February 3, 2012
Universities around the country are taking various measures to promote academic integrity, amidst studies reporting high rates of self-reported cheating among high school and college students (academic integrity in faculty members' research is also an important issue, as evidenced by scandals over falsified data, but that topic is beyond the scope of the present piece). Several estimates of the student cheating rate are available:
Texas Tech University, where I'm on the faculty, has placed a great deal of emphasis on academic integrity in recent years, including maintaining an Ethics Center. In the Fall 2008 semester, the university brought in a couple of prominent experts on the subject to speak on campus. One was David Callahan, author of The Cheating Culture, who presented theories of why people cheat. Another was Melora Sundt, who in her role as a University of Southern California administrator, met with students there involved in academic-misconduct cases. In her presentation, Sundt shared anecdotes about students (and their parents) she encountered, some of whom did, but others who didn't, seem to take responsibility for their actions and grow and learn from their experiences.