Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Date of Defense

5-14-2010

Graduate Advisor

Kent A. Farnsworth, PhD

Committee

Boyer, Patricia

Haywood, Kathleen

Kohn, Dixie

Woodhouse, Shawn

Abstract

Academic dishonesty has long been considered a critical issue that threatens to undermine the very integrity of the educational process. This issue has taken on increased importance in an era in which higher education that has been characterized by calls for increased institutional accountability. While past studies have shed light on the issue of academic dishonesty, there are still a number of critical variables pertaining to student cheating that have yet to be examined. This exploratory study examined whether religious orientation influences three variables related to academic dishonesty; student perceptions of the prevalence of academic dishonesty, general student attitudes toward academic dishonesty, or student involvement in acts of academic dishonesty. The investigation proposed that religious orientation would have a significant influence on all three of these variables. The study involved 417 undergraduate college students attending a large public university during the summer 2009. Participants were asked to submit an anonymous online survey which consisted of four preexisting scales that measured religious orientation, perceptions regarding the prevalence of academic dishonesty, perceived opportunity to cheat, and general attitudes toward academic dishonesty. Variables pertaining to religious orientation were defined by the work of Allport (1950) and grouped religious orientation as being intrinsic, extrinsic, indiscriminately anti-religious, and indiscriminately pro-religious. These independent variables were tested against the dependent variables using multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests. Results of the study indicated statistically significant differences between the religious orientations and general attitudes toward academic dishonesty and rates of involvement in academic dishonesty. However, the study also indicated that there were no significant differences between the religious orientation groups and perceptions regarding the prevalence of academic dishonesty. Collectively, the results supported the contention that religious orientation can influence some aspects of academic dishonesty and that religion can act as a conforming social institution in this respect. The study also indicates that general religious orientation was far from being a controlling or defining factor in academic dishonesty and that many interacting factors contribute to students decisions to cheat.

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