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J Acad Ethics (2014) 12:29–41

DOI 10.1007/s10805-013-9198-3

Ethical Beliefs Toward Academic Dishonesty: A


Cross-Cultural Comparison of Undergraduate Students
in Ukraine and the United States

Mariya A. Yukhymenko-Lescroart

Published online: 14 November 2013


# Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Abstract Little work has been done on beliefs toward academic misconduct in Ukraine. This
study explored the beliefs of Ukrainian students toward various forms of academic misconduct
and compared the results to the U.S. undergraduate students (N=270). Twenty-two forms of
cheating, plagiarism, and questionable academic behaviors were grouped in five categories:
unilateral cheating, collective cheating, falsification gaining favoritism, and performing extra
work to receive better grades. Cross-cultural comparisons of beliefs were pivotal in this study.
Results indicated that, in general, Ukrainian students are less likely to believe that academic
misconduct is wrong compared to their U.S. counterparts, as well as seem to have different
beliefs on what is and isn’t academic misconduct. Recommendations are proposed to help
students change their beliefs and to reduce academic dishonesty. These recommendations also
have application purposes outside of Ukraine.

Keywords Academic misconduct . Beliefs . Cheating . Cross-cultural study . Plagiarism

Introduction

International education provides educational, cultural, and professional opportunities for a


number of students worldwide. According to the Project Atlas and the Open Doors reports of
the Institute of International Education (2012a, b), over 4.1 million students studied abroad
worldwide in 2010, a 10.8 % increase over the previous year. The U.S. has been the major host
destination of globally mobile students for the past decade, hosting 19 % of all worldwide
international students in the 2011–2012 academic year. During the previous academic year, the
total number of international student enrollment in the U.S. increased 6 % to a record high of
764,495 students, of which new international students comprised 30 %. For the first time since

M. A. Yukhymenko-Lescroart
Department of Educational Psychology, University of Connecticut, 249 Glenbrook Rd., Storrs,
CT 06269, USA

Present Address:
M. A. Yukhymenko-Lescroart (*)
Learning Sciences Research Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1240 W. Harrison St., Chicago, IL
60607, USA
e-mail: yukhym@uic.edu
30 M.A. Yukhymenko-Lescroart

the 2000–2001 academic year, international undergraduate students outnumbered international


graduate students in 2011–2012. Likewise, the number of U.S. students studying abroad has
reached almost 274,000 students and has more than tripled over the past two decades.
While international education is crucial to strengthening economics and societies both in
the United States and around the world, the academic integrity of students is vital to the
continued growth of the international academic exchange. However, research has shown that
academic misconduct is widespread among undergraduate students around the globe (see
Crown and Spiller 1998; Ercegovac and Richardson 2004; Whitley 1998 for reviews). For
example, a review by Whitley (1998) of 107 studies on the prevalence of cheating among U.S.
and Canadian college students revealed a mean of 70.4 % students admitting to academic
dishonesty. The rates of academic dishonesty are even higher among students outside North
America (see McCabe et al. 2008 for a review). Identifying the differences in beliefs between
cultures on the different forms of academic dishonesty is important for preserving academic
integrity among international students.
Academic behaviors that are viewed as dishonest in one cultural context may be appropriate
in another. Understanding how students think about, and their attitudes toward, academic
dishonesty could help to reduce the incidence of academic dishonesty. Cross-cultural compar-
isons of beliefs toward various forms of academic dishonesty may reveal important similarities
and differences that have serious implications for educators and administrators in today’s
globalized world.
Compared to research on academic misconduct in other countries, previous research among
Ukrainian college students has been limited: only two such studies were found that examined
and compared academic cheating behaviors and beliefs of students in Ukraine and the U.S.
(Grimes 2004; Stephens et al. 2010). Grimes (2004), examined students’ perceptions and
attitudes toward dishonesty in academic and business contexts in U.S. and eight countries of
Eastern Europe and former Soviet Republics in Central Asia. The results showed immense
differences of students’ reported observations, self-reported incidences, and perceptions of
academic dishonesty across U.S. and Ukrainian students. While the vast majority of students in
both cultures reported that they observed academic cheating at least once during their college
experience (83.7 % of U.S. students and 93.7 % of Ukrainian students), there were striking
differences in the prevalence of observed cheating. Roughly three in 20 U.S. students reported
that they observed cheating more than ten times (15.4 %), compared to 17 in 20 Ukrainian
students (85.5 %). With regards to self-reported cheating, more Ukrainian students indicated
that they have cheated (89.6 %), were asked to cheat (92.1 %), and would assist cheating
(81.2 %) than U.S. students (50.2 %, 60.7 %, and 32.5 %, respectively). These numbers
indicate that cheating is a much more common activity in Ukrainian college classrooms, but is
somewhat less pronounced in the U.S. sample. Finally, a striking difference across the two
nations appeared in the student responses to questions concerning whether academic cheating
is ethical. While the majority of U.S. students (85.4 %) believed that cheating was ethically
wrong, only 3.5 % of Ukrainian students agreed.
Stephens et al. (2010) obtained similar results in a comparative study of U.S. and Ukrainian
undergraduates. The authors focused on students’ self-reported beliefs and behaviors related to
six “academic behaviors,” which were grouped in three categories, particularly, homework
cheating (copying from another student and unpermitted collaboration), plagiarism (conven-
tional and digital), and test cheating (copying from another student and using unpermitted
notes). Stephens et al. reported slightly higher numbers of students than Grimes (2004).
Specifically, the majority of U.S. (65.6 %) and almost all Ukrainian undergraduate students
(97.4 %) admitted to engaging in one or more behaviors of academic misconduct at least once
during the previous year. With regards to engaging in specific behaviors, percentages ranged
Ethical Beliefs Toward Academic Dishonesty: A Cross-Cultural Comparison 31

