College cheating in Portugal: results from a large scale survey
The phenomenon of cheating among academics is of overwhelming importance in that the students engaging in it are most unlikely to have the skills necessary for their future professional life. Despite its relevance, the empirical evaluation of college cheating has been almost exclusively focused on the US context. Little is known about college cheating at the European level let alone Portugal. Less even in investigated at the regional level. In this paper we present evidence on cheating perception by Portuguese undergraduate students of economics and business courses. We undertake a large scale survey, involving 2675 students from all Portuguese mainland public universities. We found that (1) the likelihood of copying is increased when the expected benefit in terms of grade is positive; (2) copying-favourable environments – the high frequency with which students observe the act of copying, familiarity with someone that copies regularly, and the students’ opinion regarding copying – are associated with higher cheating propensity; (3) the higher and more serious students perceive sanctions, fewer incentives they have to perpetrate dishonest behaviours – in universities where ‘codes of honour’ exist, the propensity for copying among students is lower; (4) the propensity for copying seems to be highly influenced by regions’ cultural systems and social related factors - students who reside on a permanent basis in southern, inland regions, especially in Alentejo-related areas, present a significantly higher propensity to academic fraud than students from other areas of Portugal.
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