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Level of Awareness of the Havoc and Consequences of Academic Dishonesty among College of Education Students in Nigeria

Luka Tambaya, Magdalene Victor, Victor Markus
American Journal of Educational Research. 2020, 8(3), 168-172. DOI: 10.12691/education-8-3-7
Received February 10, 2020; Revised March 12, 2020; Accepted March 26, 2020

Abstract

It is expected that students from Colleges of Education will lead learning for the next generation. For this reason, any unchecked dishonest behavior in these students may have far-reaching consequences. This study assesses the awareness of the havoc and consequences of Academic Dishonesty (AD) among students of Federal College of Education Zaria Nigeria. The students were administered valid questionnaires using purposive sampling technique and the data collected was analyzed by relevant statistics tools. Overall, the results indicated that Students’ Poor Awareness of the Havoc and Consequences of AD (SPAHCAD) significantly (p<0.05) predict AD. The findings in this study corroborate Becker’s Crime Theory and suggest that improving students’ awareness of institutional policies, serving severe penalties to defaulters and reviving interest in honor codes could better bring down the menace of unethical academic behaviors in our schools.

1. Introduction

Colleges of education prepare students for the teaching profession 1. The expectation, therefore, is that graduates of these Colleges of Education will lead learning for the next generation 2. It does mean that any unchecked dishonest behavior in these graduates could be transferred to the next generation with far-reaching consequences. This, therefore, makes it critical that authorities and policymakers in education pay attention to addressing AD especially in our colleges of Education.

AD is any behavior that does not tally with the requirements and policies of academic assessment stated in an institution 3. Reports have shown that students who engaged in dishonest practices while in school are more likely to be involved in unethical conduct in the workplace 4, 5. AD is a complex problem that experts have attempted to explain using a number of theoretical models. One of the accepted and popular models used by many educationists 6, 7, 8, 9 for a long time to explain AD is Becker’s economic model of crime 10. It proposes that crime is a rational act. Criminal acts are based on the perception that the expected benefits are higher than the costs. When the benefit of a criminal act is viewed to be greater than the consequence, the frequency of that act is expected to increase. AD is increased when the perceived benefits seem greater than the cost. However, the more measures for apprehending cheats, serving severe punishments and rewarding honesty are taken, the fewer students would likely engage in AD.

Over the years, many factors have been identified and implicated in the prevalence of AD. These factors include high student to teacher ratios 11, pressure to get high grades in order to improve one’s chance for scholarship, admission to graduate programs and job prospects 12, peers influence 11 and students’ lack of awareness of school regulations on academic misconduct 13, 14, 15. Other factors such as gender 16, 17 and age 3, 18 still remained controversial.

A study conducted by Birks and colleagues 19 revealed that most students agreed that severe punishment and statement signing will reduce AD. It, therefore, seems that many students may stay away from dishonest practices by the threat of pain. In agreement with the report of Birks and colleagues, Ismail 20 observed that lack of awareness of the seriousness and legal consequences of AD increase unethical behavior among students. Just a verbal warning about cheating and announcements that honesty is an enforced policy before an examination was estimated to reduce cheating by 12 percent 9. The level of students’ collaboration has been shown to greatly increase because they do not think the collaboration was a serious transgression 11. Students believe that they committed no offense as long as the parties involved agree on the act 3. Yet, some students’ involvement in AD appears to be unintentional. Students in developing countries with poor command of English, limited academic resources and reference material may be prone to AD 3. Many students cannot correctly judge what AD constitutes 3, 21, 22. The need to identify possible gaps in the awareness of the havoc and consequences of AD especially among college of education students, perceived as the future decision-makers in education prompted this work.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Participants

The participants in this present study are students of Federal College of Education Zaria in Kaduna State, Nigeria, selected from the four (4) schools of the college: School of Arts and social sciences, school of sciences, school of languages, and school of vocational and technical education. Overall, the participants whose questionnaires were valid for analysis were 98 (50 male and 48 female), making up 98% of the total questionnaires filled.

2.2. Instrument

The research instrument used to collect data was a 9-item questionnaire structured based on study objectives and literature reviewed. A demographic section was added which highlights participants' variables such as gender, age group, Educational Level, and Economical status and School (Faculty). The instrument was assessed and approved by an experienced senior faculty member and researcher in the Department of Sociology, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. The measurement scale assigned is ordinal. In this study, Cronbach's alpha is 0.70.

