When Opportunity Knocks: College Students’ Cheating Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Baylee D. Jenkins, Jonathan M. Golding, Alexis M. Le Grand, Mary M. Levi, Andrea M. Pals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic led to significant, unforeseen changes in classroom instructions, including the evaluation of students. Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate college students’ cheating both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of (a) preponderance of cheating, (b) the factors that may have led to an increase in the amount of cheating, and (c) the underlying reasons for and affective response to cheating. Method: A sample of primarily Psychology majors (N = 214) attending a public land-grant university in the southeastern U.S. voluntarily completed a survey at the end of the Fall 2020 semester. Results: The results showed that the COVID-19 pandemic increased first time cheating, cheating in online classes was higher than that of in-person classes for most types of graded materials, and students are adept and adaptive at dealing with faculty attempts to combat cheating. Students’ primary reasons for cheating were “feeling pressure,” and “pandemic,” and students who had cheated reported feeling “relieved” most often. Conclusion: With the onset of the pandemic and subsequent increase in online instruction, cheating behavior has also increased. Teaching Implications: As online enrollment continues to grow, understanding students’ cheating behavior.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTeaching of Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • COVID-19
  • cheating
  • higher education
  • online education
  • undergraduate psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Psychology (all)


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