Rampant Cheating in Universities Will Be the Focus of a Baylor University Study Funded by Templeton World Charity Foundation

Cheating Study
Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion will study cheating. (iStockphoto)
April 10, 2013

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WACO, Texas (April 10, 2013) -- With cheating rampant -- and growing -- in American high schools and colleges, researchers at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR) will undertake a pilot study investigating the connection between various virtues and measures of academic honesty among college students aspiring to become teachers.

The three-year study of approximately 2,000 students at five Texas universities will be funded by a $903,807 grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation.

Cheating is becoming more widespread each year, and worse yet, "a growing percentage of students seem to see nothing wrong with cheating," said Rodney Stark, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at ISR and a co-principal investigator of the study on student integrity.

Other scholars conducting the study will be Perry Glanzer, Ph.D., associate professor of educational foundations in Baylor's School of Education and Faculty Fellow in ISR; and Byron Johnson, Ph.D., director of ISR and Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences.

"The study will shed light upon the relationship between a set of important virtues -- the moral virtue of honesty, the performance virtue of self-control, and the transcendent virtues of gratitude and purpose -- related to academic integrity and performance," Glanzer said. "The study will also include a longitudinal survey of 2,000 students at five different institutions during their sophomore and senior years. We will also complete qualitative interviews at these universities in order to discover ways that students reason about these matters."

Armed with survey and interview data, the research team plans to analyze the relationship between character traits and virtues. Understanding the detailed links between key attributes will aid in determining how and whether certain key virtues predict academic honesty and deter cheating.

"It is our hope that this pilot study will inform a much larger national level study on this understudied topic," Johnson said.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

ABOUT THE INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDIES OF RELIGION

Launched in August 2004, the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion exists to initiate, support and conduct research on religion, involving scholars and projects spanning the intellectual spectrum: history, psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, political science, epidemiology, theology and religious studies. Its mandate extends to all religions, everywhere, and throughout history, and embraces the study of religious effects on prosocial behavior, family life, population health, economic development and social conflict. While always striving for appropriate scientific objectivity, ISR scholars treat religion with the respect that sacred matters require and deserve.

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