Learning to E-Cheat: A Criminological Test of Internet Facilitated Academic Dishonesty.

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An increasing problem of great concern for academic institutions is the pervasiveness of cheating among students. Further compounding this problem is advancements in technology that have created new ways for students to engage in cheating. Despite a growing interest in technology facilitated cheating, little is known about why students may employ electronic resources to cheat. However, Akers' social learning theory offers one plausible explanation. Surveys were collected from a sample of 534 college students at a large southeastern university in order to quantify the prevalence and frequency of Internet facilitated cheating. These surveys allowed for an exploration of factors associated with this form of cheating and a comparison between what we refer to as E-cheating and traditional forms of cheating. Results indicate that approximately 40% of students have engaged in some form of E-cheating in the last year. Social learning variables emerge as the strongest predictors of both the occurrence and frequency of E-cheating while self-control and strain variables have little effect. An exploration of the relationship between E-cheating and similar technology free cheating behaviors suggests that there is significant overlap, but that some students do “specialize” in E-cheating or technology free cheating. We conclude by offering suggestions for teaching strategies, course and assignment design, and testing that will best limit E-cheating.