University survey gauges dishonesty

USF is participating in a University-wide survey to find out just how much students are cheating.

The survey gauges two major points. The first is whether students are aware of and clearly understand academic dishonesty. The second assesses the effectiveness of the methods used by professors to make students aware of academic dishonesty policies.

Earlier this year, a committee was formed to judge the effectiveness of academic dishonesty policies. In order to accurately answer this question, the committee decided to solicit the help of Donald McCabe, founder of the Center for Academic Integrity. The Center has conducted 80 academic dishonesty surveys across the country.

“It’s an endemic problem throughout the nation,” professor of philosophy and faculty union president Roy Weatherford said. “I have caught students cheating. I usually chew them out, or I usually fail them.”

The surveys were sent to all USF students through USF WebMail on Feb. 22 and all professors on Feb. 19.

The 10-minute survey asks a variety of questions ranging from, “Have you ever plagiarized?” to, “How in-depth does your professor discuss academic dishonesty and its penalties?”

To compare results, students are required to list their major and their year in school.

Survey administrators assure students and faculty that their answers will be kept confidential and encourage students to be as honest as possible.

McCabe will be the only person with access to the results and will enter them into a computer program, which statistically calculates general results.

Other participants, including the University of California-Davis and Duke University, yielded a 15 to 20 percent response, McCabe said.

Many students do not use their USF e-mail address and forwarded messages to other accounts are often lost, he said.

“There are a fair number of students who have not seen it, McCabe said.”

According to Tom Miller, dean of students, more than 3,000 people have responded to the survey.

“I think I saw (the survey), but I didn’t read it,” senior Britta Clark said.

She receives a lot of spam in the form of surveys and usually deletes them. She said she does not understand the need for a survey.

“It seems like a basic thing and a waste of time,” Clark said.

Chair of the department of mathematics Marcus McWaters said USF students don’t cheat more than any other university.

“There is always cheating in a university this size,” McWaters said.

According to Miller, if the results show that USF students are not well informed about academic dishonesty issues and their consequences, the committee may recommend some changes.

When the results are compiled, Miller plans on making an assessment plan to be distributed to all professors.

Miller said his committee plans on sending out a reminder about the survey to both students and faculty by the end of the week. He plans to close the survey on March 9.

According to McCabe, the results of the survey should be returned to USF two weeks after its completion.

“I think it is a good institutional conversation,” Miller said. “We may find that we have a lot to be proud of, or we might find we have a lot of work to do.”

Students can fill out the survey at