330

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