2.3. Procedure

This study was carried out in Federal College of Education Zaria in Kaduna State, Nigeria. This institution awards the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) degree and the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE). It is believed that students from Colleges of Education will be the future decision-makers in education thus any unchecked unethical behavior in them can be transferred to the workplace and to the next generation. This informed the choice of the setting for this study. Participants were briefed on the aim of the study and administered the questionnaires. They were assured that their information will be handled with confidentiality and anonymity, and will be used solely for the intended purpose. The questionnaires were only administered to students that consented.

2.4. Data Analysis

First, descriptive statistics test was used for the data collected. The Mean Score and a table of percentages have been presented. Secondly, relevant statistic tools such as Regression analysis, Mann-Whitney test, Kruskal-Walli test and Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) using Principal Axis Factoring and orthogonal Varimax rotation were used to analyze the data. The relationship between AD and gender was analyzed using Mann-Whitney test while the relationship between AD, age group, Educational Level and Economical status, were analyzed using Kruskal-Walli test. The relationship between AD and SPAHCAD was analyzed by Simple Regression analysis. Factor structures developed were evaluated using EFA. All the analyses were conducted using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) software (Version16.0 IBM Armonk, New York). The p-value of 0.05 was considered significant for all the methods.

3. Results

In this study, there were 98 participants whose questionnaires were valid for analysis, 50 male (51.0%) and 48 female students (49.0%). The percentages of the age groups, level of education, and economic status of students are as presented in Table 1. The mean AD score of the total participants was 3.57 (SD = 1.09), with the minimum and maximum scores of 2 and 5 respectively. The mean of males' AD and SPAHCAD scores were 3.58 (SD = 1.09) and 3.62 (SD = 0.87) respectively while that of the females' were 3.57 (SD = 1.10) and 3.60 (SD = 0.93) respectively. The analysis of these data using Mann Whitney U test indicated that there was no statistically meaningful relationship (p>0.05) between the groups.

The mean AD score of students between the age group of 15-25 was 4.44 (SD = 0.66) while that of age group 26-35 and 36 and above were 2.50 (SD = 0.39) and 2.79 (SD = 0.25) respectively. Analysis of these data using Kruskal-Wallis test revealed that there was a statistically meaningful relationship (p<0.05) between the groups. The age group 15-25 indicated an AD mean rank of 71.09 while that of age group 26-35 and 36 and above revealed the AD mean ranks of 22.31 and 32.19 respectively, indicating that the younger student has the highest AD.

The mean AD scores for pre-NCE, NCE I, NCE II, NCE III, and B.Ed students were 4.81 (SD = 0.31), 4.70 (SD = 0.38), 3.32 (SD = 0.65), 2.52 (SD = 0.43) and 2.58 (SD =0.34) respectively. Analysis of these data using Kruskal-Wallis test revealed that there was a statistically meaningful relationship (p<0.05) between the groups. The AD mean rank for the Pre-NCE, NCE-I, NCE-II, NCE-III, and B.Ed were 80.72, 77.14, 43.32, 22.92, and 24.82 respectively. Here, it suggests that the pre-NEC students have the highest tendency to engage in academic misconduct.

The mean AD scores for very rich, rich, average, poor, and very poor students based on their parents’ economic status were 4.94 (SD = 0.19), 4.88 (SD = 0.28), 2.99 (SD = 0.76), 2.83 (SD = 0.24) and 2.50 (SD =0.24) respectively. Analysis of these data using Kruskal-Wallis test revealed that there was a statistically meaningful relationship (p<0.05) between the groups. The AD mean ranks for the very rich, rich, average, poor, and very poor students were 84.42, 81.32, 34.66, 33.50, and 21.25 respectively. It suggests that the stronger a student is economically the more prone he or she is to engage in academic misconduct.

Using EFA, some of the phrased questions in the instrument was not significant in our model and so were omitted. The measurement instrument has a Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) Measure of Sampling Adequacy of 0.62, indicating the data in this study were sufficient for the Factor Analysis because it is greater than 0.5 23, 24, 25. The Bartlett’s test of Sphericity χ2 (36) = 505.945, and the associated significance level (p < 0.001) reveals that there were patterned relationships amongst the items. The Cronbach's Alpha of 0.71 indicated that the reliability of the data instrument used was acceptable. The results revealed a two-factor model. The two factors generated were (i) SPAHCAD with a Cronbach’s Alpha of 0.70 and (ii) AD with a Cronbach’s Alpha of 0.80. The relationship between SPAHCAD and AD was assessed.