from 11.1 % (using unpermitted notes during a test) to 50.3 % (unpermitted collaboration
during homework) for the U.S. subsample and from 57.4 % (conventional plagiarism: from a
printed book or journal) to 83.0 % (unpermitted collaboration) for the Ukrainian subsample.
Students differed on their beliefs as well. Overall, almost all U.S. students (98.4 % overall,
range 32.1 % to 92.6 %) reported that they believed these behaviors were wrong, with the most
wrong behaviors being test cheating (copying from another student, using unpermitted notes),
followed by plagiarism (conventional, digital) and homework cheating (copying from another
student, using unpermitted collaboration). However, fewer Ukrainian students (67.7 % overall,
range 20.1 % to 48.8 %) reported that they believed these behaviors were wrong. Ukrainian
students reported that copying from another student (whether it is during a test or for
homework) is the most wrong, followed by using unpermitted notes during a test, plagiarism
(conventional, digital), and unpermitted collaboration during homework.
In a related cross-cultural research, several studies were found that explored students’
beliefs toward academic dishonesty comparing U.S. students with Eastern European students
(Grimes 2004; Lupton et al. 2000; Lupton and Chapman 2002; Magnus et al. 2002). Lupton
and colleagues compared U.S. students to Polish (Lupton et al. 2000) and Russian students
(Lupton and Chapman 2002). In both studies, students from Eastern European countries were
more likely than U.S. students to believe that most students cheat on exams and out of class
assignments, that cheating on one exam is not so bad, and that it is OK to tell someone in a
later section about an exam just completed. A study by Grimes (2004) indicated that compared
to students in the U.S., students in Albania, Belarus, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia
were less likely to indicate that academic dishonesty is ethically wrong. Magnus et al. (2002)
investigated students’ attitudes about a cheating situation among students in the U.S., Russia
(separating students from Moscow, the capital, and provincial Russia), Israel, and the
Netherland. Compared to the U.S. counterparts, undergraduate students from Moscow and
provincial Russia reported less negative attitude toward a student who copied answers from
another student during an exam and more negative attitude toward a student who reported this
incident to department office. Additionally, U.S. undergraduates had negative attitude toward
the other student who consented another student to copy answers from oneself during an exam,
whereas Russian undergraduates from both Moscow and provinces had positive attitude
toward the student. Additionally, Magnus et al. found that the attitude of U.S. students toward
cheating depend on the level of education (high school, undergraduate, postgraduate) with
inverse relationship. However, this was not the case for Russian students: they had the same
tolerance disregarding the level of education. Finally, Payan et al. (2010) explored students’
perception of cheating without the cooperation of others (unilateral cheating), freeriding
(collaborative cheating), and requesting for an extension with false information (delaying) in
13 countries, including Croatia, Russia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and the U.S. Except for students
from Lithuania, standardized factor scores for unilateral, collaborative and delaying behaviors
were lower for Eastern European students than their U.S. counterparts.

