This week, I am reviewing a recent article from Educational Research Review. The full citation can be found here:

Co, M. J., Kerbage, S. H., Willetts, G., Garvey, L., Bhattacharya, A., Croy, G., and Mitchel, B. (2023). Students coping with change in higher education: An overview. Educational Research Review, 38(1), 1-25.

Using a systematic literature review process, the authors look at student coping and coping strategies within higher education. In reviewing this article, I see several parallels to academic integrity, though I admit that I am extrapolating data from the article and applying it to the academic integrity field.

Student Coping

The authors define student coping through four main elements: anxiety, self-efficacy, engagement, and resilience.

Anxiety: stressors can cause positive anxiety to turn negative, and negative anxiety reduces self-efficacy and resilience. Negative anxiety can come from the pressure to receive good grades, financial instability, demands from others, etc. Several of these stressors, such as extrinsic motivation for good grades, are linked to increases in academic misconduct (Anderman & Midgley, 2004; Murdock et al., 2001).

Self-Efficacy: high self-efficacy is linked to greater student resilience. In academic integrity, we know that high self-efficacy also results in lower rates of cheating (Murdock et al., 2001; Nora & Zhang, 2010).

Engagement: the authors note that when students are less engaged, coping is more challenging. It also limits students’ entrenchment into institutional culture. We can see this as students buying in to cultures of academic integrity.

Resilience: “A resilient student can learn from a demanding situation through their ability to transform challenges into opportunities” (p 3). The authors tie the previous three elements into resilience when coping. We see this in academic integrity when students do not believe they can overcome a challenge (lack self-efficacy), but experience pressure for high grades (anxiety) and lack engagement and deep learning of the materials. They may fear that they have no ability to succeed on their own, so they may look for a shortcut to help them reach their target at any cost rather than adapting to the collegiate environment and learning from mistakes.


In the literature reviewed, the authors note interventions that attempt changes at both the cohort and curriculum levels. Changes at the cohort level often involved targeted programs to help students develop self-efficacy and reduce anxiety, thereby improving their resilience and engaging them in their campus communities, which improves the student’s ability to cope. At the curriculum level, the authors discuss change by addressing active learning interventions that increase student engagement, which enhances coping. When looking on interventions based on social cognitive theories, such as microteaching and peer tutoring, it can also increase student self-efficacy. In developing this engagement and self-efficacy, Co et al. (2023) state: "an educational culture of trustworthiness and readiness to care (also related components to engagement and reduced anxiety) was a catalyst for students’ developing resilience, and hence enhanced their capacity to cope” (p. 9).

When designing interventions for academic integrity, are we developing student self-efficacy? Are we making students feel like they are part of an academically honest student body? How are faculty and staff approaching grades, particularly the need for high grades to maintain scholarships and post-baccalaureate aspirations? What supports do institutions have for student success and mental health? All of these questions may offer insight into student academic misconduct, but from a change framework instead of a morality framework.

The role of change

Change is complex, and students undergo change both in and out of the classroom. When institutions adapt to students undergoing transformative change, they may help students develop better coping capacity. Similarly, when students are unable to cope with change, they may be more inclined to commit academic misconduct. Change is not always planned; for instance, students may undergo change after being reported for academic misconduct. If they can cope with this change, they may grow into more academically honest students. Leveraging capacity to cope during change may be an opportunity for academic integrity practitioners.

Where to go from here

The role of change in student academic behaviors has not been studied. If you have any graduate students or academic integrity researchers looking for a project, this may be an interesting avenue to study. If you start the project, let me know! I would love to be involved with this research.

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Anderman, E. M., & Midgley, C. (2004). Changes in self-reported academic cheating across the transition from middle school to high school. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 29(4), 499–517.

Co, M. J., Kerbage, S. H., Willetts, G., Garvey, L., Bhattacharya, A., Croy, G., and Mitchel, B. (2023). Students coping with change in higher education: An overview. Educational Research Review, 38(1), 1-25.

Murdock, T. B., Hale, N. M., & Weber, M. J. (2001). Predictors of cheating among early adolescents: Academic and social motivations. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 26(1), 96-115.  

Nora, W. L. Y., & Zhang, K. C. (2010). Motives of cheating among secondary students: the role of self-efficacy and peer influence. Asia Pacific Educational Review, 11, 573–584.