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Students' Perceptions Of Both The Certainty And The Deterrent Effect Of Potential Consequences Of Cheating

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Understanding Students: Cognition

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1042.1 - 8.1042.10



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Paper Authors

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Donald Carpenter

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Cindy Finelli

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Honor Passow

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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

Students’ perceptions of both the certainty and the deterrent effect of potential consequences of cheating

Cynthia J. Finelli∗, Trevor S. Harding∗, Donald D. Carpenter†, Honor J. Passow‡ ∗ Kettering University, Flint, Michigan † Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan ‡ University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

1. Introduction

Extensive research indicates that cheating among undergraduate students is a serious problem. A recent study by McCabe5 reported that as many as nine in ten engineering undergraduates admit to one or more incidents of cheating in college and up to 23% admit to repetitive examination cheating. Several consequences of cheating, including personal shame, embarrassment, and institutional sanctions, have been studied and proposed as possible deterrents. For instance, McCabe6 examined the role of peer disapproval of cheating and found that the frequency of self- reported academic dishonesty was lower when respondents perceived that their peers disapproved of such misconduct. Franklyn-Stokes3 found shame/embarrassment at being caught copying from a neighbor during an examination, copying another student’s coursework, or fabricating references of a bibliography to be a deterrent to cheating. She also reported that fear of punishment or of being found out was a factor but was not one of the main reasons students listed for not cheating. A study by Cochrane2 examined the effects of perceived certainty and severity of shame, embarrassment, and formal sanction threats on the self-reported prevalence of involvement in a variety of forms of academic dishonesty. Of particular interest are his findings regarding two specific forms of cheating: looking at another’s answers on an examination and falsifying information for a term paper. He reported that “the only form of threat that appears to enter into and influence the rational calculus of prospective cheaters is their own sense of shame associated with acts of academic dishonesty.” He “failed to find any evidence of deterrent effect for … embarrassment [and] … formal sanction threats on student’s levels of academic dishonesty” and reported that “cheaters and noncheaters were equally unaffected by the threat of any embarrassment…”

In response to these findings, the authors have initiated a long-term investigation to identify and validate concrete approaches for reducing the frequency of cheating among engineering students. As part of that investigation, they have studied the potential consequences and deterrents described above. The authors have previously described factors that correlate with the frequency and definitions of cheating among engineering undergraduates and presented student opinions on what actions might prevent cheating1,4. However, they have not reported their findings regarding the correlations between students’ perceptions of shame, embarrassment, and institutional sanctions and their decision to cheat. In this paper, the authors compare students’ perceptions of the certainty of experiencing three potential consequences of cheating (shame, embarrassment,

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Carpenter, D., & Finelli, C., & Passow, H., & Harding, T., & Finelli, C. (2003, June), Students' Perceptions Of Both The Certainty And The Deterrent Effect Of Potential Consequences Of Cheating Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12153

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