Faculty Perceptions of Academic Misconduct in Online Courses: Understanding the Impact of Faculty Assessment Strategies, Delivery Mode, and Institutional Trust Models on Academic Integrity

Date of Completion

January 2011


Information Technology|Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Technology of




This study investigated to what extent online faculty perception of and actions towards academic misconduct during assessment were influenced by assessment style, online assessment mode, school honor codes, course or syllabus warning communications, and institutional integrity policy. Additionally, the study examined emerging trends in the management of integrity in the online classroom.^ In the Phase I survey, Faculty Perceptions of Cheating in Online Courses and Related Contextual Influencers, a quantitative approach was used to investigate both the extent of the problem and the effectiveness of identified predictors. Six-hundred-eighty-five faculty members from five east coast universities were surveyed about their experiences, perceptions, and beliefs regarding cheating. The universities varied in size, cultural norms towards cheating, and institutional involvement in promoting academic integrity. Faculty reported observing a great deal of cheating, even amidst documented responses indicating reporting discrepancies of cheating by one-in-four faculty. Instructional setting (traditional or online) was not found to be a significant predictor of the level of cheating. Analysis also revealed that four-of-five predictors of faculty perceptions of cheating, while statistically significant, accounted for only 12% of the variance. This suggests a considerable portion of prevention of cheating on assessment is being addressed through other means.^ The Phase II research, Towards Managing Integrity in the Online Classroom: Emerging Themes, used a qualitative method consisting of faculty interviews, collecting supporting course artifacts, and a grounded theory approach toward investigating emerging themes. The analysis revealed that a convergence of terms describing cheating and cheating prevention techniques was helpful in reducing data. Five themes emerged from the in-depth interviews of faculty indicating that cheating prevention is largely situated in the specific course context. The themes were: the inevitability of cheating behaviors, concerns about issues of misrepresentation, the use of conversational writing in assessment, how to control validity of assessment using authentic assessment/unique products, and the minimization of cheater advantage over honest students through assessment process modifications. ^