School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy


Leldon W. Nichols


Plagiarism, Academic Misconduct, First-generation College Student


Education | Educational Psychology


This quantitative, causal-comparative study examines differences in attitudes and subjective norms between first- and continuing-generation college students toward plagiarism. Research studies have reported that up to 90% of college students admitted having committed plagiarism. Plagiarism harms the student who cheats, the reputation of the school, and all associated. First-generation college students experience greater challenges in their first years of college than their continuing-generation peers and may be more at risk for resorting to plagiarism. The researcher employed the Attitude Toward Plagiarism Questionnaire (Cronbach’s score of .79) to measure attitudes and norms toward plagiarism. The findings from the administration form the basis of determining if a causal relationship exists between first-generation college student status and having positive attitudes, negative attitudes, and social norms toward plagiarism. The questionnaire was administered to 130 students enrolled in undergraduate general studies classes at a university in the south-central United States. The data were analyzed via an examination of change for each dependent variable against the independent variables of college generation status and gender. The analysis of data reveals that first-generation and female college students appear to exhibit less positive and more negative attitudes and subjective norms toward plagiarism, but not to a statistically significant level. Based on these findings, universities need to support all incoming students by educating them on plagiarism and introducing academic support structures to ease their transition into college as part of their orientation programs.