Washington, May 12 (IANS) Most high-school students admitted cheating during tests and, in some cases, considered it normal.
The study by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) gauged both the prevalence and perceptions of cheating among high-school students.
It found that the practice is widespread and many students carry misperceptions about academic dishonesty, and also identified patterns among students that may help teachers stop it.
"Students generally understand what constitutes cheating, but they do it anyway," said Kenneth Kiewra, professor of educational psychology at UNL and one of the study's authors.
"They cheat on tests, homework assignments and when writing reports. In some cases, though, students simply don't grasp that some dishonest acts are cheating," said Kiewra.
Researchers assembled the data from an anonymous survey of 100 members of the junior class of a large midwestern high school.
Students were asked to share their beliefs and experiences with cheating as it pertained to tests, homework and report writing.
The results suggested that in some ways, students had clear views of what constituted cheating - not that it stopped them from doing it.
For example, 89 percent said glancing at someone else's answers during a test was cheating, but 87 percent said they'd done that at least once.
Also, 94 percent said providing answers to someone during a test was cheating, but 74 percent admitted to doing it.
Other behaviours weren't as cut-and-dried in the minds of students. Surprisingly, only 47 percent said that providing test questions to a fellow student, who had yet to take a test, was academically dishonest, and nearly seven out of 10 admitted to doing so.
"The results suggest that students' attitudes are tied to effort. Cheating that still required students to put forth some effort was viewed as less dishonest than cheating that required little effort," Kiewra said.
For example, divulging test answers was likely perceived more dishonestly (84 percent) than divulging test questions (47 percent) because receiving test questions still requires some effort to uncover the answer, he said, according to a UNL release.
In general, attitudes on what constitutes cheating when it comes to homework and reports were less pronounced than in the case of cheating during tests.
The study appears in the current edition of Mid-Western Educational Researcher.