Measuring student perceptions about academic cheating in independent schools

Year: 1995

Author: Godfrey, John, Waugh, Russell

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The prevalence of academic cheating in schools has been consistently appearing in the scholarly and mass media literature for several decades. The phenomenon is of concern to both teachers and school administrators. Cheating by students has become an important issue to be addressed by teachers because of the increased opportunities to cheat with the introduction of assignments done outside class time.

The questionnaire used to collect the data covered six main aspects regarding cheating: perceptions of the seriousness of cheating, perceptions of what constitutes cheating, perceptions of why cheating occurs, perceptions of how cheating can be discouraged, past behaviour about cheating and the attitudes towards cheating in examinations and assignments. Data from 694 students aged 15 to 18 years old in 13 schools in an Independent School system from all States of Australia (except WA) was collected.

The data were analysed in two ways. Firstly, uni-dimensional scales were constructed of variables proposed in a model of cheating. Zero order and multiple regression techniques were calculated to check on the relationships between the variables in the model. The second analysis used an Extended Logistic Model of Rasch which calculated item affectivities for all the items fitting the model on the same continuum.

Separate scales for males and females consisting of attitude statements marking off equal intervals were constructed from those attitude statements fitting the model and are recommended for use in measuring student perceptions of cheating. These scales are helpful in understanding student beliefs about cheating, factors operating in cheating behaviour, and methods of discouraging cheating.

The analysis suggested implications for further research in building models of moral behaviour and for teachers in their efforts to overcome cheating.