Research has shown that colleges and universities with honor codes that are backed by an institutional culture of ethical behavior experience fewer incidents of student cheating than those with no codes or codes that are not reinforced with institutional expectations. (Donald L. McCabe, Linda Klebe Trevino & Kenneth D. Butterfield. 2001. Cheating in Academic Institutions: A Decade of Research. Ethics & Behavior. 11(3):219–232). Even in the absence of an honor code, these researchers found that creating a culture of ethical behavior, even at the level of the classroom, could have a significant positive impact on the likelihood of student cheating.
As to implementing such a culture, the University of North Carolina’s Center for Faculty Excellence’s blog, CFE 100+ Tips for Teaching Large Classes, offers practical and concrete examples in Tip #27: Discourage Cheating by Providing Moral Reminders and Logistical Obstacles. They suggest having a brief discussion about cheating before a test, and asking students to write out and sign the honor code. Even if there is no specific honor code at the institution, faculty can ask students to write a statement on their exams saying that they will not give or receive assistance.This is most effective if done before, rather than at the end of the test.
The UNC blog post also offers examples for making it logistically impossible to cheat. These tips will be particularly useful for faculty teaching large classes and using multiple choice questions on exams.
Macie Hall, Senior Instructional Designer
Center for Educational Resources
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