Does moral judgment go offline when students are online? A comparative analysis of undergraduates' beliefs and behaviors related to conventional and digital cheating

Ethics and Behavior 17 (3):233 – 254 (2007)
This study provides a comparative analysis of students' self-reported beliefs and behaviors related to six analogous pairs of conventional and digital forms of academic cheating. Results from an online survey of undergraduates at two universities (N = 1,305) suggest that students use conventional means more often than digital means to copy homework, collaborate when it is not permitted, and copy from others during an exam. However, engagement in digital plagiarism (cutting and pasting from the Internet) has surpassed conventional plagiarism. Students also reported using digital "cheat sheets" (i.e., notes stored in a digital device) to cheat on tests more often than conventional "cheat sheets." Overall, 32% of students reported no cheating of any kind, 18.2% reported using only conventional methods, 4.2% reported using only digital methods, and 45.6% reported using both conventional and digital methods to cheat. "Digital only" cheaters were less likely than "conventional only" cheaters to report assignment cheating, but the former was more likely than the latter to report engagement in plagiarism. Students who cheated both conventionally and digitally were significantly different from the other three groups in terms of their self-reported engagement in all three types of cheating behavior. Students in this "both" group also had the lowest sense of moral responsibility to refrain from cheating and the greatest tendency to neutralize that responsibility. The scientific and educational implications of these findings are discussed in this study.
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DOI 10.1080/10508420701519197
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