Despite clear policies regarding the penalties of academic dishonesty, it continues to be a significant issue in higher education. Academic dishonesty most often takes the forms of cheating or plagiarism (Witherspoon, Maldonado, & Lacey, 2012). In an effort to better combat the problem, researchers have conducted studies to understand the motivations of students who commit academic dishonesty. They have identified several causes, which will be described in this paper.
At the most basic, students wish to make good grades, and sometimes they feel that the only way to obtain good grades is to cheat. There is a mentality of “the need to get good grades at all cost” (Witherspoon, Maldonado, & Lacey, 2012, p. 76). Sometimes students cheat because they find the material too difficult; they lack discipline or time management skills to complete assignments in the allotted time; or they wish to guarantee good grades. Perhaps the students are in competitive programs or wish to attend prestigious and/or competitive graduate programs. Witherspoon, Maldonado, & Lacey (2012) state that students “often believe they will receive higher salaries from future employers if they have exceptional grades” (p. 76).
Research also suggests that technology has made it easier for students to commit academic dishonesty. Not only has the variety of information available on the Internet given students unprecedented access to resources, the variety of devices that students can use to access the information makes it easier (Witherspoon, Maldonado, & Lacey, 2012). There is also the possibility that students don’t appreciate the interplay between technology and academic dishonesty, meaning they don’t understand how to properly use information they glean from technology-based sources. They may lack the skills to properly use and cite resources in such a way as to avoid committing academic dishonesty.