Influential characteristics motivating academic dishonesty among DPT students


Students who commit acts of academic dishonesty (AD) during their education are more likely to engage in unprofessional behaviors in the workplace. Understanding the motivation behind AD is key to creating effective administrative changes.

The purpose of this study is to examine the factors that motivate PT students in the United States to commits acts of AD.


DPT students in the US were recruited through a PT student Facebook page (approximately 15,000 members) and through an additional student email listserve (approximately 250 students). Participants completed a survey with 3 components: a discrete choice experiment hosted by 1000Minds, followed by a ranking survey and demographics survey, hosted by Wufoo. 11 variables were identified as having the potential to influence AD: student learning purpose: neutralizing attitudes, social benefit of cheating, burnout, and school-related pressures, ability to cheat without getting caught, dissatisfaction with evaluation methods, dissatisfaction with evaluation methods, history of cheating, cheater’s high, faculty member perceptions of cheating, and culture of the academic institution. The ranking survey included all variables. To decrease respondent burden, the discrete choice experiment was limited to 5 variables.


206 DPT students completed the survey. In the discrete choice experiment, physical therapist students were most motivated by school-related pressures, burnout and neutralizing attitudes. In the ranking survey, burnout, school-related pressures and dissatisfaction with evaluation methods were identified as the top three motivators for students to commit AD. These motivators were the same regardless of gender. 25% of participants reported that they never engaged in AD while only 3% reported not seeing other students commit AD. 25% of First Year DPT students reported not seeing others commit AD compared to 4% of Second Year and 3% of Third Year DPT students. The most common methods of AD observed of others were: working on individual assignments with others (79%) and talking about or giving details about a practical exam (77%).

DPT students express clear preferences that motivate them to commit AD. School-related pressures and burnout were identified in both surveys as high motivators for students. There was a shift between the first and second year of school regarding the number of people admitting to observing AD especially in collaborative manners. Future discrete choice models assessing motivators for AD should consider including dissatisfaction with evaluation methods and the ability to cheat without getting caught. Faculty would benefit from considering these attributes when developing assignments and creating policies.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Shaping the Future of Physical Therapy Education

AD is a major concern for physical therapists as dishonest behavior in academia can carry over into the clinic. Addressing AD in physical therapist education is crucial to foster the development of trustworthy and effective clinicians and promote a profession of integrity.


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  • Control #: 2289797
  • Type: Posters
  • Event/Year: ELC2015
  • Authors: Dr. Babette Sanders, Daniel Pinto, Chandi Edmonds, Laura Hoverson, Noelle Sereis
  • Keywords:

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