The Present Study

Previous research has suggested that holding positive attitudes toward academic cheating is
one of the strongest correlates of cheating (e.g., Franklyn-Stokes and Newstead 1995; Grimes
2004; Lim and See 2001; Whitley 1998). In line with this research, studies by Grimes (2004)
and Stephens et al. (2010) showed that fewer Ukrainian students believed that academic
cheating is wrong and reported engaging in behaviors of academic dishonesty more frequently
when compared to U.S. counterparts. While Grimes asked students to indicate their general
belief toward broad academic cheating, Stephens et al. explored cross-cultural differences
32 M.A. Yukhymenko-Lescroart

based on the six behaviors and found that students’ beliefs differed not only quantitatively, but
also qualitatively: students reported different behaviors as the most wrong behaviors. Related
cross-cultural studies investigating attitudes of U.S. and Eastern European students toward
cheating also showed that there are differences in students’ perception of cheating across
cultures. Thus, there is a need to further investigate the beliefs of students in the two cultures
by focusing on a wider range of academic behaviors.
The purpose of this study was to explore the potentially different sets of norms related to
beliefs toward academic dishonest behaviors amongst undergraduate students from the U.S.
and Ukraine. Specifically, this study aimed at addressing two questions: What behaviors
related to academic dishonesty do the majority of U.S. and Ukrainian undergraduate students
believe to be wrong? Furthermore, are there differences between U.S. and Ukrainian under-
graduate students in terms of their beliefs toward academic dishonesty? Based on the research
outlined above, it was hypothesized that U.S. students will be more likely to indicate that
various forms of academic dishonesty are wrong than their Ukrainian counterparts.
Furthermore, these differences will be statistically significant.

Study Design

Questionnaire

A survey instrument was used to collect a variety of data from each student sampled. The first
part consisted of 22 statements asking about students’ personal beliefs related to dishonest
academic behaviors. Students ranked each statement with respect to their perception of
wrongness associated with each statement on a five-point Likert scale, with one presented as
“strongly believe that it is wrong” and five presented as “strongly believe that it is not wrong.”
The statements were adopted from Rawwas et al. (2007), comprising only one part of the subset
of items to the total survey used by the authors. The original instrument was used before with
undergraduate students in and outside the U.S., particularly China and Hong Kong (Rawwas
et al. 2004, 2007). The second part collected basic demographic information that consisted of
gender, academic year, and typical grades. For the Ukrainian subsample, the survey instrument
was translated into and administered in Ukrainian, the native language of the students.
In both cultures, students completed the survey in a paper-based format during a class
period. Given the nature of the survey questions, students were guaranteed that their responses
are anonymous and voluntary. After reading the consent agreement in front of the whole class
in the native language of students, each student received a copy of an information sheet with
details about the study and the survey questions. Once students completed the surveys, they
personally put the surveys in the envelope. Only the researcher oversaw the administration and
collection of the surveys. Instructors of the classes were not present during the data collection,
and the results of the survey were not shared with them.

The Sample

In both countries, all students completed and returned the survey. Five invalid surveys were
eliminated due to incompleteness, and the effective sample for the study included 270
undergraduate students from the U.S. and Ukraine. Out of this sample, 174 students were
from northeastern Ukraine and 96 students were from the northeastern U.S. A brief demo-
graphic profile of the students is presented in Table 1. Gender distribution in the two
subsamples was matching. Participants from Ukraine were, on average, 1 year younger with
Ethical Beliefs Toward Academic Dishonesty: A Cross-Cultural Comparison 33

Table 1 Profile of students by culture

Demographic characteristic United States Ukraine


(n=96) (n=174)

Age M (SD) 20.20 (1.39) 19.13 (1.25)


Range 18–29 16–22
Gender Percent male 17.71 % 17.34 %
School year Freshman (1st) 6.25 % 26.44 %
Sophomore (2nd) 17.71 % 6.90 %
Junior (3rd) 55.21 % 29.89 %
Senior (4th) 20.83 % 36.78 %
Typical grades Mostly As 28.13 % 9.41 %
Mostly As and Bs 51.04 % 42.94 %
Mostly Bs 15.63 % 14.12 %
Mostly Bs and Cs 5.21 % 31.76 %
Mostly Cs and below 0.00 % 1.76 %

For Ukrainian sample, typical grades were: A=5 “excellent;” B=4 “good;” C=3 “satisfactory;” and D=2
“unsatisfactory”

the age range narrower than the U.S. subsample. This is primarily an artifact of the different
educational systems. In Ukraine, this cohort of students attended primary school for 10 years,
being 16 to18 years old upon graduation. Typically, Ukrainian students enter postsecondary
education immediately after graduation from high school, encountering a 1-year delay on rare
occasions. At the time of the survey administration, the university in Ukraine used a traditional
5-point scale: 5 (excellent), 4 (good), 3 (satisfactory), and 2 (unsatisfactory). The grades 3
through 5 can be described as “passed,” and the grade 2 as “failed.” In this study, A was
equivalent to 5, B– to 4, and C– to 3 for the convenience of comparing the subsamples.

