Presented at the 2006 Environmental Water Resource Institute Annual Meeting, May 1, 2006. 12 pages. © 2006 American Society of Civil Engineers. Publisher website: http://www.asce.org. The definitive version is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/40856(200)341
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Trevor Harding was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
Student academic dishonesty, commonly referred to as cheating, has become a serious problem at institutions of higher education. This is particularly true of engineering students who, according to previous research, are among the most likely to cheat in college. In addition, research on college students in all fields has indicated that such behavior is more common among students who participate in academic dishonesty at the high school level and that it is correlated with other deviant or unethical behaviors, such as petty theft and lying. If, in fact, such correlations do exist, one might hypothesize that there is also a relationship between academic dishonesty in college and deviant or unethical behavior in professional practice. Placing this relationship in the context of higher levels of academic dishonesty among engineering students only increases the seriousness of the problem for engineering educators, professionals, corporations, and society. To investigate this concern, the authors have undertaken two research projects. The first project focused on the Perceptions and Attitudes toward Cheating among Engineering Students (PACES-1). The goal of the research was to develop a better understanding of what students and faculty perceive as cheating and to use this knowledge to help instructors and institutions increase the level of academic integrity. The second project examined the correlation between academic dishonesty and unethical behavior with a majority of the students in the sample having worked for a considerable period of time during their college years. This provided a unique opportunity to study the connection between academic dishonesty and professional behavior within the same sample of individuals. This paper will discuss some of the implications of academic dishonesty on professional ethical behavior and provide an overview of the two investigations conducted by the authors.
Materials Science and Engineering