UNDERGRADUATES’ RETROSPECTIVE PERCEPTIONS OF ACADEMIC DISHONESTY AS GIFTED HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Research shows that gifted high school students engage in academically dishonest behavior. Likewise, research shows that individuals can use neutralization techniques offered by Sykes and Matza (1957) to rationalize academic dishonesty. This study was to investigate how undergraduates, who are former gifted high school students, can rationalize academically dishonest behavior by using neutralization techniques identified chronologically by Sykes and Mata (1957), Klockars (1974), Minor (1981), Benson (1985), Cromwell & Thurman (2003), and Coleman (2006) in a high school setting. Likewise, this investigation was conducted to uncover any novel neutralization techniques for cheating, issues that could lead to academic dishonesty and procedures, and instructions that could promote academic integrity in a high school setting. This mixed-methods study used a quantitative online survey and semi-structured interviews focusing on neutralization techniques to rationalize academic dishonesty. The participants were undergraduates reflecting on their experiences as gifted high school students. Ultimately, 127 undergraduates from a private university in Georgia provided their degree of agreement with 19 neutralization statements that correspond to neutralization techniques identified by Sykes and Matza’s (1957), Klockars (1974), and Minor (1981). Four respondents agreed to be interviewed. These qualitative interviews focused on all identified and any novel neutralization techniques used to rationalize academic dishonesty. This study revealed that gifted high school students could use all identified neutralization techniques to rationalize academic dishonesty. Three previously unidentified neutralization techniques to rationalize academic dishonesty were identified. Furthermore, issues that could lead to academic dishonesty and procedures and instructions could promote academic integrity were identified. The findings support the need for curriculum and instruction that promotes academic integrity among gifted high school students. Recommendations for further research include the extent of drift (Matza, 1964) experienced by gifted high school students, if non-gifted students use the newly identified neutralization techniques, when do students first use neutralization techniques to rationalize academic dishonesty, desensitization to academic dishonesty, moral development, investigating the relationship of one’s mindset and their tendencies to neutralize and/or engage in academically dishonest behavior, and a focus on more qualitative research to investigate multiple aspects of academic dishonesty at all levels.
Jenrette, Don Edwin