Presentation Title: Motivation and Academic Cheating

Abstract: Academic cheating in the United States may be at an all-time high. The media in particular has focused in recent years on numerous cheating scandals. These incidents have involved both students and teachers. What is common in all of these cases is the role of academic motivation. Research conducted over the past two decades has clearly indicated that variables that emerge from achievement motivation research are related in important ways to academic cheating. Specifically, using achievement goal orientation theory as a framework, studies indicate that cheating is less likely to occur when students are focused on mastery of academic tasks, and more likely to occur when students are focused on extrinsic outcomes (e.g., getting high grades) (Anderman, 2007; Anderman, Griessinger, & Westerfield, 1998; Anderman & Midgley, 2004; Murdock & Anderman, 2006; Murdock, Hale, & Weber, 2001; Newstead, Franklyn-Stokes, & Armstead, 1996; Stephens & Gehlbach, 2007). In this symposium presentation, I will briefly review the findings related to motivation and academic cheating from four sets of studies. The first study focuses on cheating in science during the middle school years (Anderman, et al., 1998); the second focuses on cheating in mathematics in both middle school and high school (Anderman & Midgley, 2004); the third focuses on motivation and cheating in highly impulsive adolescents (Anderman, Cupp, & Lane, 2009); the fourth is a new study of interviews with adolescents about their motivation to cheat – specifically, data include 60 interviews with students from three high schools (an urban public school, a suburban public school, and a private Catholic school). Results from all four studies will be used to demonstrate that we now have ample data to indicate that academic cheating is fostered when teachers and schools and colleges emphasize the importance of grades and test scores (as opposed to mastery and learning).

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