Theses Doctoral

Understanding Academic Dishonesty as Social Process: The case of cheating in Vietnamese High Schools

Doan, Linh Nguyet

Research has consistently shown that academic dishonesty has a detrimental impact on the learning process. Nevertheless, very little research explores "cheating" behaviors from students’ perspectives or the role that peer groups play in the proliferation or reduction of cheating cultures. Academic dishonesty has always been an important subject to study. Still, it is even more crucial today to explore this issue in Western contexts and Eastern countries such as Vietnam. This study seeks to fill the knowledge gap using a quantitative approach that draws on a sample of approximately 1,000 high school students in five provinces of Vietnam. I seek to understand three research questions: (1) How do Vietnamese high school students define "academic dishonesty”? (2) To what extent do personal and contextual factors influence the students' attitudes toward cheating; and (3) How does the difference between the definition of cheating and students’ attitudes affect students’ decisions to engage in cheating.

The result of the Latent Class Analysis shows that Vietnamese students have very different perspectives on what is regarded as cheating in school. , In general, the definition of what it means as “cheating” is highly diverse. Student defined cheating differently depends on where it happens and who is involved, not just on the action itself. In the second research question, using different type of regression analysis and factor analysis, this study further finds that the student’s definition of cheating is the strongest among all the variables and is most likely to affect students’ reactions and attitudes about cheating. Other significant factors found included parental highest education level, leadership position in class, overall classroom achievement, and diligence culture affect students’ reactions. In the final research question, the study examines societal factors and finds that classroom climate also plays an essential role in explaining how students engage in cheating. Often, the class that values hard work over achievement has fewer students who confess to cheating, cheating frequently, and cheating in multiple subjects. In addition, a competitive culture that focuses on achievement can also affect and pressure students to cheat.

This finding highlights the importance of studying dishonestly through the lens of sociology which goes further than the student’s values or “rebellious nature” that makes them cheat. While various research in the field has examined multiple factors related to student cheating, we need to understand the students' rationales for commit cheating to provide root-cause solutions and actionable steps to reduce cheating in schools. The dissertation concludes with recommendations for future research and policy recommendation at the national policy level and at the local school or classroom level.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Comparative and International Education
Thesis Advisors
Pizmony-Levy, Oren
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 2, 2022