In the other condition, participants’ scores were tallied by a proctor in the room. Carrell found that, thanks to peer effects, one new college cheater is “created” through social contagion for every two to three additional high school cheaters admitted to a service academy.
As might be expected, several students in the first condition inflated their scores to receive more money. “This behavior is most likely transmitted through the knowledge that other students are cheating,” says Carrell, who conducted the study with James West, Ph D, and Frederick Malmstrom, Ph D, both of the Air Force Academy.
There’s also evidence that focusing on honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility and promoting practices such as effective honor codes can make a significant difference in student behaviors, attitudes and beliefs, according to a 1999 study by the Center for Academic Integrity.
Honor codes seem to be particularly salient when they engage students, however.
At UCSD, for example, all freshmen must complete an online tutorial on academic integrity before they can register for their second-semester classes.
Professors are also encouraged to explain the importance of academic integrity in their syllabi and to take time during the first week of class to talk about the behaviors that constitute cheating in their courses, as well as the consequences for engaging in those behaviors.
Davis, Ph D, emeritus professor of psychology at Emporia State University and co-author of “Cheating in School: What We Know and What We Can Do” (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009).
New research by psychologists seems to suggest that the best way to prevent cheating is to create a campus-wide culture of academic integrity.
“It was impressive to us how exposing participants to an honor code and really making morality salient in that situation basically eliminated cheating altogether,” she says.
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