JOLT – Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

    • The Impact of an Honor Code on Cheating in Online Courses Frank M. LoSchiavo Department of Psychology Ohio University-Zanesville Zanesville, OH 43701 USA Mark A. Shatz Department of Psychology Ohio University-Zanesville Zanesville, OH 43701 USA
      • Contrary to expectations, no significant difference in self-reported cheating emerged between students who signed the honor code (61.5%) and students who did not sign the code (50%).
        • students who signed an honor code were about 30% less likely to report cheating (57.6%) than those who did not sign (81.8%)
          • the immediacy (i.e., perceived social distance) of the instructor is one key factor that influences compliance with honor codes in online courses.
            • the growth rate for online enrollment (17%) continues to outpace the overall growth rate for enrollments in higher education (1.2%). This trend presents new challenges for protecting academic integrity, particularly in online courses where instructors cover large quantities of fact-based information and typically rely on multiple-choice assessments for measuring academic performance (Jordan, 2003; Trenholm, 2006).
              • Honor codes can reduce cheating on exams (e.g., Konheim-Kalkstein, Stellmack, & Shilkey, 2008; McCabe, Treviño, & Butterfield, 2002 ), but they are less effective on larger campuses, where the social and instructional environment is typically less personal and students are less likely to collectively support a norm of academic integrity (Arnold, Martin, Jinks, & Bigby, 2007)
                • These results suggest that honor codes might be less effective for online instruction as well because of the physical and psychological distance between online instructors and students. If online students feel socially isolated and are unable to personally connect with their instructor or their peers, then the temptation to cheat may be overwhelming (Gibbons, Mize, & Rogers, 2002). Mastin, Peszka, and Lilly (2009) provided initial evidence that honor codes may be relatively ineffective online. However, they focused on the cheating behaviors of traditional students engaged in an online extra-credit task and did not examine academic integrity among online students completing required assessments
                  • Across three studies, the majority of students readily took advantage of risk-free cheating during at least one of the 14 online quizzes. Perhaps even more distressing is that an honor code had no effect on self-reported cheating in the fully asynchronous online class. Fortunately, an honor code did reduce self-reported cheating in the blended course, suggesting that the academic environment plays a critical role in a student’s decision to abide by such a pledge
                    • Which environmental factors are most likely to influence compliance? One possibility is the apparent immediacy (i.e., perceived social distance; Kelley & Gorham, 1988; Gibbons et al., 2002) between the instructor and the students. Drawing from Bandura’s (1991) theory of thought and action, Nadelson (2006) suggested that students who are socially disconnected easily justify dishonest behavior
                      • students in blended courses have at least some personal interaction with their instructor and fellow students, and this social connection might make them feel more obligated to stand by their pledge.
                        • teaching online – students will likely cheat
                          • instructors
                            • authors recommend that honor codes be used whenever possible, but that they must be augmented by common sense strategies, such as proctoring. Although proctoring is less convenient for students and instructors, it is one of the most reliable methods for ensuring academic integrity
                              • Honor Code Consistent with the Ohio University Student Code of Conduct, I agree that all the assignments, quizzes, and exams I complete will represent my work and my work only. I also understand that all forms of academic misconduct are prohibited. Academic misconduct includes, but is not limited to, all forms of cheating, including the use of unauthorized materials, plagiarism, false identification, and forgery. In addition, I understand that it is my duty and my responsibility to inform the instructor if I become aware of any violations to this Honor Code.
                                • This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share-Alike License For details please go to:

                                Get Blog Updates via Email!

                                Enter your email address:

                                Delivered by FeedBurner

                                PingIt! pingthis();

                                Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure