ACADEMIC HONESTY AND THE ONLINE STUDENT
ASHLEY R. DOUET
LIBERTY UNIVERSITY ONLINE
Academic Honesty and the Online Student
Academic misconduct and dishonesty is prevalent in institutions of higher learning, especially with online students (Staats, Happ & Hagley, 2008). The lack of academic honesty affects the integrity of the institutions, of degree programs, and the character of current and future students (Staats, Happ & Hagley, 2008). Studies have shown that a student who strives to be academically honest completes work that is morally and ethically sound. They ensure that all of their work is their own or that they have given credit to the original source (Academic Ethics, 2014). Academically honest students exhibit characteristics such as empathy, courage, and honesty more often than do less honest students. The high prevalence of these characteristics is a good predictor of a lower occurrence of academic dishonesty (Staats, Happ & Hagley, 2008). “Honesty and Heroes: A Positive Psychology View of Heroism and Academic Honest,” a study published in the Journal of Psychology in 2008, was performed to show how heroism is related to academic honesty in online students. The study showed that fifty percent of students involved in the study admitted to lacking academic honesty in their schoolwork (Staats, Happ & Hagley, 2008). The first experiment involved 200 students from the Mid-west with an average age of 22.3 years. Three measures were used to test potential academic honesty, including courage, honesty, and empathy. Results showed that these measures were inter-correlated and lead to the potential for cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty (Staats, Happ & Hagley, 2008). The second experiment involved 69 undergraduates from the same Mid-western institution with an average age of 20.03 years. Results showed that most students reported cheating on exams or lying in their own interest (Staats, Happ & Hagley, 2008). The authors found that those students who decided not to cheat had a high degree of academic virtue which they defined as heroism (Staats, Happ & Hagley, 2008). Prior to reading this article, I hadn’t put together that empathy, courage, and honesty are some of the characteristics found in an academically honest student. I was surprised about the amount of people who admit to academic dishonesty. Scriptures tell us in Proverbs 12:22 that “lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.” In order to please the Lord a student needs to work with integrity throughout their degree program and ensure that all of their work is theirs or is supported by those to whom the work is originally credited. I will apply the characteristics of heroism such as courage, empathy, and honesty in all of my coursework. I will ensure that all of the work that I submit will be my own and if I borrow any ideas from others, I will credit them for the work. The amount of academic dishonesty involved with college students is astounding, and needs to be corrected using the Christian worldview which states that we should live and work with integrity. In Proverbs 10:9, Jesus tells us that “whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” The more concern students have for others, and the more noble-minded students and more morally sound they are, the less likely they are to cheat. By encouraging those virtues in the student body, the university will garner a higher degree of respect for the institution and degree programs that they offer. In conclusion, as we hear in Hebrews 13:18, “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.”
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