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Communications Professor Surveys Students
For Knowledge on Academic Integrity
by Susan katsaros


From Dateline (March 27, 2003)

Students cheatingWhat qualifies as academic dishonesty? Do students in today's high-technology world understand cheating?

Andi Stein, assistant professor of communications, was so upset when she learned that students from her class had used copy from a bookstore website without attribution, she decided to bring the rightful author to class for a discussion on the issue. The experience prompted her to survey approximately 300 communications students about different aspects of academic integrity, including use of material from the Internet.

“Survey results revealed that in some cases students are very clear about practices that constitute breaches of academic integrity - cheating on tests, for example,” said Stein. “In other cases, however, student responses indicated ambiguity about certain issues - such as cutting and pasting information from the Internet, or taking a writing assignment completed for one class and submitting the same assignment to another class.”

The researcher noted that “students have wide-ranging opinions about the availability of information on the Internet and how far they can go in adopting this information for their own use and incorporating it into their work.”

Ninety percent of students surveyed believed cheating on tests is a breach of academic integrity, and 80 percent believed copying uncited material from a book or magazine and incorporating it into a writing assignment also is a breach of integrity, said Stein.

“Only 41 percent believe completing a writing assignment for a class and later submitting the same assignment to another class is a breach of academic integrity,” she added. Another 19 percent weren't sure if this was cheating.

“I think the survey results indicate that some of the rules related to different aspects of academic integrity appear to be unclear to a number of students,” concluded Stein. “In addition, students may need clearer guidelines about the ethics involved in using information found on the Internet.”

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