Results

Preliminary Analysis

Items were grouped in five categories and included (a) unilateral cheating behaviors (e.g., using
answers of other students without their knowledge, using unpermitted notes during a test), (b)
collaborative cheating (e.g., comparing homework assignment with classmates, receiving or
communicating information about a test), (c) fabrication of information (e.g., using a faked
illness as an excuse, having someone else to take a test for you), (d) gaining favoritism without
doing academic work (e.g., brown-nosing the instructor, receiving a higher grade through
familial or personal connections); and (e) receiving or improving one’s grade by doing
additional work (e.g., attending commercial courses, visiting a professor’s office frequently).
A preliminary analysis on items by country indicated that missing data ranged from 0 % to
3.1 % for the U.S. subsample, and from 0 % to 2.3 % for Ukrainian subsample. Next, items
were examined with regards to the standardized values for skewness <|3.0| and kurtosis <|8.0|.
In the U.S. subsample, 14 items were positively skewed (standardized values of skewness
ranged from 2.20 to 27.45) and 3 items were negatively skewed (ranging from −31.07 to
−11.00), and 10 items were platykurtic (ranging from 9.4 to 126.57). In the Ukrainian
subsample, 7 items were positively skewed (ranging from 2.35 to 6.11), 10 items were
34 M.A. Yukhymenko-Lescroart

negatively skewed (ranging from −6.40 to −2.72), and no items were kurtotic. The dissimilar
number of skewed and kurtotic items across two cultures showed preliminary differences in
students’ beliefs toward the range of academic dishonest behaviors.

Mean Differences

Table 2 presents means and standard deviations by culture, as well as mean differences for
students’ beliefs related to various forms of academic misconduct. Low scores correspond to
students’ beliefs that the behavior is not wrong; whereas, high scores correspond to the beliefs
that the behavior is wrong. The results are organized based on the absolute values of mean
differences within each category. As described in Table 2, there were statistically significant
differences between U.S. and Ukrainian undergraduate students on almost all forms of
academic dishonesty. Compared to their Ukrainian counterparts, the U.S. students reported
stronger beliefs about the wrongness of cheating on 15 behaviors and lesser beliefs on three
behaviors. As indicated by the Cohen’s d values, the majority of the effects were large.

Within Country Variation

Because Ukrainian students were more likely to have neutral or close to neutral beliefs to the
various forms of academic dishonesty than U.S. students (means ranged from 1.06 to 4.92 for
U.S. students and from 1.97 to 3.98 for Ukrainian students), exploring within-country variation
in students’ beliefs to the listed behaviors provided further insights. In general, U.S. students
reported 17 of 22 behaviors as wrong (M>3.0), including most of unilateral and collaborative
cheating items, all items of falsification and gaining favoritism. Ukrainian students reported
only nine such behaviors, which included one unilateral, one collaborative, most of falsifica-
tion, and all favoritism items.
Among the list of 22 items, U.S. and Ukrainian students reported different behaviors as the
most and least wrong. On average, U.S. students believe that paying money to someone else to
do work for you, such as “Turning in a term paper that you purchased or borrowed from
someone else” and “Hiring someone or having a friend to take a test for you in a very large
class” (M=4.92, SD=0.58 and M=4.85, SD=0.67, respectively) is the most wrong. The three
behaviors for which U.S. students reported the least wrong were “Visiting a professor’s office
frequently seeking help in a course” (M=1.06, SD=0.46), “Attending commercial test prepa-
ratory courses such as those offered by Kaplan” (M=1.15, SD=0.60) and “Comparing work
on assignments with classmates before submitting the work to the instructor” (M=1.36, SD=
0.97). Ukrainian students reported that “Brown-nosing your professors” and “Receiving a
higher grade through the influence of a family or personal connection” are the most wrong
(M=3.98, SD=1.66 and M=3.92, SD=1.66, respectively). Finally, “Receiving information
about an exam from someone in an earlier section of the course who has already taken the
test” (M=1.97, SD=1.55) and “Asking a friend to cover for you (e.g., sign you as in
attendance) when you are absent” (M=1.98, SD=1.61) were reported by Ukrainian students
to be the least wrong.

