Saturday, October 28, 2006

History Graduate Students Less Likely to Cheat

I just read a news story that suggested that humanities and social science graduate students were less likely to cheat than students in other degree programs. The numbers of each discipline that admitted to cheating are as follows:

39% humanities and social science graduate students
43% arts graduate students
49% medical and other health-care graduate students
50% physical sciences graduate students
54% engineering graduate students, and
56% business graduate students

Although I am surprised by how high these numbers are (even for the humanities students), I can't help but wonder why humanities graduate students are less likely to cheat than MBA students. I really doubt that people with higher ethical or moral values are drawn into the humanities than into business.

I suspect that there might be three other reasons for these results.

1. It is easier to get into a MBA program than a humanities graduate program. While it is not ONLY weak students who cheat, in my experience it is often those students who are struggling or feel like they can't make it without cheating who give into the temptation. So perhaps because MBA students are weaker in general than humanities graduate students, they are more likely to feel the pressure to cheat to get through with their programs.

2. Perhaps the type of assignments given to humanities students makes it less likely that they will cheat. I mean how are you going to cheat in a reading seminar? Ever try to participate in discussion having only read the book reviews about a book and not the book? It feels a little like walking into seminar wearing a swimming suit and hoping that no else in the room notices. I suppose plagiarizing on a paper is more likely, but even then why bother plagiarizing a few paragraphs of a 25 page paper. You might as well just write the entire thing. Maybe the typical assignments given to MBA students are easier to cheat on.

3. Cheating breeds cheating. If there is a culture in place among students that hold that it is okay to cheat, it is easier for students coming into that environment to cheat as well. I had dinner at the AHA a couple of years back with some of my friends who had just graduated out of our Ph.D. program and they could recall in disgusted detail a fellow graduate student who was caught cheating. There was definitely an attitude among these students that it was unacceptable to cheat and they wanted the professors to take a hard line on any caught cheating. Anyone coming into that program would soon discover what the acceptable behaviors were in regards to academic integrity.


Jennie W said...

It might have to do the "do anything to get ahead" mentality of the business world. Most humanities degrees don't pay that well. You go into humanities because you want to rather than to make money. At least that's my opinion.

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

Humanities students study ethics. Business students are encouraged to do whatever they can to "win." Just as long as you don't get caught....

Anonymous said...

It is still a chicken or the egg argument. Did they become MBA's because they want to win at all costs? Or do they want to win at all costs because they are MBA's?