Crime without punishment: An update review of the determinants of cheating among university students
The issue of cheating is a serious problem since it can call the efficiency of an education system into question. Furthermore, it is a devaluing factor in the country's stock of human capital. A student who copies is a free-rider, in the sense that he/she gains a higher grade than that merited by the actual amount of effort expended on study. In addition, it makes it impossible for teachers to fully achieve the goal of effective dissemination to, and acquisition of knowledge by, students. This paper conceptually and methodologically systematizes the phenomenon of academic fraud. Distinct forms of theorizing illegal behaviours are examined, adapting Becker’s crime model (1968) to cheating. A systematic review of the literature has allowed certain direct determinants of the probability of “copying”, not yet investigated, to be identified, viz: 1) the ‘advantages’, in terms of a higher grade, that students see themselves as gaining from fraudulent behaviour in comparison with not indulging in it; 2) the breakdown of students’ grades by nature of discipline - “reasoning” versus “cramming”; and 3) the existence or otherwise of a code of honour in universities. As a result, this paper proposes a new, ‘expanded’, econometric specification for estimating cheating (i.e., the probability of “copying”) based on an analysis of the expected cost-benefit, according to Becker’s model.
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