Frequencies by Country

While mean values and derivatives are very useful in statistical analyses, they do not always
display the magnitude of a given phenomenon. Therefore, percentage values of this phenom-
enon were computed to clearly describe students’ beliefs related to various forms of academic
dishonesty. As indicated in Table 3, there are large differences across the beliefs between U.S.
Table 2 Beliefs toward various forms of academic dishonesty: summary statistics by culture

Items US Ukraine ΔM F (1, 267) Cohen’s d


(n=96) (n=174)

M SD M SD

Unilateral cheating
1 Having access to old exams in a particular course that other students do not have access to. 3.13 1.6 3.09 1.79 0.03 0.02 0.02
2 Overhearing answers to exam questions when your neighbor whispers to another student. 2.74 1.64 2.36 1.75 0.38 3.01 0.22
3 Taking advantage of answers you inadvertently saw on another student exam. 3.6 1.57 2.42 1.79 1.17 28.48** 0.7
4 Peeping at your neighbor’s exam during the test. 4.38 1.1 2.94 1.87 1.44 47.07** 0.94
5 Using “formulas” programmed into your pocket calculator during an exam. 3.97 1.52 2.38 1.69 1.59 57.37** 0.99
6 Using unauthorized “crib notes” during an exam. 4.66 0.81 2.46 1.71 2.2 140.62** 1.65
Collaborative cheating
7 Comparing work on assignments with classmates before submitting the work to the instructor. 1.36 0.97 2.09 1.59 −0.73 16.21** −0.55
8 Contributing little to group work and projects, and still receive the same credit and grade as the 4.81 0.59 3.76 1.69 1.05 34.62** 0.83
other members.
9 Receiving information about an exam from someone in an earlier section of the course who has 3.17 1.7 1.97 1.55 1.2 33.75** 0.74
already taken the test.
10 Asking a friend to cover for you (e.g., sign you as in attendance) when you are absent. 3.36 1.63 1.98 1.61 1.38 44.88** 0.86
Ethical Beliefs Toward Academic Dishonesty: A Cross-Cultural Comparison

11 Communicating answers (e.g., whisper, give sign language) to a friend during a test. 4.43 1.08 2.87 1.83 1.56 58.01** 1.04
Falsification
12 Using a faked illness as an excuse for missing an exam. 4.43 1.08 3.45 1.85 0.98 22.59** 0.65
13 “Hacking” your way into the university’s computer system to change your grade; or Changing 4.81 0.72 3.51 1.8 1.3 45.79** 0.95
records in classroom journal using a special pen or a corrector to change your grade.
14 Hiring someone or having a friend to take a test for you in a very large class. 4.85 0.67 3.49 1.74 1.36 53.73** 1.03
15 Turning in a term paper that you purchased or borrowed from someone else. 4.92 0.58 2.83 1.78 2.09 122.90** 1.57
Favoritism
16 Receiving extra credit because the instructor likes you. 3.56 1.6 3.43 1.79 0.13 0.35 0.08
17 Brown-nosing your professors. 3.72 1.58 3.98 1.66 −0.26 1.47 −0.16
35
36

Table 2 (continued)

Items US Ukraine ΔM F (1, 267) Cohen’s d


(n=96) (n=174)

M SD M SD

18 Receiving a higher grade through the influence of a family or personal connection. 4.71 0.87 3.92 1.66 0.79 18.46** 0.59
19 Receiving favoritism as a result of being a student athlete or member of a campus organization. 4.66 0.86 3.29 1.77 1.38 50.84** 0.99
Extra work
20 Being allowed to perform extra work, which is not assigned to all class members, to improve 2.9 1.63 2.19 1.68 0.71 11.16* 0.43
your grade.
21 Attending commercial test preparatory courses such as those offered by Kaplan. 1.15 0.6 2.33 1.59 −1.18 48.05** −0.98
22 Visiting a professor’s office frequently seeking help in a course. 1.06 0.46 2.5 1.71 −1.44 63.68** −1.15

