Strategies for Enhancing Academic Honesty as an Ethical Concern in E-Learning in Tertiary Institutions: A Philosophical Perspective

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Strategies for Enhancing Academic Honesty as an Ethical Concern in E-Learning in Tertiary Institutions: A Philosophical Perspective

  • Dr Greg Ekeh
  • Dr George C. Okpara
  • Aloysius Ezeanolue
  • 163-174
  • Mar 4, 2024
  • Education

Strategies for Enhancing Academic Honesty as an Ethical Concern in E-Learning in Tertiary Institutions: A Philosophical Perspective

Dr Greg Ekeh, Dr George C. Okpara, Aloysius Ezeanolue

Department of Educational Foundations, Faculty Of Education, Nnamdi Azikiwe University,

Waka, Anambra State – Nigeria

DOI: https://doi.org/10.51244/IJRSI.2024.1102013

Received: 06 December 2023; Accepted: 11 December 2023; Published: 04 March 2024

ABSTRACT

Learning has been part of human existence from time immemorial. In the process of education, the aim of learning is to acquire true knowledge. To achieve this, there is need for academic honesty, an ethical issue, bordering on human conduct. Research findings have shown that academic honesty in e-learning has remained a big challenge among tertiary institution students. This is worrisome, since this level is a gateway to life in the wider society after schooling. Honest students in academics will invariably become honest individuals in the society. For this reason, the paper explored strategies that enhance academic honesty in e-learning, so as to equip learners to contribute to the society through honest ways. The paper aims to instill the consciousness of honesty in learners, and promote high academic standard, competence and self-confidence in tertiary institutions. Methods of conceptual analysis, clarification, description and prescription, as well as review of literature, were adopted for the study. Philosophical perspective set the paper on rationality rather than emotional sentiments. The findings showed that some strategies, such as self-discipline, hard work, imbibing ethical principles, among others, can certainly enhance the practice of honesty in e-learning in tertiary institutions. Conclusively, these were seen as constituting strategies for enhancing academic honesty in e-learning. Consequently, it was suggested that instructors, school counsellors and other stakeholders should ensure that students are helped to practise these strategies. Students themselves are enjoined to cherish honesty in their academic pursuit and avoid short-cuts, as these can only lead to mediocrity and incompetence, to the detriment of the learners, and the society at large.

Keywords: Academic Honesty, Ethical Concern, Philosophical Perspective, Strategy.

INTRODUCTION

The whole history of the human race can be said to be a history of being, learning, knowing and doing. Learning is one the fundamental and indispensable attributes of human beings, and it is as old as humanity itself. Human beings undertake learning in order to acquire knowledge. It is expected that any knowledge acquired must be a true one. This is of particular importance in the process of education. Ever since their creation, human beings have been in constant pursuit of learning in one way or another. At the same time, various ways of making learning easier, more effective and more profitable have also been in constant exploration.  This exploration has been responsible for the emergence of different means and processes of learning, from the ancient times to the present era. For instance, the ancient Rome and Greece used Memory Palace, or Method of Loci (an imaginary location in one’s mind where mnemonic images are stored, for easy recollection and familiarity) to visualize, organize and recall information; the Chinese introduced the abacus (a hand-operated calculating tool which consists of two-dimensional arrangement of slidable beads) in learning mathematics, while the Ethiopians used “duplation” and “mediation” (method of multiplication by doubling numbers until the last point is reached) as a method of multiplication, which required adding and multiplying by twos (Briggs, 2016).

In their striving for education, most of the ancient philosophers tried to maintain an ethical-based teaching and learning. Plato, for instance, maintained a virtues-based eudaemonistic conception of ethics, in which happiness is the highest aim of moral thought and conduct (Frede, Dorothea and Mi-Kyoung in Zalta and Uri, 2023). Over the centuries, learning, in most cases, has been carried out through physical contacts such classroom settings, excursions, field works and laboratory experiments, among others ways. However, in this era of science and technology, electronic mode of learning (e-learning) is rapidly taking the centre-stage. E-learning is also known as online learning or digital learning. According to Lutkevich (2020), e-learning is anywhere, any-time instruction delivered over the internet or a corporate intranet to browser-equipped learners.

Although e-learning is being widely embraced for its advantages over traditional physical classroom, such as enhancing independent self-motivation, cost-effectiveness and greater flexibility, among others, there are lots of concerns about its operations and effectiveness. One of such concerns is how to promote or enhance academic honesty. This falls within the purview of ethics. The activities of e-learning are rooted in human conduct, since human beings are both the agents and receivers of e-learning. Ethical issues are, therefore, very relevant in conducting e-learning. Some of the ethical issues considered in e-learning include computer crimes, computer abuses, data theft, malfunctioning of equipment, errors in the handling and application of data, among others (Eftekhari, 2012). These issues can collectively be viewed as constituting academic dishonesty, in contradistinction to academic honesty. Academic honesty is a globally cherished value in the world of academics. Its practice promotes high academic standards, while the contrary (mediocrity) becomes the case when it is neglected, that is, when academic dishonesty is allowed to thrive.