The mean SPAHCAD score was 3.61 (SD = 0.89) while the mean AD score was 3.57 (SD = 1.09). The Pearson correlation test result revealed that there was a statistically significant positive correlation between SPAHCAD and AD (r = 0.23, p<0.05). The ANOVA result (p<0.05, F (1, 96) = 5.260) revealed that SPAHCAD significantly predicts AD. From the regression analysis, R2 = 0.052 as shown in Table 2.

4. Discussion

No level of AD is acceptable. The institutions which are loose in handling AD risk breeding immoral future professionals. Because students of colleges of education will soon take positions that will educate and or draft out policies that will affect the next generation, any dishonest practice in these students could have far-reaching consequences. Therefore, to prevent the transfer of dishonest practices to the workplace and ensure quality delivery and sustainability, AD needs to be addressed in our schools. To this end, it is thought that when students are aware of the seriousness and the legal consequences of AD, their engagement in unethical conduct may reduce. Earlier studies have revealed that severe punishment and statement signing reduces the cases of AD 19.

Many factors implicated in the prevalence of AD have been reported. Yet, one that still remained controversial is gender. In this study, males’ AD scores showed no statistically meaningful relationship (p>0.05) when compared to females’ AD. Our findings corroborate the long observation of Hilbert 26. In contrast, other previous studies 17, 18 indicated that males have the highest tendency to be involved in AD than females. Yet some researchers showed that AD among females was significantly higher than in male students 16.

For the role of age in academic misconduct, our finding revealed that there was a statistically meaningful relationship (p<0.05) between the age groups’ AD. The younger students appeared to have the highest tendency to be engaged in unethical behaviors. Our finding agrees with the report of some previous studies 3, 19 although others revealed that there was no meaningful relationship between academic misconduct and the age of students 18.

In the analysis of the relationship between AD and the students’ level of education, our result revealed that there was a statistically meaningful relationship (p<0.05). Students in Pre-NCE showed the highest tendency to engage in unethical academic behavior followed by NCE-I. It does suggest, according to this study, that as new students come into school, they possess the highest tendency to be engaged in AD than older students. This may mean that the problem of AD could have roots from primary and secondary schools. The older students showed reduced tendency to engage in academic misconduct perhaps due to the orientation and better awareness of institutional policies on AD they had received over the years in school than younger ones who just arrived. There are indications that students become less tolerant of unethical behavior as they make progress in their academic program 27, although a previous study indicated no meaningful relationship between the likelihood to be involved in AD and year of study 18. Correspondently, it does seem, to effectively addressed AD in tertiary institutions, the fight needs to begin from the primary and secondary schools. Yet freshman orientation programs can be targeted as platform to give students AD-related information because such programs are often highly attended by students 3, 28. Training and orienting students on why they should avoid AD should however not end at freshman orientation programs but should be continuous and should include all students throughout their stay in school 3. Constant and continuous campaigns on the glory of good conduct could better reduce unethical academic misconduct.

It is believed that awareness campaign against unethical behavior should be beyond the school environment. A society that has not upheld integrity as a topmost priority may also have its young people taking it lightly. Students that have grown up to see leaders in the society around them engaging in unethical behavior yet without repercussion to their actions are likely to be more involved in AD 11. The place of faculty as role models of integrity and ethical behavior has been noted as paramount in building a culture of honesty among students 29. The well-behaved faculty will stand as an example to the students on matters of ethics and professionalism.

The result of this study further suggests that there was a statistically meaningful relationship (p<0.05) between AD and the economic status of students. It suggests that richer students are more likely to engage in unethical academic behavior.

Using EFA, the results revealed a two-factor model. The two factors generated were (i) SPAHCAD and (ii) AD. The relationship between SPAHCAD and AD was assessed. With a KMO of Sampling Adequacy of 0.62, the data was sufficient for the Factor Analysis 23, 24, 25. The Bartlett’s test of Sphericity χ2 (36) = 505.945 and p<0.001 reveals that the items had patterned relationships. More so, Cronbach's Alpha of 0.70 revealed that the internal consistency of the data instrument used was acceptable 30. For the two factors generated, SPAHCAD and AD, the Cronbach’s Alpha were 0.70 and 0.80 respectively, indicating their reliability was accepted too.

