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Faculty perception on student academic honesty.

This study intends to investigate possible differences in student and faculty perception on student academic honesty and also proposes to detect possible differences in student variables such as year level and gender in view of the issue, and faculty gender difference in prospect of the same concern. Results indicate that faculty members tend to perceive students in a negative manner concerning the matter of academic honesty. Significant differences were also found in student gender, while no significant differences were found regarding faculty gender. Differences in faculty and student perspectives may be attributed to the negative experiences of the faculty members to student performance.


Cheating is a violation of rules and regulations, a phenomenon most people abhor yet profess to have committed at one time or another under adverse conditions. In the area of education, academic dishonesty is a perennial problem that successfully eludes solutions. Thus, there is increasing interest to comprehend this academic dilemma that affects every institution. In terms of teacher-student relationship, perception of one group toward the other group with regard to cheating defines thought patterns between these two groups. Perception is deemed significant in any relationship as this affects interaction. How an individual or group would relate to another is often predisposed to by the preconceived notion of the other individual or group. Naturally, a pleasing preconception of a certain entity would result to a harmonious relationship. A contrite one would result otherwise. The area of morality centres as one of the fields that contribute to group interaction. Further, social comparison speaks of how one would view the actions of others to compare one's own view of deciding if one's perception of societal reality is correct. It is of this concern that a study to the different perceptions on student academic dishonesty between faculty and students is found relevant. Other variables that contribute to significant differences in perception shall also be considered.

A number of researches have been geared towards this issue. A study done by Ballew and Roig (1992) showed students' perception of professors' attitudes were very similar to the actual attitudes held by the professors. However, professors believed that students were more tolerant of cheating than students reported themselves to be. Greene and Saxe (1992) investigated the role of perceptions of normative behavior concerning academic cheating on self-reported cheating behaviors. The research showed that students viewed cheating as a normal occurrence and nothing out of the usual. Further, situational factors were considered pertinent to the act. Classroom environment was also viewed as a significant situational variable in academic dishonesty, with both attitudes and behavior being related to perceptions of classroom environment (Pulvers and Diekhoff 1999).

The research by R. Nolan, J. Smith and Y Dai (1998) focused on the faculty perception on student academic honesty. In view of the increasing importance of human interaction to society, a research similar in content and methodology is hereby presented in a different cultural setting. It is the purpose of this research to find out how the outcome of the said study (Dai, Nolan, and Smith 1998) relates to the change in the sample; it also intends to find out if the result of the previous study is culture bound.

This study would aspire to uncover (a) faculty perception on student academic honesty, (b) student variables such as gender and year level, affecting academic honesty and, (c) faculty variable that affects faculty perception on student academic honesty.


Forty eight faculty members and 180 undergraduate students majoring in Engineering and the Sciences at the University of the Philippines, Diliman were surveyed to uncover the different perceptions, if any, held by each group regarding academic dishonesty. Students were asked to answer a moral situations questionnaire with two options, the one option being more moral than the other. Student data collection was done using cluster random sampling. The faculty members were given similar questionnaires and they were asked to answer based on how they believe the majority of the university's students would react. Faculty data collection was done using convenience sampling. Data analyses were done using the chi-square method (cross tabulation). The same moral situations questionnaire was used in the survey, with an added item (no.5) that focuses on peer influence. Items 1, 3, 6, 9 were adapted to transpire in a non-academic setting while the rest (items 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10) in academic settings.

Results and Discussion

Significant differences on faculty and student perceptions were made apparent in items 2 ,4, 7, 8, 9 and 10. In the situation where the student attempts to look at the other student's answer sheet (item no.2), majority of the faculty members tend to think that the students would do so (62%) as opposed to the students' replies that they would not attempt to look at other student's answer sheet (67%). Apparently, faculty and students' perceptions with regard to the issue at hand are at odds. Teachers, over the years have observed that males tended to flex their heads more when doing seatwork or answering exercises than females. Looking then at somebody else's work has become a habit, in fact, a natural thing to do. A significant difference is also found in year levels in this item. More senior students would tend to look at the other student's answer sheet (57%) as compared to the other year levels. This could probably be explained with the fact that senior students have had more exposure to opportunities to cheat, as proportional to their stay in the university, thus making them more prone to commit the act.

When asked if they would resubmit an old report done by a friend (item no.4), 21 % of the student respondents said they would do so as compared to the comparatively high 42% of the faculty members with the same thought. From experience, teachers could have developed the notion that students, depending on their motivational goal decide whether they go to school for recognition or to acquire knowledge. Should the former be outweighed by the latter. Then, either the student submits or refuses to submit an old report.

