Are you concerned about possible increases in academic misconduct since the COVID-19 pandemic began? Are you an administrator or faculty member in higher education who might be interested in seeing, and helping to collect relevant data? We have been collecting data from students through an online survey since January, in two countries. We’re sharing some preliminary results below, and inviting you to join in the project. Rationale: Although anecdotal reports from organizations like the International Center for Academic Integrity and the European Network for Academic Integrity indicate that academic misconduct in institutions of higher education have increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, generalizable data is limited, and relevant data collected directly from students is rare. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate the beliefs and experiences of students in higher education regarding academic misconduct before and after the beginning of the pandemic. Methods: Our participants were post-secondary students from five of the stronger universities in Romania (N = 480) and 11 universities and colleges in the United States (N = 414). The sample included 119 first year students, 213 second year students, 214 third year students, 120 fourth year students, and 121 graduate students. Participants reported their gender identities as 255 male, 627 female, and 28 other. Specialties/majors included Generic 6, Education 110, Arts/Humanities 73, Social Sciences 175, Business 188, Natural Sciences 75, Information Tech 22, Engineering 139, Agriculture 22, Health/welfare 84, and Services 8. Participants completed a single survey that required about 15 minutes of their time. We asked participants three questions about their beliefs and experiences regarding three different types of academic misconduct. The three questions about beliefs and experiences asked what percent of their peers they believed were engaging in each of three types of academic misconduct, how many times they had witnessed a peer engaging in each of three types of academic misconduct, and how many times they had engaged in each of three types of academic misconduct themselves. The three different types of academic misconduct were cheating on examinations in class, cheating on assignments outside of class, and plagiarism. Using a retrospective pretest design, we asked each of these questions twice – once with respect to the year before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and once with respect to the year since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In other words, we asked a total of 18 questions about student beliefs and experiences: 3 types of misconduct X 3 types of beliefs or experiences X two time intervals (the years before and after beginning of the pandemic) = 18 questions. Results: Before and after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Mean responses from Romanian students were significantly higher than mean responses for US students across all three questions and all three types of academic misconduct, with a few exceptions. In other words, students in Romania reported higher rates for believing their classmates were cheating, observing their classmates cheat, and acknowledging their own academic misconduct, than students in the US, both before and after the pandemic began.
  • Almost all of these means were also greater during the year after the pandemic began than they were during the year before the pandemic began.
  • More interestingly, Romanians reported a reduction in cheating on assignments since the start of the pandemic, while US students reported an increase in cheating on assignments.
  • Students from both countries reported a decrease in plagiarism since the beginning of the pandemic, with a greater drop reported by the Romanian students.

What’s Next:

  • We have now collected more than 1,300 responses in the United States and 1,800 in Romania.
  • We are beginning to collect data in Canada.
  • Colleagues are working on translations of the survey with the goal of collecting data in Chile, Hungary, Indonesia, Lithuania, Mexico, and Ukraine.

  To get involved, or to learn more about this study, contact the Principal Investigator: Bob Ives, University of Nevada, Reno USA, at