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How Do Students Feel About Cheating? Podcast on Academic Integrity Explores Recent Research

Former President of the National College Testing Association and Current Co-Chair of Academic Integrity at College of DuPage, Jarret Dyer Speaks about Academic Integrity on Episode 002 of The Score Podcast

Jarret Dyer who is a former president of the National College Testing Association, test center administrator and is co-chair of Academic Integrity at College of DuPage joined The Score podcast for one of it’s inaugural episodes released in October.

Dyer is a well-known, vocal expert on test administration, test security and academic integrity.

When he talked with journalist Kathryn Baron on The Score, he spoke about his research on academic dishonesty and how students feel about cheating.

Highlights from Dyer’s interview include relaying how one student evaded a test proctor and he said regarding research on cheating by students: “More than half the students admitted to cheating on tests.”

Read on for select portions of the podcast transcript:

Jarret Dyer (04:40): From our own research we found that students in essence think [cheating is] conditional, it really depends on if the institution has provided them with the ability to cheat – their words, not mine – or if there were preventative measures to keep them from cheating.

Jarret Dyer (09:17): We found that more than half of the students, so about 61% interviewed admitted to having cheating on tests. They do not do it very often and then generally do not think it’s acceptable, but here comes the “but.” But more than three quarters – so 75% – do not consider all types of cheating that we presented them with as [being] totally unacceptable. So, in other words, many students view academic integrity as conditional.

 Jarret Dyer (10:32): Students are more likely to think that cheating is acceptable, even expected if a test is given without a proctor.

Kathryn Baron: (10:45) That’s really interesting. I just think just because there’s not someone in the room who tells you not to do it, you would think that college students know that it’s not okay to do it.

Jarret Dyer: (10:56) And what we’re finding, what previous research, prior to ours, really has shown is that there’s been a bit of a transition to an expectation for the institution to demonstrate the importance of why the action should not, why the cheating should not take place, as opposed to just don’t do it because – and in many ways I understand – we’ve transitioned a lot. Having spoken with students and talked about and unpacked this, it does make sense on some level, if you sit in their shoes, but that doesn’t make it acceptable. And so really it becomes more of a burden on the institution to work more proactively, to engage students, to get them to understand that maybe what they’ve experienced prior in education, we need a paradigm shift, we need to nip it. We need to flip it to be a good global citizen, but it’s not going to happen on its own.

Kathryn Baron (13:16): And it’s frightening actually. I mean, I wonder, should we be alarmed because you mentioned engineering and nursing. I really don’t want to go into a hospital and have a nurse who cheated working on me, it just seems a little bit scary.

Jarret Dyer (13:52): Fascinating question. I’ll answer it this way, so, no, I haven’t interviewed any of our local hospitals or communities, but now I’m writing this down for a note, so thanks for the idea. But I have been at enough test security presentations by colleagues who usually start with a story of an individual who, I mean and terrifying stuff, an airplane crash, or a ship going off course or things of this nature, where it was shown that there had been either a large-scale cheating or particular cheating within a certain area. And you have to ask yourself, did one lead to the other? Was that pilot or that captain not capable of doing because of this? And so, yeah, I do think we should be alarmed. We actually posed this question to our students here and we said, “Listen, we are the academics, we’re staff, we don’t want a top down approach to this. So what do you think a cheating campaign or an anti cheating campaign should look like and how would you make a video to that?

Jarret Dyer (17:45): And really from our research, what we found, that there’s a lot of rationalization and that students really, they think about the cheating behavior and they state, they tell themselves that if an instructor did not want us to cheat, they would not make it so easy for us to do so. So, placing the blame back on either the faculty or the institution for making it so easy. And what’s again alarming. Is you had said about that is on the flip side, previous research has shown that faculty don’t believe that as much cheating is going on as students do. So, if you’re seeing a V-shaped perspective here with faculty thinking that there’s less cheating going on, and students thinking that the faculty are making it easier for them to achieve, then that proliferation goes unchecked.

Jarret Dyer: (28:58): So, like I mentioned, we created that video series as highlighted to engage students, and we try to collaborate with other key organizations in the industry to be part of that strategic narrative. Currently, the National College Testing Association, projects with ATP, the Association of Test Publishers and ENAI, the European Network of Academic Integrity and we’re finalizing another with the International Center for Academic Integrity. They’ve also created proctoring videos that help proctors know what to look for and they’re developing a Proctor certification. So there’s a lot in there not just sitting around, but I do have to tell you a lot of it, once something happens is sitting around, talking about you can’t believe. It actually inspired me years back to put a collection together, that’s also available online called Test Proctors Share All. And I’ve been meaning to get a pandemic edition because there’s just been so many great stories with a colleague that we know and love.

The 40-minute episode is available on Apple or Spotify or on the podcast website.

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