Recent studies have shown that academic honesty has remained a serious challenge for online courses (McGee, 2013; Peterson, 2019; Wiley, 2020).  However, few studies have considered this as an ethical concern (Kaufman, 2008, Fischman, 2019) and in a philosophical perspective. It is the belief of this paper that philosophical perspective would make it more prescriptive and binding on the stakeholders’ sense of value and responsibility, as well as bring greater reason to bear on it, making it more objective as human act. This is all the more urgent, since the use of technology has apparently warped students’ perception of ethics over time (Lau et al, 2012). Against this backdrop, the paper is set to explore strategies that are certain to enhance academic honesty in e-learning in Nigerian tertiary institutions. Using philosophical methods of conceptual analysis, clarification, description and prescription, and drawing from review of related literature, the paper critically examines the concepts of ethics, honesty, and academic honesty. It goes further to explore the advantages and challenges of academic honesty, as well as strategies to enhance it. The aim of the paper is to contribute to the efforts in instilling the consciousness and practice of honesty in the minds and hearts of learners, and also add to the instructors’ ideas on how to help students in being academically honest, on the basis of ethical values and human reason, especially in matters of e-learning where the students are not within the reach of the instructors’ supervision.

Ethics, Honesty and Academic Honesty

Generally, ethics consists of moral principles guiding a person’s behavior in every sphere of human activities. The first record of ethical thinking is attributed to the ancient Greece. Ethics as a concept is derived from the Greek word “ethos”, meaning character, and from the Latin “mores”, which means customs. Ethics is also referred to as moral philosophy. In this article, ethics is considered from the perspective of philosophy. In this context, ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that involves systemizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior (Encyclopedia of philosophy, 2018). In this perspective, ethics defines what is good for the individual and for society and also determines the nature of duties that people owe themselves, others and one another. (Wex Definitions Team, 2022).

Ethics can also be understood as the guiding framework on how people should conduct themselves in their personal and professional lives. It is anchored on moral reasoning on one’s actions and their consequences. According to Okoro (2009), “a distinctive aspect of human ethics is its emphasis on reasoning. Reasoning is important in human action, since it is what distinguishes man from other living organisms” (p. 352). Ethics applies only to human beings because, among all the creatures of this world, only they are endowed with reason and reasoning capacity. For Armstead, Cummins and Blakeley (2022), ethics is a body of study that focuses on the moral principles that influence human behaviour.

The concern of ethics includes how human beings should live in their interactions and relationships with one another, as well as with their environments. It is concerned with what is morally good and bad, and morally right and wrong. It deals with questions bothering on obligations, responsibilities and justification of human behaviours in various circumstances. According to Singer (2023), the subject of ethics consists of the fundamental issues of practical decision making, and its major concerns include the nature of ultimate value and the standards by which human actions can be judged right or wrong.

The entire import of ethics is that there are some standards of right and wrong, good and bad, applicable to individuals and society at various levels of their relationships. To live up to these standards requires having a moral sense and self-discipline. It also requires making informed decisions. Each person must decide to choose the right thing over the wrong one; to do good and avoid evil, or vice versa. Even to be honest in the academic field is also a matter of decision making. In this regard, it is of paramount importance to understand what honesty is all about, as an ethical concern.

A popular saying, attributed to Benjamin Franklin (1777), has it that honesty is the best policy. The implication is that honesty should be highly esteemed in human thoughts, words and conducts, and that for somebody to make being honest their policy, that is, their rule and guide in life, is the best decision to be taken. This being so, it is necessary, as a starting point, to have a clear knowledge of what honesty is, as a concept. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) (2023), honesty means speaking and acting truthfully, showing respect towards others, and having integrity and self-awareness. It means much more than not lying, deceiving, stealing, or cheating. Many centuries back, Shakespeare (c. 1623, act 3, scene 5) had described honesty as an attribute people should leave behind, saying that “no legacy is so rich as honesty”. Honesty is a manifestation of respect for oneself and for others. It is a quality in humans that depicts consistency and sincerity in speech and behaviour, based on values of truth and justice. Honesty is multi-dimensional, for it applies to respect for the truth about the world, facts, persons and ideas.

