Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education and Organizational Leadership Development

Committee Chair/Advisor

Daniella Hall Sutherland, Ph.D

Committee Member

Golnaz Arastoopour-Irgens, Ph.D

Committee Member

Michelle Boettcher, Ph.D

Committee Member

Barbara Nesbitt, Ph.D


Academic dishonesty occurs in higher education. Students who choose to cheat will find a way no matter the assessment type, learning environment modality, and deterrents. Academic integrity in online assessments has been prevalent even before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, due to the recent increase in online learning modalities, cheating is at the top of faculty concerns, and many instructors believe that online assessments open the door for cheating.

I conducted a root causal analysis using an improvement science framework to identify why students cheat in higher education. This study identified two major themes of reasons students participate in academic dishonesty. First, the pressure of grades and GPA influence students to cheat. Second, personal pressures such as family expectations, time management skills (or lack thereof), and education expenses can lead students to believe they have no other options but to cheat.

Recommendations to alleviate grade and student pressures include a steering committee to identify updates to current policies and procedures related to GPA, a required academic integrity course for all students, time management and study resources for students, and assessment training for faculty. Educational leadership can create and implement interventions to help address the student pressures and, therefore, decrease the amount of academic dishonesty at higher education institutions.



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