Year: 1993

Author: Godfrey, John, Waugh, Russell, Evans, Ellis, Craig, Delores

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

An important issue for teachers in schools is student cheating, in various forms, on assignments and examinations, in order to gain better marks and grades. The importance of this issue has increased in recent years because of the increase in the proportion of marks given to assignment type assessments in many countries. There is strong pressure for students to obtain high marks and grades in economies with high unemployment levels and in many cases there is strong pressure to succeed from parents and teachers. This paper reports on the analysis of attitudinal data from 1068 students in five countries - Australia, Austria, Costa Rica, Germany (former West Germany and former East Germany) and the United States - relating to student perceptions about cheating. The journal literature contains many papers, mostly with United States data, on student cheating to gain better marks and grades and gives the impression that cheating is widespread and relatively well-accepted amongst students (Jendrek, 1992; Meade, 1992; Schab, 1991; Evans & Craig, 1990a and 1990b; Boyer, 1989; Deutsch, 1988; Haines, Diekhoff, La Beff & Clark, 1986; Bushway & Nash, 1977). However, no cross-cultural comparative studies of published cheating studies could be found except for a recent study by Evans, Craig and Mietzel (1993, in press). In order to widen the empirical base of cheating studies and improve our understanding of cheating behaviour in the context of cultural values and moral development, Evans, Craig and Mietzel (1993, in press) studied cheating perceptions of urban secondary school students in West Germany, the United States and Costa Rica. They found that German students showed strong differences in cheating perceptions from both United States and Costa Rican students. The differences occurred in cheating problem perceptions, critical attributes of cheating, causal factors in cheating and beliefs about effective ways to control cheating, although there were some similarities across all three countries. The differences in results between countries was interpreted as due to differences in competitive and co-operative reward structures in the education systems. The German system places greater emphasis on co-operation to achieve rather than personal effort to achieve as in the United States system. The present study extends the Evans, Craig and Mietzel (1993) study by increasing the sample from three to six countries; by increasing the sample from 322 to 1068 students; and by using a measurement model to create a common scale of attitude statements about cheating perceptions for students in all six countries at the interval level of measurement. This is expected to provide a better method of comparing any differences in perceptions between countries due to cultural and national effects.