For item no.7, forty-two (88%) out of the 48 faculty respondents believe that the students will stand outside the door while 6 (12%) say they would quickly enter the office to pick up a copy of the test.

Similarly, 175 (97%) out of the 180 students share the teachers' perception that they will stand outside the door and wait for the teacher rather than enter the office and grab a copy of the exam.

In the Philippines, a teacher's office is a sacred place. Perhaps the same is true in other parts of the world. According to Bandura, human behavior could be inhibited or uninhibited by the nature of environment people find themselves in. Once a student is ushered inside a teacher's office, he or she is expected to behave. By association, therefore, the place could be a deterrent to the commission of a crime. Who knows had the incident happened in the mimeographing room, the result could have been different. Nonetheless, in fairness to the youth, the result could be attributed to the fact that cognitive development enables one to demonstrate advanced moral behavior.

Results for item no.8 show that more faculty members (94%) tend to believe that the students will ask their friend to remember as many questions as possible from the exam, as compared to only 64% of the students with the same thought.

The result indicates that teachers see students as a group of persons rather as individuals with varied goals, motivations and style. The prevailing belief seems to be that if students A and B do it, chances are that students C and D follow suit.

The high percentage of students who will ask their friends to recall as many items in a test, reflect the tendency of many students to opt for immediate gratification rather than undertaking the grueling process of learning.

The result suggests the need to strengthen students' understanding of attribution principles of motivation.

From a total of 48 faculty respondents 36 (75%) say that given a situation where there are very few other motorists and no policemen around, students are likely to exceed the speed limit while 12 (25%) will obey the speed limit rule (item no.9).

On the other hand, of the 180 students surveyed, 80 (44.4%) say they will exceed the speed limit while 100 (55.6%) will obey.

It is evident that faculty's perception of students' moral behavior is not exactly positive. Viewed from the social development perspective, they believe that adolescents' love for adventure aside from peer pressure hinder their moral growth.

It is noteworthy to mention, however, that from the students' answers, majority will obey the speed limit rule as dictated by ethical principle. Studies have shown, however, that moral belief has little to do with moral behavior.

In the same item, seniors are found to exceed the speed limit (68%) more as compared to other year levels, followed by juniors (54%).

As for item no. 10, 62% of the faculty believes that students will take the stolen copy of the test. On the part of the Students, only 42% say they will take a stolen copy.

Results seem to imply teachers' notion that students' goal orientation centers on performance goal than on learning goal.

On the other hand, pressures to perform well by their families and friends, who themselves are pressured by their own families opt to take advantage of the situation.

Apparently, there is mismatch between teacher and student perception with regard to ethical behavior, more teachers than students say students will take the stolen copy of the test. Maybe, there is a need for teachers and students to get together to talk about sensitive issues like honesty, cheating and the like.

In terms of student gender, significant differences were found in items 1, 3, 6, 7. For item no.1, 95% of the female respondents will return the extra money compared to 84% of the male who will do so. Again, only 5% of the female say they will keep the money compared to 17% of the male respondents who will keep the money.

The results validate Gilligan's (1996) belief based on her extensive interviews with girls from 6 to 18 years of age. She found that girls consistently interpret moral dilemmas in terms of human relationships, not in terms of individual rights as invoked by Kohlberg. Hence, females think of what the clerk will be deprived of if the extra change will not be returned.

Similar to item no. 1, male (85%) and female (98%) respondents to item no. 3 show high percentage of moral behavior when they say they would return the money to the person who dropped it. Yet, it would be noted that more male (17%) than female (5%) respondents say they would keep the money than return it to the owner.

The results may be explained in terms of social desirability principle which in Kohlberg's theory is equivalent to the 'good boy good girl' perspective. Beyond this reasoning however, lies what Gilligan (1996) says about girls who upon reaching a critical juncture in their development in early adolescence give priority to relationships and concern for others. This explains why more female respondents say they would return the money to the owner.

To explain male respondents' behavior based on Kohlberg's theory, it could be mentioned that his theory is too individualistic and puts emphasis on the rights of the individual. Hence, for males, 'Finders Keepers'.

As for item no. 6, among the male respondents, fifty-eight (75%) say they would leave the parking space before getting caught while 19 (25%) say they would leave their name and number on the windshield of the other car whereas among the female respondents, fifty-six (57%) say that they would leave immediately while 43 (43%) say that they would leave their name and number.

The results may be interpreted to mean that more male and female respondents would run away from their moral obligation than face up to it. Developmentally, moral cognition would have compelled respondents to own up to the accident and therefore shows the contingent nature of moral responsibility among those involved. Since the consequence of the incident would involve inconvenience and logistics, they think it would be better to write everything off.

