Wartime Crisis Perception Predicts Attitudes towards Cheating Behaviour of Higher Education Students

Mahmoud, Ali and Hack-polay, Dieu (2019) Wartime Crisis Perception Predicts Attitudes towards Cheating Behaviour of Higher Education Students. In: BREA Annual Conference 2019, 10-12 September, University of Manchester, UK.

Wartime Crisis Perception Predicts Attitudes towards Cheating Behaviour of Higher Education Students
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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


We aimed to empirically test the effects of wartime crisis perceptions on students’ attitudes towards cheating behaviours. Student integrity has
been an area of interest since the beginning of formal education (Jereb, et al., 2018). Furthermore, there has been increasing work done on
academic integrity and student dishonesty as the topic is deemed to be one of critical importance. Studies have been carried out which examine
student perceptions of plagiarism, collusion and cheating in exams however, these studies were conducted in stable democracies (e.g.,
Rawwas, Swaidan, & Al-Khatib, 2006). Students working in a conflict zone may experience differing perceptions on cheating to those in more
stable environments. Researchers in the field point out that few studies on cheating have been conducted in the Middle East, and even fewer in
conflict zones (e.g., Mahmoud & Blinkhorn, 2018). The review of extant literature demonstrates the lack of research on student academic
misconduct in challenging contexts. Thus, there is a gap in the academic literature, and an empirical study was thus undertaken to answer the
research question. We ran a correlational field study that took place in Syria during the civil war and yielded 517 valid responses from higher
education students during 2015 and 2016. Wartime perceptions were measured using single-item scale designed for this study. We elicited
seven items, from Rawwas et al (2006). Those items were utilized to measure attitudes towards cheating behaviour as a multi-item
unidimensional construct, which scored a good level of internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = .71). We used hierarchical regression to
analyse the influence of wartime perceptions on cheating. Gender, year of study, age, and university type (Mahmoud & Grigoriou, 2017) were
entered into the analysis as control variables. Our results showed that although the participants held negative feelings about cheating (t = -44.8,
df = 516), however, older (β =.20, p ≤ .05) male (β = -.14, p < .01) with less negative wartime personal experience students (β = -.10, p < .05)
tended to hold less unfavourable attitudes towards cheating behaviours. Our results regarding the role of gender are in line with previous
research. Overall, Females have long been characterized to be more ethical than males in general (e.g., Serwinek, 1992) and regarding cheating
behaviour in particular (e.g., Rawwas et al., 2006). However, unlike gender, our results regarding age were inconsistent with literature as we
found a positive relationship between age and tendency to engage in cheating behaviour. Previous research has reported that age-related
evolution of ethical judgment was inclined with the frequency of cheating behaviour (Rawwas et al., 2006). Rawwas and Singhapakdi (1998)
found that the majority of people had a tendency to be more ethical as they became older. Serwinek (1992) stated that age was the most major
ethics precursor with older individuals holding strict elucidations of ethical standards. We contend that a possible reason for that contradiction
might lie within the tendency of older students to be more experienced with university assessments and less anxious about it. With such relatively
lower anxiousness older students would tend to be more daring to consider cheating if needed. Eventually, this study provides new insights
regarding male students’ attitudes to cheating in conflict zones and how they relate to wartime perceptions. Further research could investigate the
reasons for the differences found.

Keywords:Wartime, Cheating Behaviour, Higher Education
Subjects:X Education > X990 Education not elsewhere classified
L Social studies > L252 War & Peace studies
X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
X Education > X220 Study skills
X Education > X300 Academic studies in Education
L Social studies > L200 Politics
Divisions:Lincoln International Business School
ID Code:35608
Deposited On:08 Apr 2019 12:36

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