Honesty is borne within the individual, but is socio-tending in nature. It is characterized by expressing one’s truthful thoughts and feelings, and ensuring that these truths and feelings are effectively communicated (LaFollette & Graham, 1986). It embraces truthful and forthright communication as well as showing trustworthiness to others, such as keeping one’s genuine promises to others (Miller, 2021). Honesty means much more than just thinking, speaking and acting truthfully, or not lying or deceiving. It involves self-respect and being respectful to others. Its foundation is anchored on the individual dignity of every human person. It is the basis of trust in human relationships and social interactions.

From the various concepts explored, it is worthy of note that honesty, though apparently simple as a word, is a complex concept. Its complexity is rooted in the nature of man itself and the diverse circumstances affecting and influencing it. Honesty is properly situated in the domain of human relationships and interactions. It involves being truthful, open, sincere, trustworthy, disciplined, respectful to oneself and to others, self-awareness, and constancy in the pursuit of right living in thought, speech and deeds. Another important thing about honesty is way and context in which information is communicated or action carried out, since it can hurt others’ well-being, despite its overall positivity and benefits. In this regard, Bonnie, William, Claire & Princeton (2022) argue that “the benefits of honesty arise most clearly when people share truthful information in kind and sensitive ways” (p. 4).

Every act of honesty begins with the self. One must be truthful to oneself and stand by it, despite the consequences. It is in this connection that Douglas (in Fishman, 2018) says, “I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence” (p. 4). If honesty, in a general term, is so highly a cherished value, then its worth in the academic world, particularly in higher institutions of learning, cannot be over-emphasized. Every institution of learning is concerned with the creation, preservation and dissemination of knowledge, and not just knowledge, but true knowledge. Without honesty, it is difficult to achieve this.

In the field of education or academic pursuit, the main focus is the acquisition of knowledge, skills and competences that will help the learner to be useful to themselves and the society. In order to achieve this, there has to be strict adherence to honesty, both in principle and practice. This would guarantee that the knowledge, skills and competences being imparted and acquired are based on truth. This underscores the rationale for the cultivation and application of academic honesty, especially in e-learning. Unarguably, the internet has made knowledge easily accessible through its numerous breakthroughs; but it has also created greater opportunities to engage in academic cheating. Hence the need to emphasize academic honesty in the e-learning environments. Grijalva and Kerkvliet (2006) are of the view that since there is no direct interaction between the instructor and the learners in the online episode, the perception is that there will be more abundant cheating here than in a normal classroom setting. According to Vera and Nelson (2007), academic honesty means demonstrating and upholding the highest integrity and honesty in all the academic work that one does. It means doing one’s work without cheating, and not claiming other people’s works as one’s own. This means that academic works require that one be self-confident and hard-working, rather than taking to shortcuts. According to the International Centre for Academic Integrity (2013), academic integrity is a commitment to six fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage.

Sometimes the difficulty in maintaining academic honesty results from lack or inadequate knowledge of behaviours that constitute academic dishonesty, especially in online teaching and learning. In response to this, Watson and Sottile (2010) posit that academic dishonesty in online learning can manifest in the following ways:

Sharing examination answers through text, instant message or phone; submitting another student’s work as one’s own; obtaining test answers from a former student who took the course; purchasing an essay from an ‘essay mill’, and plagiarizing a book or article.

Most institutions of higher learning are very much concerned about academic honesty among their students, and so make some policies in this regard. For instance, Roseburg High School (2022) premised her academic honesty policy on the conviction that academic honesty and personal integrity are fundamental components of a student’s education and character development. In a similar way, Delta State University (2018), in its policy statement, maintains that all students are expected to adhere to the highest academic standards, and that unethical and dishonest behaviour will not be tolerated, and could lead to severe penalties. Academic honesty is desirable and needed at all the levels of education, but it should be more aggressively emphasized and pursued in the universities and other tertiary institutions. This is because this is the level at which learners are assumed to have gained a certain level of maturity that would impel them to be transparent in their academic works, even when they are not under the supervision of an instructor. Moreover, tertiary institutions are the last levels of education after which the learners are thrown into the wider society and labour markets. If they had been academically honest in the course of their studies, there is the likelihood that they will also be honest in relating with people and carrying out their responsibilities wherever they may find themselves after schooling.

Strategies for Enhancing Academic Honesty in E-Learning

In online teaching and learning, it may not be an easy thing to stop cheating in its entirety, but efforts can be made to curtail it to the barest minimum. Many strategies for enhancing academic honesty have been advocated by scholars and educators. Maintaining academic honesty or guarding against academic dishonesty is the responsibility of both the instructors and students, and even the school authority or administration. According to Ericksen (2021), one of the ways for instructors to guard against academic dishonesty is the creation of an honour code. The code outlines academic integrity policies to be followed by the students from the onset of online teaching and learning encounter. They identify ethical and unethical behaviours with regard to academic activities. The same Ericksen is of the view that assignments should be adjusted from residential in-person modality to the online modality. For instance, questions requiring definitions or concepts can be reframed in such a way that students are propelled to bring their own thought to bear on the topic, otherwise they could just surf the internet and get as many definitions and concepts as possible, even without acknowledging the sources. For Holden, Norris and Kuhlmeier (2021), one of the ways school institution can curtail academic dishonesty is that administrators and staff must clearly define what academic honesty/dishonesty is, and the types of behaviour that constitute academic honesty/dishonesty. The reason for this is to let students be aware of their behaviours that are considered academically dishonest, so that they can guard against such.