The Pearson correlation test result revealed that there was a statistically significant positive correlation between SPAHCAD and AD (r = 0.23, p<0.05). The ANOVA result (p<0.05, F (1, 96) = 5.260) revealed that SPAHCAD significantly predicts AD. In addition, the results of the regression analysis using AD as the criterion variable and SPAHCAD as the predictor revealed that SPAHCAD was a significant predictor of AD (β = 0.23, t (96) = 2.29, p<0.05). The regression equation was “off” by 1.067 points on average in predicting AD (Table 2). The R2 of 0.052 indicates a 5.2% variance in AD accounted for by SPAHCAD score, representing a somewhat moderate effect. Overall, SPAHCAD is a significant predictor of AD. This suggests that students do not see AD as a serious unethical behavior.

There is a need for school authorities to outline severe penalties for students who engage in AD. Many students engaging in AD have the perception that the benefits of engaging in academic misconduct far outweigh the cost 11. Yet being proactive in providing awareness on the approved academic ethical behaviors focusing on changing the mindsets of students long before they get involved in academic misconduct may better handle the problem 28, 31, 32. It would be better to deter students from unethical academic behavior than waiting for them to err and get punished. When students engage in AD, it just indicates how they don’t understand what education really is. For many students, they are pressured to be involved in AD to get high grades that will give them chances for scholarship, admission to graduate programs and jobs in the future 12. Students need to know that while the goal for a higher grade is good the means of getting the higher grades must be good too. They need to know the consequences of unethical actions and the glory of integrity. If students will understand the consequences of employing a crooked means to the top, both to their personal lives and to the society, they may refrain from any AD. Students may be prone to be involved in AD if they are not adequately informed on why it is bad. Experts have maintained that improved awareness of ethical conduct and revived interest on honor codes hold promises in curtailing the menace of AD 28, 32, 33, 34.

5. Conclusion

The result of this study revealed that students with poor level of awareness of the havoc and consequences of AD are likely to be more engaged in academic misconduct. The findings corroborate Becker’s Crime Theory that proposes that criminal acts continue when the expected benefits seem higher than the costs. Correspondingly, improving students’ awareness of institutional policies, serving severe penalties to students who engage in unethical behavior, and reviving interest in honor codes, could go a long way in reducing academic misconduct.

Further studies that tackle the limitations of this study are recommended. Our focus in this study was on Federal College of Education Zaria, suggesting that the responses were institution-specific thus may not yield the whole picture of the general patterns in Nigeria’s colleges of education. In addition, because the study was from a single college of education, the groups’ means were based upon small samples. For these reasons, caution needs to be exercised in extending our findings and inferences.

Acknowledgments

Our profound appreciation goes to Professor S. A. Nkom of blessed memory, Department of Sociology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, for his mentorship and contribution to this study.

Competing Interest

The authors have no competing interests.

Funding

None.

List of Abbreviations

AD: Academic Dishonesty

SPAHCAD: Students’ Poor Awareness of the Havoc and Consequences of AD

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Published with license by Science and Education Publishing, Copyright © 2020 Luka Tambaya, Magdalene Victor and Victor Markus

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Normal Style
Luka Tambaya, Magdalene Victor, Victor Markus. Level of Awareness of the Havoc and Consequences of Academic Dishonesty among College of Education Students in Nigeria. American Journal of Educational Research. Vol. 8, No. 3, 2020, pp 168-172. http://pubs.sciepub.com/education/8/3/7
MLA Style
Tambaya, Luka, Magdalene Victor, and Victor Markus. "Level of Awareness of the Havoc and Consequences of Academic Dishonesty among College of Education Students in Nigeria." American Journal of Educational Research 8.3 (2020): 168-172.
APA Style
Tambaya, L. , Victor, M. , & Markus, V. (2020). Level of Awareness of the Havoc and Consequences of Academic Dishonesty among College of Education Students in Nigeria. American Journal of Educational Research, 8(3), 168-172.
Chicago Style
Tambaya, Luka, Magdalene Victor, and Victor Markus. "Level of Awareness of the Havoc and Consequences of Academic Dishonesty among College of Education Students in Nigeria." American Journal of Educational Research 8, no. 3 (2020): 168-172.
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[1]  Haladyna, M.T. and Amrein-Beardsley, A, “Validation of a research-based student survey of instruction in a college of education,” Educational Assessment Evaluation and Accountability, 21(3). 255-276. August 2009.
In article      View Article
 
