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Undergraduate Engineering Student Academic Integrity: Comparison of International and Domestic Students

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Ethical Issues II: Academic Integrity and Student Development

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1387.1 - 25.1387.16



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Paper Authors


Isaac W. Wait Marshall University

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Isaac W. Wait is an Associate Professor of engineering in the College of Information Technology and Engineering at Marshall University in Huntington, W.V. Wait conducts research and teaches courses in water resources and environmental engineering and is a registered Professional Engineer in the states of Ohio and West Virginia.

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Armin Eberlein P.E. American University of Sharjah

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Armin Eberlein received the dipl-ing. (FH) degree in telecommunications engineering from the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences in Germany, the M.Sc. degree in communications systems, and the Ph.D. degree in software engineering from the
University of Wales, Swansea, U.K. He is currently a professor and the Director of Assessment of the College of Engineering at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) in the United Arab Emirates. Previously, he was an Associate Professor at the University of Calgary, Canada, where he was the Director of the Software Engineering program and one of the Co-directors of the Alberta Software Engineering Research Consortium (ASERC). He has been involved in assessment and accreditation activities for numerous years as a faculty member, administrator, and program reviewer.

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Undergraduate Engineering Student Academic Integrity Attitudes: Comparison of International and Domestic StudentsApproximately 700 undergraduate engineering students from 12 universities in the United Statesand 6 international universities responded to a survey of attitudes about academic integrityissues. Many established western universities are involved in the development of campusesabroad, but there has been limited research about differences in student attitudes towardscheating and other academic integrity issues. The goal of some of these campuses is to establishcurricula and academic standards equivalent to those found on Western campuses. The highnumber of international students pursuing engineering education within the US adds anotherdimension of importance in understanding differences in attitudes about academic integrity. Thisstudy investigates variability in student attitudes about academic integrity among students fromdifferent countries and cultural environments, and addresses the impact that variations may haveon the instructional techniques employed and policies that are adopted.The survey posed questions about student’s opinion of what types of actions do or do notconstitute cheating, about student motivations for cheating or not cheating, student perceptions ofhow frequently their peers engage in academically dishonest activities, perception of facultyefforts to inhibit and punish cheating, and the degree to which students themselves (or externalforces) should be held responsible for academically dishonest behavior when it occurs. Analysesfor Variation (ANOVA) were conducted to identify where variations in perception amongdomestic and international students were statistically significant (α = .05). Results show that thepercentage of US engineering students who self-report to have cheated (~80%) is approximatelyequal to the percentage of international engineering students, however, statistically significantdifferences exist in the frequency of cheating among those who cheat, with international studentswho self-report to engage in academically dishonest behavior doing so more frequently thandomestic undergraduate engineering students. Additionally, engineering students at internationaluniversities are substantially more likely to blame faculty members when they engage inacademically dishonest behavior, with “they assign too much work” as the most frequently citedjustification for doing so. Likewise, a higher fraction of international students say that they willreduce instructor teaching evaluations if punished for cheating.Significant differences were also observed in the percentage of students who report that (a) theirinstructors make efforts to prevent student cheating, and (b) the likely punishment to be receivedby students who are caught violating academic integrity regulations. Results show thatsignificant differences exist in attitudes about what activities constitute academic dishonesty,perceived impacts of cheating on educational outcomes, and reasons for avoiding academicallydishonest behavior among those who do not cheat. In view of these findings, institutions andindividual instructors with familiarity in one cultural and national environment should makeefforts to assess attitudes and adapt techniques to the unique backgrounds and attitudes of thestudents they teach.

Wait, I. W., & Eberlein, A. (2012, June), Undergraduate Engineering Student Academic Integrity: Comparison of International and Domestic Students Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22144

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