Response scale ranged from 1=“strongly believe that it is wrong” to 5=“strongly believe that it is not wrong;” d values between 0.2 and 0.5 constitute a small effect, 0.5 to 0.8 a
medium effect, and 0.8 or greater a large effect
*p<.01; **p<.001
M.A. Yukhymenko-Lescroart
Ethical Beliefs Toward Academic Dishonesty: A Cross-Cultural Comparison 37

Table 3 Percentages by country for beliefs about wrongness of various forms of academic dishonesty

US Ukraine

Unilateral cheating
1 Having access to old exams in a particular course that other students do not have 35.10 % 42.40 %
access to.
2 Overhearing answers to exam questions when your neighbor whispers to another 27.70 % 27.20 %
student.
3 Taking advantage of answers you inadvertently saw on another student exam. 50.00 % 29.50 %
4 Peeping at your neighbor’s exam during the test. 73.40 % 42.00 %
5 Using “formulas” programmed into your pocket calculator during an exam. 64.50 % 24.90 %
6 Using unauthorized “crib notes” during an exam. 84.20 % 26.40 %
Collaborative cheating
7 Comparing work on assignments with classmates before submitting the work to 4.30 % 19.10 %
the instructor.
8 Contributing little to group work and projects, and still receive the same credit 90.50 % 61.50 %
and grade as the other members.
9 Receiving information about an exam from someone in an earlier section of the 40.40 % 17.50 %
course who has already taken the test.
10 Asking a friend to cover for you (e.g., sign you as in attendance) when you are absent. 43.60 % 19.50 %
11 Communicating answers (e.g., whisper, give sign language) to a friend during a test. 75.80 % 38.50 %
Falsification
12 Using a faked illness as an excuse for missing an exam. 75.80 % 56.30 %
13 “Hacking” your way into the university’s computer system to change your grade; or 92.60 % 56.10 %
Changing records in classroom journal using a special pen or a corrector to change
your grade.
14 Hiring someone or having a friend to take a test for you in a very large class. 94.70 % 52.90 %
15 Turning in a term paper that you purchased or borrowed from someone else. 97.90 % 35.60 %
Favoritism
16 Receiving extra credit because the instructor likes you. 49.50 % 52.60 %
17 Brown-nosing your professors. 55.30 % 70.70 %
18 Receiving a higher grade through the influence of a family or personal connection. 88.40 % 67.40 %
19 Receiving favoritism as a result of being a student athlete or member of a campus 85.30 % 47.10 %
organization.
Extra work
20 Being allowed to perform extra work, which is not assigned to all class members, 30.20 % 22.90 %
to improve your grade.
21 Attending commercial test preparatory courses such as those offered by Kaplan. 1.10 % 20.20 %
22 Visiting a professor’s office frequently seeking help in a course. 1.10 % 27.20 %

Percentage values include students of “believe that it is wrong” and “strongly believe that it is wrong” response
categories

and Ukrainian undergraduate students in the percentages of students who “believe” or


“strongly believe” that the behavior is wrong.
The majority (over 50 %) of U.S. students believed that 12 of 22 listed behaviors of
academic dishonesty were wrong, while Ukrainian students reported only seven behaviors as
wrong (see bold percentages in Table 3). In summary, more than half of U.S. and Ukrainian
students believed that six behaviors related to falsification as well as doing little or no work
were wrong. U.S. students were more likely to mark these items as wrong than Ukrainian
38 M.A. Yukhymenko-Lescroart

students, except for the “Brown-nosing your professor” item. Furthermore, seven more
behaviors were believed to be wrong by either U.S. or Ukrainian students. The majority of
U.S. students marked six of them as wrong. Most of these behaviors described various forms
of test cheating and included unilateral and collaborative cheating, as well as plagiarism. The
only item that referred to something other than actual dishonest behavior was “Receiving
favoritism as a result of being a student athlete or member of a campus organization.” The
majority of Ukrainian students (52.6 %) marked “Receiving extra credit because the instructor
likes you” as wrong, which also refers to favoritism. The largest discrepancy in percentage was
observed for “Using unauthorized ‘crib notes’ during an exam”: comparing 84.2 % of U.S.
students to 26.4 % of Ukrainian students.

