The Impact of an Honor Code on Cheating in Online Courses

July 14, 2011


Three studies were conducted to assess the effect of an honor code on self-reported cheating during online quizzes in an Introductory Psychology course. In Study 1 (N = 40), the authors found that 72.5% of students reported cheating on at least one of the 14 quizzes (M = 4.15), typically by consulting the textbook or the online course materials. In Study 2 (N = 84), students were randomly assigned to a fully asynchronous online section in which students were required to digitally sign an honor code or to a section without such a requirement.Contrary to expectations, no significant difference in self-reported cheating emerged between students who signed the honor code (61.5%) and students who did not sign the code (50%). In Study 3 (N = 165), the authors tested students in blended sections and found that students who signed an honor code were about 30% less likely to report cheating (57.6%) than those who did not sign (81.8%). The authors discuss the implications for online instruction and suggest that the immediacy (i.e., perceived social distance) of the instructor is one key factor that influences compliance with honor codes in online courses.

SOURCE: MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

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