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Seeing Is Believing: Using A Role Play Video To Establish Expectations For Academic Integrity

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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

14.1045.1 - 14.1045.11



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Paper Authors


Adam Melvin North Carolina State University

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Adam Melvin is a doctoral student in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University. He recieved an MS in Chemical Engineering from NC State, a BS in Chemical Engineering and a BA in Chemistry from the University of Arizona.
Adam has been very active in engineering education while at NC State serving as a TA and an instructor in addition to running informal TA
training sessions.

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Lisa Bullard North Carolina State University

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Dr. Lisa G. Bullard is a Teaching Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular
Engineering at North Carolina State University. She received her BS in Chemical Engineering from NC State, her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from
Carnegie Mellon University, and served in engineering and management positions within Eastman Chemical Co. from 1991-2000.

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

Seeing is Believing: Using a Role-Play Video to Establish Expectations for Academic Integrity Abstract

A drastic increase in undergraduate cheating at universities throughout the United States has been well documented in recent years. We have seen dramatic illustrations of this trend in our sophomore gateway course in chemical engineering, repeatedly catching students trying to submit work that was not their own or collaborating inappropriately on individual assignments. The most common excuse students have given for their behavior is ignorance of what constitutes cheating. To combat this disturbing rise in integrity violations, we have developed an instructional video that graphically illustrates the differences between acceptable behavior and cheating on assignments. The video is organized around role-plays of scenarios we have personally observed in the recent history of the course.

The video has been shown to students for four semesters in the past two years during either a lecture or a recitation session, and our interviews with students who are caught cheating always include a reminder of the video and how their infringement relates to a specific example in it. Since we began showing it, the average number of confirmed instances of cheating only decreased from ten to eight per semester; however, the number of students who challenged our accusation by appealing to the campus Judicial Board dropped from 30% of the students pre- video to 0% of the students post-video. Based on these findings, we conclude that although the video does not drastically reduce cheating, it successfully educates the students on what constitutes cheating so that, when caught, they admit their fault and accept responsibility.


The university classroom creates a multitude of opportunities and challenges for both the student population and faculty teaching the class. With rising enrollments in engineering curricula and greater numbers of students matriculating per year, higher emphasis is placed on course grades as a metric for student distinction which results in amplified pressure on the students to not only succeed, but to excel. This leads some students to try and find an easy way out, namely cheating. For faculty, the challenges are to minimize the likelihood of cheating, to detect it when it occurs, and to deal sternly but fairly with the cheaters.

Academic integrity violations (such as cheating, lying, and stealing) are a widespread epidemic at universities across the United States. In a recent study, 75% of students surveyed admitted to cheating at least once while in college (1). Another study showed that there has been a four-fold increase in the past 30 years (from 11% to 49%) in the number of students who admitted to collaborating on assignments when the instructor asked for individual work (2). Multiple studies have revealed that the incidence of cheating varies substantially across disciplines (2,3,4,5), with majors such as business and engineering having the highest reported instances. Passow and colleagues (5) found that older students (4th and 5th year undergraduates) cheat significantly more than first year students on exams, while second year students tend to cheat more on homework. The authors speculate that this observation could reflect a risk/reward system that changes over time. Cheating on homework has a much lower risk of detection than cheating on an exam;

Melvin, A., & Bullard, L. (2009, June), Seeing Is Believing: Using A Role Play Video To Establish Expectations For Academic Integrity Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4654

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015