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On The Frequency And Causes Of Academic Dishonesty Among Engineering Students

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.760.1 - 6.760.9



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Trevor Harding

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

Session 1330

On the Frequency and Causes of Academic Dishonesty Among Engineering Students

Trevor S. Harding Kettering University


According to studies of self-reported academic dishonesty conducted over time, cheating among college students has been on the increase since at least the 1940’s. This is especially true for engineering students who are now among the most likely to cheat compared to other disciplines. This paper will present a synopsis of the literature on academic dishonesty. In addition, the results of a pilot study on cheating among engineering students conducted at a small mid-western private engineering school are described. Engineering students in an introductory engineering materials course were asked to complete a survey on their perceptions of cheating; therefore, all results are self- reported. The goal of the pilot study is to establish student attitudes about what does and what does not constitute cheating and the frequency of student cheating. In addition, the pilot study was intended to help the researchers identify best practices for conducting a more complete research project. The overall objective of the research is to establish useable approaches for faculty to curtail the pressure to cheat which engineering students may feel.

I. Introduction

For many instructors, efforts to catch cheaters often entail considerable effort on the part of the instructor and/or are frustratingly ineffective. What if a set of techniques existed that an instructor could call upon to use in her class to convince students that they don’t need to cheat, long before they have the opportunity to do so? This is the premise of an ongoing research study being conducted by the author to examine what factors motivate engineering students to cheat and what techniques can be used to change their attitudes about cheating before it happens. The present paper will review the literature on academic dishonesty and discuss the results of a pilot study, including data on engineering students’ perceptions of what constitutes cheating and the frequency of student cheating. In another paper presented at this conference1, the various techniques for reducing cheating developed as a result of this research are discussed.

II. Review of Literature on Academic Dishonesty

Higher education has not always been plagued by academic dishonesty. However, since the 1940’s the number of students who admit to cheating in college has been on a steady increase. During the ‘40s the number of students who self-reported cheating was around

“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Harding, T. (2001, June), On The Frequency And Causes Of Academic Dishonesty Among Engineering Students Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9621

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