Business School Topics
University students are more likely to plagiarise when they face unanticipated time pressures, a study conducted by Western Australian researchers has found.
The University of Western Australia's Business School PhD student Hwee Ping Koh, along with fellow researchers, presented 60 undergraduate and postgraduate business students with different scenarios around an impending assignment.
The results showed that whether the ‘last minute' rush to complete an essay was expected or unexpected influenced the likelihood of students committing plagiarism. In particular, students were less likely to plagiarise when time pressure was anticipated rather than unanticipated.
‘Most people will behave ethically given the opportunity,' said Koh. ‘However, circumstances may lead to unethical behaviour.
‘A policy approach could include a proactive educational program ensuring students understand the nature of plagiarism... followed by a reactive approach that imposes penalties on plagiarism. Where plagiarism results from time pressure, educationalists could, through appropriate curriculum design, reduce the propensity for students to plagiarise by reducing or managing that time pressure.
‘It would seem a better understanding of the pressures, both anticipated and unanticipated, that increase the likelihood of student plagiarism will not only enable educators to better control the problem but also have the potential to improve ethical behaviour in the students' future professional lives.'
Koh suggests that teachers communicate assessment information and assessment rubrics at the beginning of semester, in order to encourage students to avoid rushing assignments. In addition, she suggests that unit outlines should include workload expectations and also highlight information around applying for extensions and seeking help where unanticipated problems arise.
Koh is working under the supervision of the UWA Business School's Professor David Woodliff and Professor Glennda Scully, from Curtin University of Technology. Koh's PhD is examining the effects of time pressure on the ethical behaviour of accounting professionals.
This study was presented at the 5th Asia Pacific Conference of Education Integrity on 26 September 2011 and Fogarty Foundation Postgraduate Student Research Forum on 22 November 2011, both of which were held at UWA