Academic dishonesty and the international student: Are international students different from domestic students?

Heather K Webb, Purdue University


This exploratory study investigated the differences in the attitudes and perceptions about academic dishonesty between international and domestic students. Further, it examined the similarities and differences in how The Neutralization Theory (Sykes & Matza, 1957) was used by domestic and international students to explain participation in academic dishonesty. Responses to open-ended questions presented to 2,906 undergraduate students as part of a larger, web-based survey about academic integrity were utilized as data in this study. Qualitative interviews were conducted with five domestic undergraduate students and eight international undergraduate students. Data gathered from these sources indicated that there were both similarities and differences among domestic and international students in their perception of cheating behaviors. Specifically, the actions of many international students may be influenced by the high school experience in his/her home country. Additionally, while both domestic and international students experience external pressures, those that are experienced by some international students are higher stakes pressures. It was found that both domestic and international students participating in this study utilize denial of responsibility and condemnation of the condemners as neutralizing attitudes, but international student participants indicated using condemnation of the condemners more frequently than the domestic student participants. Appeal to higher loyalties was cited with great frequency among international student participants, but not among domestic student participants. This was due to international students feeling a strong obligation to assist peers from their own country. Finally, this study examines how the findings may be used in practical application by a variety of higher education professionals. The limitations of the study are examined, and several suggestions for future research are presented.




Taub, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Higher education|Bilingual education|Multicultural education

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