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Investigating Students’ Attitude towards Cheating and Plagiarism


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SKERG Seminar with Dr. Manar Hosny on September 8, 2015. A synopsis of this seminar is available at

Paper is co-authored by Dr. Manar Hosny and Ms. Shameem Fatima, reporting on an exploratory survey with students in King Saud University.

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Investigating Students’ Attitude towards Cheating and Plagiarism

  1. 1. Manar Hosny & Shameem Fatima Investigating Students’ Attitude towards Cheating and Plagiarism SKERG Seminar September 8th, 2015
  2. 2. Outline 2  Introduction  CheatingVs. Plagiarism  Combating Cheating and Plagiarism  Current Study  Cheating Survey Results Recommendations  Plagiarism Survey Results Recommendations  FutureWork
  3. 3. Introduction  Academic dishonesty at universities is a common phenomenon among students of all ages and specialties.  Academic dishonesty is defined as 3 The students’use of illegal activities,techniques,and forms of fraud during their examination or evaluation processes,usually for the purpose of achieving better grades
  4. 4. Cheating Vs. Plagiarism  Cheating  intended violation of rules in order to acquire illegal advantage or better academic results.  Plagiarism  passing off someone else’s work as your own without acknowledging the source. Plagiarism may or may not be intentional Plagiarism may not always be considered as cheating. 4
  5. 5. Cheating and Plagiarism  An increasing number of incidents of cheating and plagiarism are being observed daily. Electronic communication through handheld and other popular devices makes it easier for students to copy and transmit information both inside and outside the classroom.  Factors for making students cheat or plagiarize  Getting better grades  Peer pressure  Playing smart  Making fun of the instructor 5
  6. 6. Combating Cheating and Plagiarism  Academic community is giving a lot of attention to increasing the awareness of students about ethical issues. Publishing ethical codes of practice and teaching ethics courses  Studying students’ attitudes may help increase consciousness about the danger and consequences of such acts. 6
  7. 7. Current Study  In our college the phenomena of cheating and plagiarism are rather noticeable.  It is important to study the attitude of students towards cheating and plagiarism The extent of the spread of academic dishonesty The reasons behind committing it 7
  8. 8. Research Methodology  Two surveys were used to assess our students’ (females in CCIS) attitude towards cheating and plagiarism.  The cheating survey consists of three parts: Part 1: Six questions to assess the frequency of some cheating practices. Part 2: Seven possible reasons for committing cheating. Part 3: One question about whether the cheating practices are ethical or not, and giving the reason for the answer. 8
  9. 9. Research Methodology 9  The plagiarism survey consists of three parts: Part1: Knowing the meaning of plagiarism, and assessing the frequency of practicing some plagiarism acts. Part2: Most common sources of plagiarism. Part3: Opinion regarding the ethicalness of such practices and giving the reason for the answer.  The target sample was undergraduate students in levels 3 to 6.  148 students anonymously answered the cheating survey, and 115 students answered the plagiarism survey.
  10. 10. 10 Survey Results
  11. 11. 11 1. Cheating Survey
  12. 12. Frequency of Cheating Practices 12 15.5% 54.6% 5.9% 49.2% 21.5% 8.7%
  13. 13. Reasons for Cheating 13  When asked whether cheating is ethical, 11.5% of students believed that it is ethical!
  14. 14. Cheating Survey Results Summary 14  The majority of students (85%) have never copied answers from someone else during the exam.  A large percentage (55%) were pressured to give answers to someone during the exam.  Most students did not resort to using body parts to hide written answers during an exam, and the majority also did not try to change the answer after grading.  Extracting hints from the instructor during the exam was relatively common, where approximately 50% of students had done this before.  Paying someone to do an assignment seems to be a common practice among our students, where approximately 22% of students have admitted committing this act.
  15. 15. Cheating Survey Results Summary 15  Most relevant reasons for cheating Lack of time to study Difficulty of the exam Importance of good grades Not preparing for the exam  Less important factors Helping a friend Having a lenient instructor Playing smart
  16. 16. Cheating Survey Results Summary 16  Approximately 12% of students thought cheating it is ethical.  Reasons given for being ethical are: “I am not very religious” “I have to do it because the distribution of grades is not fair”  “I have to do it to succeed”  65% of students who believe cheating is unethical indicated that cheating is forbidden in Islam, and against Islamic values.
  17. 17. Recommendations 17  Copying and giving answers, and extracting hints from the instructor during the exam is relatively common  We recommend that proctors be vigilant during the exam and avoid answering unnecessary questions by students. We should discourage the proctoring of the exam by the instructor of the course.
  18. 18. Recommendations 18  Paying someone to do the homework The instructor get more acquainted with the students to recognize their individual levels Having assignments of incremental nature More interesting assignments that need creativity and discussion after submission  Importance of grades, competition with peers and expectations of parents are among the factors that can lead to cheating. Trying to motivate the students to learn and giving rewards that are not dependent on grades
  19. 19. Recommendations 19  To increase the awareness of students Teachers as well as parents should stress that cheating is unethical  It is against religion  It is a form of fraud  It is harmful for the society  Policies against cheating and relevant punishments should be made clear at the introduction of every course, and implemented seriously by all faculty members.
  20. 20. 20 2. Plagiarism Survey
  21. 21. Plagiarism 21
  22. 22. Sources of Plagiarism 22 83.4% 62.6% 51.2%  When asked whether plagiarism is ethical, 34.75% of students believed that it is ethical!
  23. 23. Plagiarism Survey Results Summary 23  The majority of students know what plagiarism means.  Most common practices Copy exact words without citing the source Paraphrasing without citing the source  Sources of plagiarism Electronic resources Printed resources Work or ideas of a known person
  24. 24. Plagiarism Survey Results Summary 24  35% indicated that plagiarism is ethical. However, reason given was irrelevant E.g. “if the source is mentioned or it is an open source it is OK to use it”  Other reasons given for being ethical: “To help me” “It doesn't hurt to make use of some text in my research if I write it in my own way” “I may have to do it because of lack of time”
  25. 25. Plagiarism Survey Results Summary 25  Reasons given for believing that plagiarism is unethical “It is like stealing the work of others” “It violates intellectual property rights” “It is against Islam”  “It does not help me learn”
  26. 26. Plagiarism Survey Results Summary 26  From the results of the plagiarism survey, it seems that students think that it is less serious than cheating during an exam. Lower percentage of correlating plagiarism with being‘anti- religion’ compared to cheating.
  27. 27. Recommendations 27  Students should be made aware of the seriousness of plagiarism.  Students should be warned about legal issues that may be involved.  Proper citation and referencing methods should be taught.  Students should also try to improve their language and writing skills.  Introductory research methods and writing courses should be given to all students starting from the undergraduate level.  Plagiarism detection software should be used.
  28. 28. 28
  29. 29. Future Work 29  Examine whether the level of study is related to cheating and plagiarism. Whether students at introductory courses cheat more or less than students who are approaching graduation.  Whether there is an effect of gender on the tendency and prevalence of cheating.
  30. 30. References 30  Manar Hosny and Shameem Fatima,“Investigating Female Students’Attitude towards Cheating and Plagiarism:A Study in King Saud University”.The 2013 International Conference on Frontiers in Education: Computer Science and Computer Engineering, LasVegas – USA, 2013.  Manar Hosny and Shameem Fatima.“Attitude of Students Towards Cheating and Plagiarism: University Case Study”. Journal ofApplied Sciences.Vol 14 (8), PP. 748-757 March 2014.
  31. 31. 31 ThankYou! SKERG Seminar September 8th, 2015