Discussion

Summary of Findings

The present study investigated and compared beliefs toward a range of dishonest and ques-
tionable academic behaviors of undergraduate students from the U.S. and Ukraine. This is the
first study to compare the beliefs toward various forms of academic dishonesty of U.S. and
Ukrainian undergraduate students, which showed several important findings. As expected, the
noticeable differences in students’ beliefs were observed for almost all listed cheating behav-
iors. Overall, U.S. students are more likely to believe that various forms of academic
dishonesty are wrong compared to their Ukrainian counterparts. This finding was generally
consistent with the previous research (e.g., Grimes 2004; Lupton and Chapman 2002;
Stephens et al. 2010). However, this study provided further insights related to students’ beliefs
toward academic dishonesty.
First and foremost, students from both cultures found some behaviors related to academic
conduct to be wrong, while other behaviors not wrong as indicated by the percentages. The
majority of the U.S. and Ukrainian students believed that behaviors related to falsifying
information, freeriding, and exploiting other people to get a better grade is wrong, particularly,
altering university records, pretending to be sick, using familial connections and influences,
not contributing to a group work, and arranging someone else to take a test for oneself.
Likewise, a number of academic behaviors were not reported to be wrong by students in both
cultures. These behaviors included taking opportunities related to unilateral cheating (e.g.,
taking advantages of inadvertently seen or heard answers, receiving information from students
who have taken the exam before), performing extra work that is not being done by other
students, as well as some collaborating with friends and classmates (e.g., asking a friend to
sign oneself as in attendance, comparing homework assignments with classmates). If presented
with an opportunity to cheat, students from both cultures will not disdain to use it, possibly
showing a lack of self-regulation.
Second, while U.S. and Ukrainian students marked the same behaviors as wrong or not
wrong, U.S. students tend to have more extreme beliefs about various forms of academic
dishonesty and they are more homogeneous in their beliefs, while in general Ukrainian
students were more neutral on the matter. This finding is consistent with earlier research
comparing students from the U.S. and Russia (Lupton and Chapman 2002).
Third, Ukrainian students seem to have different beliefs on what is and what is not cheating.
The majority of Ukrainian students do not think that unilateral and collaborative cheating for
or during a test is wrong. For example, they believe that it is okay to communicate answers to a
friend, peep at someone else’s answers, use unauthorized notes and programmed in a calculator
Ethical Beliefs Toward Academic Dishonesty: A Cross-Cultural Comparison 39

formulas. Ukrainian student also believe that it is not wrong to turn in a purchased from
someone else term paper. While Ukrainian students in this sample reported lower beliefs
toward behaviors related to both test cheating and cheating on written work, the largest
discrepancy in students’ beliefs across the two cultures was found with regards to using
unauthorized notes during an exam with approximately every three in four Ukrainian students
being either indifferent to the issue or indicating that it is not wrong. Further, the noticeable
different beliefs across students from the two cultures were observed with regards to the
specific academic behaviors that were indicated as the most and the least wrong. U.S. students
believed that having someone else to do work for you was the most dishonest behavior,
whereas Ukrainian students believed that sycophantic behaviors toward an instructor with the
goal to receive a higher grade is the most wrong. Almost all U.S. students believed that
comparing homework with classmates before submission and doing extra work to get a higher
grade were not wrong disregarding whether it is permitted or not, particularly seeking help in a
course by frequently visiting a professor’s office and paying for commercial courses. Whereas,
Ukrainian students were more likely to report that collaborating and taking advantages of the
ties of friendship with fellow students were not wrong. As suggested by Magnus et al. (2002),
students in collectivist cultures are tolerant toward cheating because helping other students to
cheat during exams is accepted and possibly encouraged. While not conclusive, Ukrainian
undergraduate students may still be influenced by the post-communism collectivist society
norms and values in which they were born and raised.
Finally, while the majority of U.S. students found more behaviors to be wrong than their
Ukrainian counterparts, they still failed to find a number of the presented behaviors to be
wrong. For example, U.S. students reported more positive attitude toward comparing home-
work with classmates before submitting it to the instructor, which surprisingly was scored very
low by students in both cultures, U.S. students more than Ukrainian students.

