Dr. Jason Stephens Publishes Book on “Creating a Culture of Academic Integrity”

Stock image -- cheating

Recent cheating scandals in schools across the U.S. have generated alarming national headlines. Connecticut’s own Waterbury Hopeville School is  under investigation for suspected educational misconduct during this year’s state mastery test.

Dr. Jason Stephens, an associate professor in the Neag School of Education‘s Department of Educational Psychology, addressed academic integrity issues like these reported cases and provided insight on prevention strategies in his new book.

The text, Creating a Culture of Academic Integrity: A Tool Kit for Secondary Schools, examines Stephen’s research with co-author David B. Wangaard, E.D., from their three-year intervention project, Achieving with Integrity.

The empirical information from their analysis of six Connecticut high schools further justifies the need for aid in scholastic honesty improvement and establishes academic integrity as a priority.

According to Stephens in a recent NPR interview, “Where We Live: Cheating Schools,” nine out of 10 students admit to some form of cheating in the previous year, in which half view their behavior as morally wrong.

“We’ve had an epidemic in academic dishonesty for really decades now,” he said.

Stephens’ book strives to reverse this trend by discussing plagiarism, providing tactics to improve students’ understanding of cheating, as well as suggesting policies and resources to abide by as means of constructing ethical standards.

“The problem itself I think is just symptomatic of what we’ve done with education over the past literally 30 years for children, but the past 10 under No Child Left Behind, and that is to make it a high stakes game,” Stephens said in his interview. “This kind of cheating becomes inevitable.”

Stephens and his colleague believe cheating issues are routed in the higher pressures of student performance success.

“I think of it as the soil and not the seed,” he said.

The book provides school leaders and teachers the support needed to develop ethical learning communities to promote academic engagement and honesty.

One of Creating a Culture of Academic Integrity’s most important features is the instruction plan for establishing an Academic Integrity Committee through the collaboration of teachers, students, administrators and parents.

It is the authors’ hope that by implementing a climate of diligence and probity, there will be a greater resistance for cheating and therefore more honest learning.

At the Neag School, Stephens teaches classes on human learning, academic motivation and research methods. His fieldwork focuses on moral development during adolescence with Stephens’ primary interest being the normative dishonest behavior as it is related to cheating.

For more information about the book, contact Dr. Stephens at jason.stephens@uconn.edu.