The Effect of Enrollment Status on Plagiarism Among Traditional and Non-Traditional Students

Robert Roth

Document Type Article


Previous research has consistently shown that plagiarism in higher education exists. Most of the previous research had measured the number of incidents of plagiarism at different institutions of higher learning. Recently, research has tried to identify incidents of plagiarism in relation to student demographics or academic discipline. With the increase in older adults returning to school and the advancements in distance education, there is a need to understand whether acts of plagiarism vary by student status (i.e., traditional versus non-traditional enrollment). The purpose of this research was to examine incidents of plagiarism among traditional and non-traditional undergraduate students. Five thousand randomly-selected undergraduate students from a large public university in the southeastern United States were invited through their university email account to participate in a 20-question survey. Questions 1-10 were used to collect data on traditional or non-traditional demographics. Questions 11-18 were taken from McCabe’s Academic Integrity Survey. Questions 19 and 20 were designed to collect data on the participants’ understanding of plagiarism. A t-test was used to analyze the data to determine whether there was a statistically significant difference in reported instances of intentional plagiarism and unintentional plagiarism between traditional and non-traditional undergraduate students. The research showed that there was no statistically significant difference between reported instances of plagiarism between traditional undergraduate students and non-traditional undergraduate students. However, there was a significant difference between reported acts of intentional plagiarism and unintentional plagiarism with both groups reporting higher instances of unintentional plagiarism. Further research focusing on intentional and unintentional plagiarism is necessary to better understand student behavior and assist school faculty and administrators in addressing and preventing such acts.