Despite a high percentage of the students replying that they will not grab a copy of the test (item no.7), difference is apparent in student gender perspective. Though only six percent of the male students will grab a copy of the test, none of the female students will do so.

The said differences in student gender perspectives can further be explained in interpersonal behaviors as viewed in social psychology where interacting with other people, men are less likely to share incentives or to divest themselves in order to help someone else.


The results of the study may be considered to some extent, culture bound but may also reflect universal perceptions of teachers toward students and students toward teachers on academic honesty. In the sense that when you ask a Filipino why he/she is honest, the person is likely to say, "My parents taught me to be honest" or "I want my parents to be proud of me." This shows that moral behavior is a social imperative, a leverage of family bonding, community status and the like.

Based also on the results of previous studies, here and elsewhere, show that the study is a universal phenomenon and therefore necessitate global reflection and action.

Table 1 Moral Situations Questionnaire

1. You are in a grocery store. The clerk totals your purchases. You pay cash. While giving you the change, the clerk is distracted and gives you back Php50.00 too much, which you notice immediately. Would you

a. return the extra Php50.00 to the clerk?

b. keep the money?

2. Instead of studying for your test, you did something else. During the test you notice that you can see the answer sheet of the person sitting beside you. This person made a good grade on the last test. The instructor's attention is elsewhere. Would you

a. attempt to look at the answers on the other student's answer sheet?

b. not look at the other student's answer sheet?

3. While walking in the mall, you notice that the person in front of you has dropped a Php500.00 bill out of his pocket while pulling out a handkerchief. No one else seems to have noticed. Would you

a. give the money to the person who dropped it?

b. keep the money?

4. You have a 5-page report due in two days. An older friend who received a "1.0" on a similar paper last year offers it to you. The instructor for the class changed since that time. Would you

a. resubmit the old report with your name?

b. refuse the old report?

5. Your friend cheated during the final exam. The professor called on you and promised to give you an extra 10 points credit, which you need badly, if you would testify against your friend. Would you

a. turn your friend in?

b. tell your professor that your friend did not cheat?

6. While pulling into the parking space you scrape the paint of the car in the space next to you rather badly. Would you

a. leave your name and number on the windshield of the other car?

b. pull out of the parking lot before you get caught?

7. You go to see the professor in a class wherein you are not doing well. When you reach his door, which is open, you see him enter an office down the hall and close the door. When you glance in the office you see a stack of tests that the secretary had just laid on the desk. Would you

a. quickly enter the room, pick up a copy of the test, and leave before you are seen?

b. stand outside the room door and wait for the teacher without glancing at the test?

8. Your instructor is teaching two classes in the same subject. By comparing observations with a friend in the other class, you believe the same questions are asked on

both tests. Would you

a. ask your friend to remember as many test questions as possible? b. not talk to your friend concerning the questions?

9. You are driving the highway at night. There are very few other motorists and no policemen around. Would you

a. exceed the speed limit? b. obey the speed limit?

10. One of your friends is an office worker in the college office. She is given a test copy for a difficult class you are taking. Knowing that you are having problems in the course, she takes a copy of the test home with her and offers it to you. Would you

a. take the stolen copy of the test? b. refuse the test?


Baron, R., & Byrne, D. (1997). Social Psychology (8th ed.). Massachusetts: Allyn and Bacon

Bohart, A., Feshbach, S., & Weiner, B. (1996). Personality (4th ed.). Massachusetts: D.C. Heath and Co.

Greene, A.S., & Saxe, L. (1992, April). Everybody (else) does it: academic cheating. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Boston, MA.

Pulvers, K., & Diekhoff, G. (1999). The relationship between academic dishonesty and college classroom environment. Research in Higher Education, 40, 487-498.

Roig, M., & Ballew, C. (1992, April). Attitudes toward cheating by college students and professors. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Boston, MA.

Smith J., Nolan R., & Dai, Y. (1998). Faculty Perception on Student Academic Honesty. College Student Journal, 32, 305-310. Retrieved December 4, 2001, from Wilsondisc for Windows database.

Author Note

Copies of statistics of faculty and student responses to the moral situations questionnaire are available upon request.

The moral situations questionnaire was adapted to fit the Philippine setting.

We thank the science and engineering undergraduate students and faculty members who participated in the study.

Portions of this research were accomplished as part of the first author's master's research course. Permission was granted to the first author to replicate the study.

Correspondence concerning the manuscript should be sent to Lorraine Pe Symaco at
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Author:Pe Symaco, Lorraine; Marcelo, Editha
Publication:College Student Journal
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Sep 1, 2003
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