Educational Recommendations

Several important conclusions can be drawn from the results of cross-cultural comparison of
U.S. and Ukrainian undergraduate students’ beliefs about academic cheating. This study
suggested large cultural differences in beliefs related to academic cheating. While universities
in both cultures need to boost efforts in informing and educating students with regards to what
specific behaviors are considered cheating, the need seems especially great in Ukraine.
Students who believe and are aware that a behavior is wrong will probably cheat less
(Franklyn-Stokes and Newstead 1995; Grimes 2004; Lim and See 2001; Stephens et al.
2010; Whitley 1998). Helping students to recognize and understand test cheating and plagia-
rism as unfair and unjustifiable is a critical step on the path to changing students’ beliefs and
reducing academic dishonesty. Small curricular interventions, such as implementing a paper-
based or online tutorial about cheating and plagiarism (see Dee and Jacob 2012 for an example
of an online intervention), can have large effects on students’ beliefs and should be relatively
easy to implement. Likewise, encouraging faculty members to propagandize academic integ-
rity policies to all students is as important. If faculty and administrative staff do not reinforce
these policies through various channels, students are more likely to assume that the institution
does not value academic integrity (McCabe et al. 2001). Universities should not assume that
students are aware of academic integrity policies, and should inform and alert students when
they start their undergraduate classes. Finally, instructors should actively address cheating
incidences that occur in their classrooms. Because university instructors are the adults with
whom students ultimately spend much time during their undergraduate years, they may be a
role model to students. Therefore, faculty staff they should convey negative attitudes toward
40 M.A. Yukhymenko-Lescroart

cheating to students. Faculty staff, who educate their students about academic integrity and
devote resources to dealing with and reporting cheating incidences, can have a significant
impact on students’ cheating (Ma et al. 2013). Knowing what behaviors students find as not
wrong can help faculty to make relevant changes to their instructions. For example, if we know
that students do not believe that collaboration on homework assignments is wrong, faculty
need to acknowledge that students will probably be collaborating, and adjust students’ tasks
appropriately.

Limitations and Future Research

This study has several limitations. As with any research using survey methodology, one
limitation of this study is the use of students’ self-reported answers. Although beliefs do not
directly reveal whether and how often students engage in cheating, plagiarism, and question-
able behaviors, there is still a concern of the veracity of findings in this study since the survey
items asked students about their attitudes toward deviant and socially sanctioned behaviors.
This especially is relevant to the U.S. subsample. While Ukrainian students might feel less
concerned with the consequences, U.S. students might feel more concerned with the detection
of their true beliefs and therefore might provide answers that are socially desirable.
Another limitation to this study concerns selection of the participants. The survey was short,
anonymous, administered on paper during a class session, and not overseen by the instructors
of the courses during data collection, which resulted in the response rate being near 100 %.
However, the sample may be not representative compared to the population of college students
in each country because this study used a convenience sample, covered only one institution in
each country, and the majority of participants were females. As suggested in a study by
Magnus et al. (2002), who split students from Moscow and provincial Russia, there might be
differences among students from Kyiv, the capital, and students from provincial Ukraine who
were used in the present study. Furthermore, there might be differences with regards to cultural
aspects among students from the eastern and western parts of Ukraine, which were historically
influenced by different ideologies of bordering countries, Russia and Poland. Due to relatively
recent changes in geographical boundaries and its material culture, as well as changes in
conceptualization of culture from collectivism to individualism, any changes in the mentality
and beliefs of students might not have fully transformed and manifested yet.
Finally, this study explored beliefs of students located in their native country. Therefore, the
present study does not provide any insights on whether beliefs of Ukrainian students who
study abroad in the U.S. (or conversely, U.S. students who study abroad in Eastern European
countries) have the same beliefs. Some researchers (e.g., Magnus et al. 2002) have suggested
that international students probably do not cheat as often while studying in the U.S., where
they perceive the educational system as less tolerant of cheating and more student-oriented.
Future research should examine whether there are significant differences in students’ beliefs
toward various forms of questionable academic conduct across gender and location, specifi-
cally whether there are differences based on urban or rural settings as well as different regions.
It would also be worthwhile to examine beliefs of international students studying in the U.S.
Furthermore, future research should examine the effects of beliefs and other attitudinal and
ethical variables on cheating behavior. After controlling for demographics, they might be used
as moderator variables and help to control for contextual and environmental factors. Finally,
future research should implement the educational recommendations provided above and test
whether these recommendations are effective in changing students’ beliefs toward the wrong-
ness of cheating, plagiarism, and questionable academic behaviors. To do so, one or several
departments can be chosen as experimental units, as well as whether students’ beliefs toward
Ethical Beliefs Toward Academic Dishonesty: A Cross-Cultural Comparison 41

cheating behavior can be linked to actual cheating behaviors that are both self-reported and
recorded by administrative staff.

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