What Type of Student is More Likely to Cheat?
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
BEADLE, D. J. (1999). What Type of Student is More Likely to Cheat?. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 2. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved April 25, 2017 .

What Type of Student is More Likely to Cheat?
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
This study was conducted to determine if GPA, gender and self perceived academic ability are reliable predictors as to whether a student will cheat. This study also tried to determine how students feel about the students who do cheat. The study used a survey that consisted of nine questions and four descriptive questions. The survey was filled out by students who attended Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph, MO. The results were unable to determine any reliable predictors of students who cheat. The study did find that students feel they have a higher academic ability than students who cheat. More studies are needed in this area to help teachers deter the cheating problem in today`s classrooms.

Cheating is becoming a larger problem in high school and college classrooms in every part of the world. In 1941 Drake reported that the rate of students who cheat was 23%, while Stern and Havlicek reported the rate of students who cheated was 82% in 1982. Every class is probably going to have a student that is cheating in it. Cheating is happening in all types of classrooms from high school to medical school. Teachers are receiving some harsh criticism for not doing enough to deter cheating in their classrooms. It is obvious that teachers need all the assistance they can get when trying to identify who is cheating. I feel that it would helpful if the teachers were able to better determine if a particular type of student is more likely to cheat.A study by Davis (1994) compared American students to Australian students as to why they cheat. The study showed that the American students showed lower learning orientated attitudes while showing a higher grade orientated behavior. Is there a particular type of student who is more likely to cheat than other students? Studies have varied as to whether males or females cheat more. A study by Tang and Zuo (1997) reported that a male who cheats is more likely to have a low GPA but claimed to have high academic ability. On the other hand females who cheated had no correlation as to their GPA or self claimed academic ability. The same study also showed that a person self esteem wasn`t a predictor as to whether someone was likely to cheat. Even if there were a stereotypical cheater there would be exceptions to the rule. Teachers would still have to realize that every student is a potential cheater.At least 90% of students report that cheating is wrong (Davis, 1992). If so many students realize that cheating is wrong then why do they still do it? The obvious reason is that they want to improve their grade. Some of the reasons given by students were that they didn`t study, wanted to improve their GPA, either to continue their education or to impress prospective employers, felt pressure from their parents, or they feel too nervous to do well on tests (Davis, 1995). Although a student thinks that cheating is wrong, they seem to justify their reasons for cheating.Since students feel that they can justify their reasons for cheating, do they feel that the other students cheating is justified? Davis (1995) looked at why students would let other students cheat off their paper. He found that the main reasons were that the cheater was a friend, the student wanted to avoid a confrontation with the student who was cheating and even they would let someone cheat off them because they didn`t like the teacher. This doesn`t show how other students feel about the cheaters but it does appear that some students don`t care that others are cheating. This is contradictory to the reasons why students cheat. If students are cheating to improve their grades, then they are hurting their own grade by letting other students cheat, especially on tests that are graded on the curve. One bright point was that medical students felt that cheating made them less trustworthy physicians (Dans, 1996). The purpose of this study is to determine if there is a certain type of student who is more likely to cheat. I will try to find out if gender, GPA, or the students self perceived academic ability are reliable factors as to whether someone will cheat. I also want to determine how students feel about the students who are cheating.


The study used 28 participants who were students at Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph, MO. There were 17 female and 11 male participants. The participants ranged from freshman to seniors, with the majority of them being freshman. The confidentiality of the participants was upheld. All the participants participated voluntarily.

I used a nine question survey that included four descriptive questions (see appendix). The questions were in the form of a Likert type scale. The survey was filled out by the students in a classroom, using a pen or pencil.

I monitored the application of the survey myself. I explained the purpose of the survey to the participants before I handed the survey out. I stressed the importance of honesty to the participants. I also informed the participants that their identity would be confidential. After the participant was finished with the survey, I told them to turn it over and then I picked up the survey without looking at it.

An independent t-test using a between subjects design was used to determine what students felt the academic ability of people who is. The test found that the more a student cheats, the lower they think the academic ability of students who cheat is. This had a significant difference (t(26) = 2.029,

p .05)(see figure 2). There also wasn`t a significant difference between males and females own perceived academic ability and the perceived academic ability of students who cheat (see figure 2).

I conducted this study to try to determine which students are more likely to cheat in the classroom. I also wanted to determine how students feel their academic ability is compared to the academic ability of students who cheat. I was unable to determine that GPA, gender, or self perceived academic ability was a reliable predictor whether a student was more likely to cheat. This shows that everyone in classroom is likely to cheat. Other studies have not been able determine that GPA and gender are reliable predictors. I did find that students feel they have more academic ability than the students who cheat. An interesting part of this finding was that the more a student reported they cheated, the less they felt the academic ability of students who cheat is. My study had too many freshman compared to the other classes. This may have altered my results because they have not been in college long enough for me to get an accurate cheating behavior. I would also try to get more participants to fill out the survey. This would make my results more reliable. Other factors that might determine if a student is more likely to cheat is how much time they spend on extra curricular activities or work. I did not try to find out why students cheat, which could determine who would cheat. Studies can also be conducted to find out what will deter students from cheating. If teachers could implement policies that would deter students from cheating, then classrooms may have less of a cheating problem.

Dans, P. E. (1996). Self-reported cheating by students at one medical school. Academic Medicine, 71, S70-S72. Davis, S.F., Grover, C.A., Becker, A.H., & McGregor, L.N. (1992). Academic Dishonesty: Prevelance, determinents, techniques, and punishments. Teaching of Psychology, 19, 16-20. Davis, S.F., & Ludvigson, H.W. (1995). Faculty Forum. Teaching of Psychology, 22, 119-121. Davis, S.F., Noble, L.M., Zak, E.N., & Dreyer, K.K. (1994). A comparison of cheating and learning/grade orientation in American and Australian college students. College Student Journal, 28, 353-356. Drake, C.A. (1941). Why students cheat. Journal of Higher Education,12, 418-420. Stern, E.B., Havlicek, L. (1986). Academic misconduct: Results of faculty and undergraduate students surveys. Journal of Allied Health, 5, 129-142. Tang, S., Zuo, J. (1997). Profile of college examination cheaters. College Student Journal, 31, 340-346.

Cheating SurveyCircle the answer that best describes your behavior.Sex____ Age_____Year in school: FR SO JR SRDo you work? YES NO. If so how many hours a week do you work?a) 0-5 b) 5-15 c) 15-25 d) 25 or more

1. In High School, how often did you cheat on a test?a) 0-2 b) 3-6 c) 7-10 d) more than 10 times

2. In High School, how often did you plagiarize a paper?a) 0-2 b) 3-6 c) 7-10 d) more than 10 times

3. In college, how often have you cheated on a test?a) 0-2 b) 3-6 c) 7-10 d) more than 10 times

4. In college, how often have you plagiarized a paper?a) 0-2 b) 3-6 c) 7-10 d) more than 10 times

5. What is your current cumulative GPA? ________

6. What do you feel your academic ability is?a) mostly A`s b) mostly B`s c) mostly C`s d) mostly D or F`s

7. What do you think the academic ability of people who cheat is?a) mostly A`s b) mostly B`s c) mostly C`s d) mostly D`s or F`s

8. If you have cheated, do you feel that you had a justifiable reason for cheating?YES NO Not Applicable9. Do you feel that when people cheat in a class you are in, your grade is effected?YES NO

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Submitted 4/30/99 10:49:12 AM
Last Edited 5/3/99 1:51:07 PM
Converted to New Site 03/09/2009

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