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The Influence Of Academic Dishonesty On Ethical Decision Making In The Workplace: A Study Of Engineering Students

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Technology, Communications & Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1270.1 - 9.1270.11



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Paper Authors

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Donald Carpenter

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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 2531

The Influence of Academic Dishonesty on Ethical Decision- Making in the Workplace: A study of engineering students

T.S. Harding1, D.D. Carpenter2, C.J. Finelli3, and H.J. Passow3 1 Kettering University, Flint, MI 2 Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, MI 3 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI


According to studies conducted over the past four decades, engineering students self-report high frequencies of academic dishonesty (cheating) while in college. Research on college students in all fields has indicated that such behavior is more common among students who participate in academic dishonesty at the high school level and is correlated with other deviant or unethical behaviors, such as petty theft and lying. If, in fact, such correlations do exist, one might hypothesize that there is also a relationship between academic dishonesty in college and deviant or unethical behavior in professional practice. Placing this relationship in the context of higher frequencies of academic dishonesty among engineering students only increases the seriousness of the problem for engineering educators, corporations and society.

To examine this issue we have initiated a multi-university study on the attitudes, perceptions and behaviors of college-aged engineering students toward academic dishonesty and unethical professional behavior. A majority of the students in our sample population work for a considerable period of time in an engineering setting during their college years, providing us with a unique opportunity to study the connection between academic dishonesty and professional behavior within the same sample of individuals. The survey used in this study asks questions about the respondent's decisions during opportunities to "cheat" in each of two contexts: college classrooms and workplace settings. In each context, respondents are asked to consider what opportunities to cheat presented themselves, whether they felt any pressure to cheat (or not to cheat), and ultimately what decision they made in this specific instance. The survey also asks respondents to report how frequently they have cheated in school or the workplace.

Results suggest that there is a clear connection between cheating in high school and the decision to cheat in a specific scenario in college. In addition, frequent cheaters in high school reported being more likely to decide to violate work place policies. Finally, comparison of student responses to the pressures and hesitations to cheating across the contexts of academic and workplace settings indicates there are distinct similarities in the decision-making processes used by respondents in these two contexts.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Carpenter, D., & Passow, H., & Harding, T., & Finelli, C. (2004, June), The Influence Of Academic Dishonesty On Ethical Decision Making In The Workplace: A Study Of Engineering Students Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13993

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