Experiences with and perceptions of academic dishonesty at Lehigh University: a plan to improve a campus culture that values integrity

Basso, Sharon K.
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University of Delaware
Academic integrity and trustworthiness are essential values in an institution of higher education. Cheating that goes unchecked threatens the integrity of the academic community. Rampant cheating on a college campus may establish a norm of academic dishonesty that could erode the core academic values of the university. The site of this project is Lehigh University, a private, selective, residential research university in the Mid-Atlantic United States. During the course of this project, a combination of methods shed light on the campus climate related to academic integrity. Faculty, student, and administrative staff attitudes toward and perceptions of academic dishonesty were examined. A hybrid design of qualitative and quantitative research methods was employed using observation, interviews, critical incidents technique, and a survey. In addition, nationally recognized measures, theories, and frameworks were employed to assess the current campus academic integrity culture and make informed decisions about interventions that would improve the campus ethos. A discussion of the significant progress made towards improving the campus climate is presented. Finally, recommendations are offered to support continuous improvement as Lehigh University strives to embody a campus culture that promotes integrity of all types. Although college students bear some responsibility for cheating behavior, it is clear that faculty, administrators, and university policies are crucial influences in the establishment of a campus culture that values academic integrity. A campus culture that deeply values integrity can promote an environment where students are less likely to cheat and faculty members are more likely to report incidents.