[2]  Aldhafeeri, F. and Male, T, “Investigating the learning challenges presented by digital technologies to the College of Education in Kuwait University,” Education and Information Technologies, 21. 1509-1519. 2016.
In article      View Article
 
[3]  Bayaa M.S.B.S., Ablordeppey, E., Mensah3 J.N. and Karikari, K.T,Academic dishonesty in higher education: students’ perceptions and involvement in an African institution,” BMC Research Notes, 9. 234. April 2016.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[4]  Nonis, S. and Swift, C.O, “An examination of the relationship between academic dishonesty and workplace dishonesty: A multicampus investigation,” Journal of Education for Business, 77. 69-77. March 2010.
In article      View Article
 
[5]  LaDuke, R.D, “Academic dishonesty today, unethical practices tomorrow?’ Journal of Professional Nursing, 29 (6). 402-406. November 2013.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[6]  Bunn, D., Caudill, S. and Cropper, D, “Crime in the classroom: An economic analysis of undergraduate student cheating behavior,” Journal of Economic Education, 23. 197-207. 1992.
In article      View Article
 
[7]  Kerkvliet, J, “Cheating by economics students: A comparison of survey results”, Journal of Economic Education, 25, 121-33. 1994.
In article      View Article
 
[8]  Nowell, C., and Laufer, D, “Undergraduate Student Cheating in the fields of Business and Economics,” The Journal of Economic Education 28(1). 3-12. 1997.
In article      View Article
 
[9]  Kerkvliet, J. and Sigmund L.C, “Can We Control Cheating in the Classroom?” The Journal of Economic Education 30 (4). 331-343. Fall 1999.
In article      View Article
 
[10]  Becker, G, “Crime and punishment: An economic approach,” Journal of Political Economy, 76 (2). 168-217. March -April 1968.
In article      View Article
 
[11]  McCabe, D. L. and Trevino, L. K, “What We Know About Cheating In College Longitudinal Trends and Recent Developments,” Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 28(1). 28-33. 1996.
In article      View Article
 
[12]  Brown, D. L, “Cheating Must Be Okay-Everybody Does It!” Nurse Educator, 27(1). 6-8. January-February 2002.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[13]  Ryan, G., Bonanno, H., Krass, I., Scouller, K. and Smith, L, “Undergraduate and postgraduate pharmacy students’ perceptions of plagiarism and academic,” American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 73 (6). 105. October 2009.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[14]  Jordan, E.A, “College Student Cheating: The Role of Motivation, Perceived Norms, Attitudes, and Knowledge of Institutional Policy,” Ethics & Behavior, 11(3). 233-247. 2001.
In article      View Article
 
[15]  Henning, A.M., Malpas, P., Manalo, E., Ram, S., Vijayakumar, V. and Hawken, J.S, “Ethical Learning Experiences and Engagement in Academic Dishonesty: A Study of Asian and European Pharmacy and Medical Students in New Zealand,” Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, 24(1). 201-209. March 2015.
In article      View Article
 
[16]  Hilbert, G. A, “Involvement of nursing students in unethical classroom and clinical behaviors’, Journal of Professional Nursing,” 1 (4). 230-234. 1985.
In article      View Article
 
[17]  Newstead, S. E., Franklyn-Stokes, A. and Armstead, P. “Individual differences in student cheating,” Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(2). 229-241. June 1996.
In article      View Article
 
[18]  Theart, C.J. and Smit, I, “The status of academic integrity amongst nursing students at a nursing education institution in the Western Cape,” Curationis, 35(1). 27. June 2012.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[19]  Birks, M., Smithson, J., Antney, J., Zhao, L., Burkot, C, “Exploring the paradox: A cross-sectional study of academic dishonesty among Australian nursing students,” Nurse Education Today. 65, 96-101. June 2018.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[20]  Ismail H. K, “Perceptions of Plagiarism among Medical and Nursing Students in Erbil, Iraq,” Sultan Qaboos University Med J , 18 (2). 196-201. May 2018.
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