Why do students cheat? A study of students’ motivations for cheating and plagiarism.
  • February 18, 2019

Why do students cheat? A study of students’ motivations for cheating and plagiarism.

With the integrity of universities at stake, an increase in academic misconduct cases, and over 40 vice-chancellors calling for a ban on essay-writing companies it is important to understand why students are turning towards cheating and plagiaristic behaviours.

In a recent Alterline study with 11 university libraries we found that 78% of students had shared answers with their course-mates and 24% had copy and pasted text without referencing it. Furthermore 22% of students have asked somebody else to complete their assignment and 14% told us they had paid somebody else to complete one. Perhaps students aren’t always clear about the boundaries of cheating and plagiarism?

Supporting students away from cheating and plagiaristic behaviours – a collaborative research opportunity

Understanding and influencing the behaviours and attitudes of students is integral to reducing academic misconduct.  Our new research project will provide the intelligence and insight to better understand the reasons and motivations behind students cheating and develop recommendations and actions to help universities support students away from such behaviour.

The project will enable you to:

  • Strengthen your approach to academic integrity and misconduct by better understanding the experiences and motivations of students
  • Clarify students understanding of the boundaries around cheating and plagiarism
  • Use the evidence to build effective communication that drives students away from these behaviours
  • Improve student engagement with staff, using channels and messages that work for both
  • Use evidence to target essay-mill companies at your institution and reduce their influence
  • Gather persuasive, independent evidence to engage your internal stakeholders and strengthen your business cases for further project funding

What will the research cover?

Our research will be focused on understanding students’ behaviours, attitudes and motivations around cheating and plagiarism as well as exploring what students think these terms mean. Being part of this collaboration means you can help shape the research questions. As a guide, at this stage we expect to explore:

How will it work?

For this collaboration, we will:

  • Start the process with a workshop with all our collaborating partners to share views and shape the research
  • Design the questionnaire informed by a wider literature review, and circulate it for your comment and approval
  • Conduct a national survey of approximately 500 students from across the UK
  • Facilitate a national on-line qualitative community with students
  • Undertake detailed analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data
  • Run a concluding collaborative workshop to discuss the results and share action plans.

In addition, you will receive:

  1. A full research report to be used by your team that contains the literature review, methodology, findings and our independent practical recommendations
  2. A PowerPoint summary, to help you distribute the findings to key stakeholders across your university
  3. A short summary paper to be shared with colleagues across the sector, recognising your involvement as a project partner.

What is the timing?

The project will kick-off with a collaboration workshop with the participating partners in May and the full report will be delivered by September 2019.

Why collaborate? 

Alterline’s unique collaborative research model brings universities together to work on common challenges and build communities of innovative practice. By taking part you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Help shape the research design
  • Share ideas and build links with other institutions
  • Save time and resource with Alterline’s full-service research support
  • Gain detailed insights from the full strategic research report and easily implement actions from the practical recommendations
  • Easily share high level insights with your key stakeholders from summary documents and presentations.

What does it cost?

Joining this collaboration means you will have access to the valuable insights and practical recommendations for just £8,250 (excl. VAT). This is a fraction of the cost of commissioning individual research, providing superb value for money.

Join or find out more

If you’d like to chat about joining the collaboration, or want to know more please contact Ben Hickman on 0161 503 5760 or ben.hickman@alterline.co.uk