A Relationship Between Cheating and Accountability in Community College Mathematics Classes
Strong, David H.
Davidson, Neil A.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between cheating behavior and the situation of varying degrees of accountability in community college mathematics classes. Three community college mathematics classes were selected for the experiment with one arbitrarily designated as the High accountability group, another arbitrarily designated as the Moderate accountability group, and a third as the Low accountability group. Five examinations were given to each class at s paced intervals during the experimental period with directions that there were penalties to one's score for guessing and that all work had to be shown on separate paper. Each class was told that every student would correct his own examination. After each examination, the instructor surreptitiously made a record of answers given by each student. When the examinations were returned for correction in class, the following took place. An answer key was passed out, and the instructor left the room to administer the examination to those absent from the previous class . He remained absent long enough for cheating behavior to take place. Upon the instructor's return, answer sheets only were collected and placed on a table so the instructor could see which students answered which questions correctly. For each question, a student in the High Accountability group was selected by the instructor to explain and otherwise defend his correct answer to the class' satisfaction. The selection of the student was random and based only on whether or not he had correctly answered the question. If he failed to satisfactorily defend his answer, he was either reprimanded or reminded of the directions printed on the examination. This procedure was continued for the remainder of the class until all questions were satisfactorily answered. It was usually the case that all students were called on at least once during the period. In this way, students were made to feel accountable for their answers. In the Moderate Accountability group, students were selected to answer every other question, and in the Low Accountability group, the instructor answered all questions unless a class member volunteered. When the class was finished, answer sheets were compared in the office to the earlier copies of the original answer sheets. A record was made of how many people had cheated in each class and the total number of answers that had been altered in any way. Scores used for achievement measurement were taken from the original answer sheets. Cheating was defined to be the deliberate changing or addition of an answer when marking one's own paper. Incidences of cheating meant the total number of answers changed, and rate of cheating meant the total number of changed answers divided by the total number of cheaters in each class. Four hypotheses were tested: the Analysis of Variance technique was used for hypothesis A, and the chi-square statistic for hypotheses B, C, and D. These hypotheses are as follows: (A) There are no significant differences among the achievement of the subjects in the classes with varying degrees of accountability. (B) There are no significant differences among the number of subjects exhibiting cheating behavior in classes with varying degrees of accountability. (C) There are no significant differences among the number of cheating incidences in classes with varying degrees of accountability. (D) There are no significant differences among the rate of cheating in classes with varying degrees of accountability. Using the .05 level of significance, the results are as follows: (1) No significant differences appeared when the achievement of the classes was compared. (2) No significant differences appeared between the number of cheaters in the classes for the first exam, but there were significantly fewer cheaters in the High Accountability group than in both the Moderate Accountability group and the Low Accountability group on the other four examinations. (3) No significant differences appeared between the incidence of cheating in the classes for the first examination but there were significantly fewer incidences of cheating in the High Accountability group than in both the Moderate Accountability group and the Low Accountability group on the other four examinations (4) No significant differences appeared for any exam when the rate of cheating was compared.