College of Health Professions Faculty Attitudes and Behaviors Toward Cheating and Academic Integrity

Dereczyk, Amy, and Linda Thiel

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine faculty in the College of Health Professions attitude towards academic integrity. Three integrity factors were assessed: academic environment, cheating behaviors, and perceived seriousness of specific cheating behaviors.

Methods:   After receiving local IRB approval, an anonymous online survey was disseminated to all faculty in the College of Health Professions at the University of Detroit Mercy in Detroit, Michigan.  Potential participants were contacted through the university’s e-mail account. Respondents were directed to an online site to complete the academic integrity survey.  This descriptive study was part of a larger study that was administered to faculty and students in the whole college.

Results:  The response rate was 50.8[AD1]  % (n = 30). The majority of respondents (71.9%) indicated “never” seeing a student cheat during an exam. Personal opinions of cheating frequency on campus during a test or exam were reported as “never” (11.4%) or “very seldom” (22.9%) occurring. 79% of respondents reported to have seen a UDM student cheat during a test or exam. Respondents’ perception of the seriousness of cheating behaviors was consistent with the majority of respondents indicating serious cheating for:  fabricating or falsifying a bibliography (66.7%), working on an assignment with others when the instructor asked for individual work (69.7%), getting questions or answers from someone who has already taken a test (93.9%), helping someone else cheat on a test (97%), fabricating or falsifying research data (96.9%), copying from another student during a test or exam without his/her knowledge (97%).  The majority of respondents reported it was likely or very likely (96.6%) that they would report an incident of cheating that they observed.  Improper behavior in the clinical settings was evaluated.  The majority of respondents indicated serious cheating for:  failing to take vital signs (96.4%), failing to complete an expected duty (96.4%), contaminating a sterile field and not reporting it (96.4%), giving a patient the wrong medicine and not reporting it (100%).  Most respondents (66.7%) were unsure if the investigation of incidents of cheating were fair and impartial.

When asked if cheating was a serious problem in their college, 46.6% of respondents were unsure.

Conclusions:

Faculty have a clear idea of what constitutes cheating in both the academic and clinical setting.  However, faculty are unclear if cheating is a serious problem or if the investigations of incidents of cheating are fair and impartial.  The larger study that this study is a part of will help determine the extent to which cheating occurs longitudinally.  In addition, better documentation of the process of investigation is needed within the college.