Academic dishonesty: More than plagiarism and cheating on tests

by Jasper Fessmann
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Jasper Fessmann

Jasper Fessmann

Academic dishonesty invokes in most teacher “copy and paste” plagiarism or attempts to cheat on tests. Unfortunately, these are things that will sooner or later be an issue encountered by any university teacher. While these are the most common types of problems, these are by far not the only issues.

The University of Florida Student Honor Code lists the following 12 offenses:

  1. Plagiarism
  2. Unauthorized Use of Materials or Resources (“Cheating”)
  3. Prohibited Collaboration or Consultation
  4. False or Misleading Statement Relating to a Student Honor Code Violation
  5. False or Misleading Statement for the Purpose of Procuring an Academic Advantage (“Lying”)
  6. Use of Fabricated or Falsified Information (“making things up”)
  7. Interference with or Sabotage of Academic Activity (of others in order to “get ahead”)
  8. Unauthorized Taking or Receipt of Materials or Resources to Gain an Academic Advantage (e.g. “stealing tests from the professor’s office”)
  9. Unauthorized Recordings
  10. Bribery
  11. Submission of Paper or Academic Work Purchased or Obtained from an Outside Source
  12. Conspiracy to Commit Academic Dishonesty

College teachers encounter a wide range of attempts to cheat, often with a degree of energy required on the part of the students to prepare that one wonders why they did not just spend that energy to succeed without cheating.

With plagiarism, students tend to simply taking shortcuts and even are willing to pay quite a lot of money to have somebody else write their paper. For more information on this, view this ABC News segment on 21st Century College Cheating

The best way to prevent cheating is to address it early on

The best way of preventing academic dishonesty is to address it early and directly with the class. A clear statement about it should be in the syllabus, and the teacher should speak with the students about academic dishonesty issues. The reason to address it early lies in what is called the Broken Window Theory. According to that theory, small infractions, if not addressed quickly, tend to increase.

The following list of tips to prevent cheating from “McKeachie’s Teaching Tips” (2014: 98-99) can be helpful in discouraging/preventing academic dishonesty:

  • Reduce pressure on the students so that there is less temptation.
  • Address the issue clearly in the syllabus and point it out in class.
  • Make reasonable demands and create do-able and useful assignments.
  • Create group norms that support honesty  (such as have them vote types of tests / sign a honor pledge).
  • Talk to students who are not doing well in class to see if you can help them become more effective students.
  • Try to create smaller class size, so there is better interaction and less anonymity
  • Don’t leave copies of exams out for students to steal.
  • Think about how students might try to cheat and easy steps to prevent that.
  • PAY ATTENTION when administering a test.
  • Use Canvas and other online tools.

What to do when you have a case of Academic Dishonesty?

The first and most important rule is to always check with and involve the college or university administration to make sure you are following the institution’s guidelines and policies. At the University of Florida, the Dean of Students Office handles academic dishonesty issues.

The instructor who has identified an academic dishonesty issue must contact the Dean of Students Office, which has a process (including paperwork) that must be followed.


Svinivki, M., & McKeachie, W. J. (2014). McKeachie’s teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers ; with chapters by David Nicol … Belmont .: Wadsworth. p.98-99

UF Dean of Students Office

Jasper Fessmann is a doctoral student in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida and a student in Mass Communication Teaching (MMC 6930).


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