Date of Award

Winter 2007

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educ Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Linda Bol

Committee Member

Dana Burnett

Committee Member

John J. Sygielski


Values development is an important part of the mission of community colleges, and upholding academic integrity is one way in which colleges advance this mission. Community colleges serve a multigenerational student body, more diverse than most four-year institutions of higher education, and different generational cohort groups hold different values and attitudes. The purpose of this study was to determine whether community college students varied by generation in their evaluation of academic activities as cheating, and to further determine whether such variation interacted with demographic variables and the extent to which personal morality is grounded in a religious belief system. Based on the literature, a Likert-type scale instrument was developed, the Definitions of Cheating Scale (DoCS). Following administration in a pilot study, the instrument was subjected to factor analysis and revised. The revised DoCS was completed by 650 students. Factor analysis was again conducted, resulting in four factors: exams/papers, fabrication, shortcuts, and excuses. The results supported the reliability and validity of the instrument. Results of MANOVA determined that students did not differ by generation in their evaluation of cheating related to exams and papers. However, significant differences did exist among generations in their evaluation of activities of fabrication, taking shortcuts, and making excuses, with Millennial students consistently rating activities less strongly as cheating than either Generation X or Baby Boomer students. None of the student characteristics measured were significant as main effects or in interaction with generation. These results are consistent with previous literature regarding generational differences in values and attitudes such as team orientation and achievement-pressure (Howe & Strauss, 2000), and suggest that discussions with college students about academic honesty must be frank and deliberate. The DoCS also provides a potential measure for the effectiveness of activities designed to improve the climate of academic integrity on a college campus, such as implementation of an honor code.