Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies


Educational Administration

First Advisor

Katherine Chaddock


Cheating in classes is not a new concern for higher education faculty. It has been studied extensively during the last 50 years by researchers such as Bowers, Cizek, McCabe, Passow, and Whitley. However, most of the research on cheating to date has been related to traditional courses and has often included a wide range of cheating types. With the explosion of online learning in the last 15 years, there has been very little research related to cheating on tests in online classes. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to learn more about cheating among students taking online classes in two-year and four-year educational institutions in the United States.

This study used Ajzen's (1991) theory of planned behavior as the conceptual framework to investigate students' attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control as it related to cheating on unproctored tests in online courses. As suggested by Brown and Emmett (2001), moral obligation was also added to the predictors. An online survey sent to 5 two-year and 5 four-year colleges was used to obtain student self-report data for the study. Perceived behavioral control and moral obligation were both found to be significant predictors of cheating on tests in online courses. The findings included no significant difference between students cheating on online tests in private versus public colleges or two-year versus four-year colleges. The only significant demographic factor appeared to be age group, with students in the younger age group admitting to cheating more often. A larger percentage (18.4 percent) admitted to cheating on tests in traditional courses than in online courses (15.5 percent). However, the odds

were that students who admitted cheating on tests in traditional classes were 7.26 times as likely to admit to cheating on tests in online classes. This finding indicates that cheaters cheat regardless of the instructional mode.