Academic honesty has been of growing concern throughout educational institutions worldwide. The Internet has become a key resource in the growth of plagiarism. Academic honesty refers to the process of learning in an upright and fair manner. This manner is free from any forms of fraud and/or deceit of any form (Whitley, 2001).
Academic honesty has been an issue of concern that dates as far back to the introduction of examinations. Cheating has always existed, however, the various forms of cheating has evolved through the many avenues of technology that currently exist today. There are many forms of academic dishonesty, such as plagiarism, copyright infringement, double dipping, and collusion. The Internet has become a rapid transit with students of every age and gender. It has made an all-time high within students in college, online and traditional classroom settings (Boehm, Justice & Weeks, 2009).
Academic dishonesty comes in many shapes and disguises. The most widely used of academic dishonesty is plagiarism. Plagiarism is one individual claiming work that has already been written by another and failing to cite or paraphrase the work. With the influx of online learning available, the gateway for students to proceed through it and become dishonest and deceitful has exacerbated than those students who have chosen the traditional classroom setting (Everson, 2011).
The worldwide web produces hundreds of websites that offer essays, both prewritten and tailor-made, term papers, thesis’s, and book reports. Some of the websites lead students in believing they are research based, when in
actuality they are sites with pre-written papers there for the taking or for a nominal fee. It is estimated that 30% of students plagiarize on all of their papers (Boehm, Justice & Weeks, 2009). Unethical behavior can begin in high school and 80% of the students on the road to college have cheated in some form at least once (Boehm, Justice & Weeks, 2009).
Online learning has the potential of creating an environment in which cheating and plagiarizing is rampant. Some argue that those students who make the moral choice not to participate in cheating have a higher virtue of academic character (Staats, Hupp & Hagley, 2008). These tools can be either a student’s best friend or worst enemy. The Internet has made academic dishonesty an easy venture for many. At the present time it is easier than ever to find work that belongs to other people on any topic of choice and pass it off as their own.
Many individuals seek to obtain that goal in receiving a college degree. Because of the rising of students needing to earn a living and wanting to achieve that goal, online learning has reached an all-time high (Klein, 2007). Online learning is achieved through motivation, dedication, and good old hard work. Teamwork is a necessity in the online learning environment. The resources available through the Internet and library are a plethora of information that is out there. Maintaining academic honesty is honorable and an important part of online learning.
Essays, papers, and assignments are the main tools used in an online learning environment. It has become easier and easier for students to copy and paste another students work and claim it as their own. Integrity needs to be an individual’s best friend. Citing work and referencing the original authors will eliminate any questions or concerns regarding whether or not the work is original work that has been done (Soles, 2009). The University of Phoenix posts their policy regarding academic integrity along with the tools accessible for a student to use to avoid any concerns.
The University of Texas has written reports that state half of its plagiarism cases involve students lifting information from a website without crediting the source (Lipson, 2004). This is only one statistic that has been reported among the thousands out there. Due to the rise in dishonesty, this has led to the development of policies that will eliminate academic dishonesty and make those accountable who are ignoring the policies that are in place.
Academic dishonesty has been discovered through various ways. It can be as simple as cheating directly off another students test, having another student submit work on behalf of another, obtaining the test from another student, and finally, seeking unauthorized information to use on assignments via Internet, e-mails, etc. Academically, students are continually trying to get the edge of one another and will seek any and all means in doing so. This is the number one reason academic dishonesty is breached (Klein, 2007).
One of the nation’s top schools has been identified as being so competitive [to receive top grades] that its hyper ambitious [sic] students carry calculators to compute their up-to-the-minute GPAs (Klein, 2007). For students to be so competitive over grades that they carry calculators MAINTAINING 5
around constantly to figure out their GPAs makes it seem as though students are losing sight of what grades mean, rather than viewing them as accomplishments. Experts feel strongly that rankings such as this should not exist (Whitley, 2001). Pressure can only exacerbate academic dishonesty and students will seek out the easy way to keep up with the pecking order.
The universities that produce a large number of degrees within the fields of business, medicine, engineering, science, and arts have been found to have the highest statistics of academic dishonesty (Choong & Brown, 2007). The field of education has not gone on unscathed through these accusations. Educators have the task of preparing individuals who will be teaching the future generations of America. Through these teachings, the ability to demonstrate a positive influence and to uphold honest practices academically will profoundly affect generations to come (Choong & Brown, 2007).
The maintaining of academic honesty faces many milestones in upholding the student’s code of academic integrity. There are many ways in which integrity can be maintained and encouraged. Most universities have guidelines and policies and procedures that will reduce the risk of plagiarism. Academic honesty is a vital tool in ensuring that the students who graduate from distinguished universities and have earned that degree on the highest level of integrity. The negativity that surrounds academic dishonesty assaults the virtue and integrity of major institutions worldwide. The degrees produced from institutions that tolerate this negative behavior diminish the character of the future graduates to come (Staats, Hupp & Hagley, 2008).
Universities are being asked to be accountable and to put into place policies of academic integrity that will build strong character development among their students. Universities are MAINTAINING 6
being asked to influence their students and educate them within the parameters of academic integrity (Boehm, Justice & Weeks, 2009). Academic dishonestly can cost the universities loss of integrity within the school, loss of ethics, values, and use up valuable time from the administration. One way universities can be successful and graduate students who hold academic integrity are to put strategies into place that will be clearly understood and effective. In addition to these strategies, the university needs to provide the resources and support to the faculty to implement these strategies.
Additional training and professional development amongst the faculty will produce a positive learning environment. The development and implementation of codes of honor will allow students who are seeking higher learning to graduate with not only a goal of achieving that degree but also to uphold the level of academic honesty and integrity. These codes of honor need to be assessable through various means, such as websites, syllabus’s and student handbooks.
Although academic honesty is reaching an all-time high, students must prevail and reduce the statistics drastically. Maintaining academic integrity is a goal that each individual must strive to uphold. The rewards of maintaining integrity will far outweigh the sleepless nights it took to achieve that the work is indeed original work.
Boehm, P. J., Justice, M., & Weeks, S. (2009). Promoting academic integrity in higher education. The Community College Enterprise, 15(1), 45-61. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/218800671?accountid=458 Choong, P., & Brown, B. S. (2007). THE FUTURE OF ACADEMIC HONESTY. Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, 11(2), 91-102. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/214227161?accountid=458 Michelle Everson. 2011. Academic Honesty in the Online Environment. eLearn 2011, 3, pages. DOI=10.1145/1966297.1966302 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1966297.1966302 Klein, H. A.(2007) Business majors integrity and dishonesty is reported to be at an all time high compared to other fields of education. Journal of Business Ethics.(2007). 72:197-206. Retrieved June 21, 2013from EBSCOhost database.
Lipson, Charles (2004). Doing Honest Work in College: How to Prepare Citations, Avoid Plagiarism, and Achieve Real Academic Success. Chicago, IL; University of Chicago Press; 1st edition. Staats, S., Hupp, J. M., & Hagley, A. M. (2008). Honesty and heroes: A positive psychology view of heroism and academic honesty. The Journal of Psychology, 142(4), 357-72. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/213824881?accountid=458 MAINTAINING 8
Soles, Derek (2009). The Essentials of Academic Writing. Boston, MA; Wadsworth. Whitley, Bernard (2001). Academic Dishonesty: An Educators Guide. Mahwah, NJ;Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.