Investigating the probability of student cheating: The relevance of student characteristics,assessment items, perceptions of prevalence and history of engagement


  • Michael L Kremmer
  • Mark Brimble
  • Peta Stevenson-Clarke



Academic dishonesty is a fundamental issue in terms of the educational integrity of higher education institutions. Accordingly, there is a growing pool of literature that examines this issue. This study adds to this literature by investigating factors that may influence student engagement in academic misconduct. We examine the influence of the type of assessment items, age, gender, nationality, discipline and level of study and the students' self-reported history of cheating. Drawing from a survey of 1,057 students across four major Queensland universities, we find that a student's age, gender and nationality are useful in explaining the probability of a student cheating. Our key finding, however, suggests that the likelihood that a student will engage in any given cheating behaviour is most strongly influenced by the extent to which the student engages in other forms of cheating, supporting the notion of "once a cheat always a cheat". We conclude that more needs to be done to combat a culture of acceptance of academic dishonesty and to minimise defensive misconduct by students who otherwise might not engage in such behaviour. We suggest that university administrators devote increased resources to this issue and develop mechanisms for managing and curtailing the level of academic misconduct. A failure to do so may result in a further undermining of the academic integrity of the Australian tertiary sector.