BYU-Idaho's Culture of Academic Integrity

The RED team conducted a study during Spring 2017 about student and faculty perspectives on BYU-Idaho's culture of academic integrity. This article mentions some of the key findings. For full details, read the comprehensive report (linked at bottom).

According to McCabe & Trevino (1993), cheating on college campuses is highly influenced by social perceptions and cultural norms. Students are more likely to cheat if they believe their peers cheat, or if they perceive it is socially acceptable. In other words, if everyone thinks that everyone is cheating, then everyone cheats. Thus, honor codes and other proactive efforts to influence academic culture have been shown to significantly impact the prevalence of cheating on college campuses.

How BYU-Idaho Measures Up

A recent study done at BYU-Idaho1 suggests that, in general, the University has a strong culture of academic integrity; both students and instructors tend to believe cheating is unacceptable and uncommon. For example, 58% of students and 36% of instructors surveyed (both campus and online) reported that cheating is "not acceptable." Additionally, 83% of students, and 58% of instructors surveyed (both campus and online) reported that “no one” or “one or two” of their peers/students were academically dishonest.

Online vs. Campus Perceptions

A comparison of campus vs. online student perceptions also revealed a strong culture of academic integrity in BYU-Idaho online courses (Figures 1, 2).

Select Statistics

  • 78% of online students and 42% of campus students reported that cheating is "not acceptable" (Figure 1).
  • 96% of online students and 74% of campus students believed that "no one" or "one or two" of their peers were academically dishonest (Figure 2).
  • 68% of online instructors and 45% of campus instructors believed that "no one" or "one or two" of their students were academically dishonest.
  • Online instructors were more likely than campus instructors to suggest that students receive a failing assignment grade and be reported to the Honor Office for using someone else’s answers on an assignment.

So Nobody Cheats?

Not necessarily. Academic integrity remains an important concern at BYU-Idaho. However, because students at BYU-Idaho generally believe that very few, if any, of their peers cheat, they may be less likely to do so themselves. In fact, over the past year there has been an average of 1.1 academic integrity violations per thousand students enrolled at BYU-Idaho (campus and online). While online students appear to cheat at a slightly higher rate (1.6 violations online vs. 0.6 on campus per 1,000 students), this may be due to new reporting methods and training initiatives in recent years.

How Can We Promote a Culture of Academic Integrity?

In general, students, instructors, administrators, and academic literature recommend a few steps that can be taken to encourage and preserve a culture of academic integrity. These recommendations have been compiled into a quality practice: Encouraging Academic Integrity, and will be published Spring 2018.

About the Study

Read the comprehensive report 

See the presentation

The survey used in this report was conducted in Spring 2017 by the Online and pathway Research (OPR) department. Students and instructors answered questions related to (a) the perceived prevalence of cheating in online vs. campus courses, (b) the social acceptability of cheating at BYU-Idaho, and (c) how academic integrity might be improved.  In addition, OPR conducted interviews with administrators in the Honor Code Office and the Testing Center in order to gain an institutional perspective.

Survey Response:

  • 319 students (27% response rate)
    • 65% female
    • 46% online students
    • 42% single
    • 3.42 mean GPA
    • 61 majors
  • 331 instructors (63% response rate)

Boehm, P. J., Justice, M., & Weeks, S. (2009). Promoting academic integrity in higher education. The Community College Enterprise, 15(1), 45.

Grijalva, T. C., Nowell, C., & Kerkvliet, J. (2006). Academic honesty and online courses.College Student Journal,40(1).

Heberling, M. (2002). Maintaining academic integrity in online education.Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration,5(2).

Lanier, M. M. (2006). Academic integrity and distance learning.Journal of Criminal Justice Education,17(2), 244-261.

Macdonald, R., & Carroll, J. (2006). Plagiarisma complex issue requiring a holistic institutional approach. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 31(2), 233-245.

McCabe, D. L., & Trevino, L. K. (1993). Academic dishonesty: Honor codes and other contextual influences.The Journal of Higher Education,64(5), 522-538.

McCabe, D. L., Trevino, L. K., & Butterfield, K. D. (2002). Honor codes and other contextual influences on academic integrity: A replication and extension to modified honor code settings.Research in higher Education,43(3), 357-378.

Olt, M. R. (2002). Ethics and distance education: Strategies for minimizing academic dishonesty in online assessment.Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration,5(3).

Raines, D. A., Ricci, P., Brown, S. L., Eggenberger, T., Hindle, T., & Schiff, M. (2011). Cheating in online courses: The student definition.Journal of Effective Teaching,11(1), 80-89.

Watson, G. R., & Sottile, J. (2010). Cheating in the digital age: Do students cheat more in online courses?

About this article

Responsible: Steve Stokes (Researcher, OPR)

Accountable: Director of OPR (Ben Fryar)

Consulted: Organizational Learning Team

Informed: OPR, RED Team

Sharing: Restricted (OPR)


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