Explaining the need for ethical behaviours as well as consequences of academic dishonesty will help students to avoid the act (Gibson, Blackwell, Greenwood, Mobley, & Blackwell, 2006). Sometimes, ignorance can lead to cheating in an online learning. When correct information is given to students, it will lessen their tendency to any form of cheating, especially when they know that there are some unpalatable consequences awaiting them in the event of any misconduct.

Students, on their own part, have some responsibilities in ensuring that they are academically honest. In this regard, the Department of Student Rights and Community Standards, Brandeis University (2023), is of the view that students should attend classes or lectures, as this gives them first-hand information from lecturers, and provides opportunity for them to learn from experts in various fields of learning. They should also ask questions when they are in doubt, especially in the course of teaching and when assignments are given. This will arm them with more knowledge and fill them with self-confidence.

The Department also stressed the need for students to be proactive and plan their academic activities at the onset of the academic session or semester, as well as be consistent in sticking to their plans and study schedules. It is also important for students to make themselves familiar and acquainted with authentic sources of information and knowledge, such as the school library, internet sources and academic advisers. These will help them in effective studies, examination preparations, and writing of papers for publications.

In every organized lecture, be it in the physical classroom or online delivery, there are rules and regulations that guide students. It is important that they pay adequate attention to these. Whether it is in examinations or assignments, obeying instructions is most likely to ward off any temptation or attempt to cheat, and also douse suspicion from instructors or supervisors.

Again, it is said that it is good to give honour to whom honour is due. In the academic world, no one knows it all, and no one does it all. Students can make use of others’ works and ideas. In a situation like this, those whose works or ideas were used must be duly acknowledged. Furthermore, students should be open to their teachers, especially when they have problems that would adversely affect their academic pursuit and performance. They should avoid cutting corners or engaging in crafty devices to wangle their way out.

Finally, students should form the habit of reflective thinking and value assimilation. They should reflect on their reason for being in school in the first place, what they want to be in future, and the society’s expectation of them. This will help them to resist any urge or influence to engage in any form of academic dishonesty.

There is no doubt that the major stakeholders in maintaining academic honesty are the school institutions, teachers and students. When these three groups play their expected roles and carry out their responsibilities adequately, it is hoped that academic dishonesty will be minimized and academic honesty enhanced. A lot of advantages can be reaped from this, including the reputation of the school, joy of the teachers, students’ future success and welfare of the society at large. Of these three, greater responsibility rests on the school institution. It has a major role to play by formulating a strong academic honesty policy and programs for the purpose of enhancing integrity (Whitley & Keith-Spiegel, 2001).

Instructors themselves have roles to play in enhancing academic honesty. They are expected to help students to understand the expectations for academic honesty and its value. To this end, Grandinetti (n.d.) suggests an integrated approach for instructors. This approach includes designing of assignments, deterrence from cheating and detection of academic dishonesty with technology. In designing assignments, available points in the course should be spread in a variety of ways, providing multiple ways such as quizzes, group projects, presentations, involving low and high stakes, promoting motivation, among others. This will enable students to express their understanding of the course in a variety of ways. To deter cheating, the instructor should state in clear terms the conducts that constitute academic honesty and dishonesty respectively. In addition to this, students should be helped in finding supportive sources and resources as well as guiding principles in carrying out their assignments. For detection of academic dishonesty, it is advised that instructors make use of technologies such as plagiarism checkers and proctoring. This presupposes that the instructors know the capabilities of such technologies and are familiar with their uses. Students should also be told, in clear terms, the expectations and methods in citing sources in different types of academic works, and the appropriateness of these citations.

Importance of Academic Honesty

Academic honesty centres around six basic values: honesty, trust, respect, fairness, responsibility and courage (ArwArna’out, 2016). Wherever these basic values are maintained in the field of education, there is bound to be progress. According to the International Centre for Academic Integrity (2013), when members of the academic community commit themselves to actualizing these values, the community will flourish. This is one of the advantages or the importance of academic honesty. It brings about progress in the academic community. For Bordia (2022), some of the importance of academic honesty include fostering growth, skill development and knowledge acquisition.

Academic integrity helps students to generate their own ideas, to work hard and to believe in themselves. These are vital ingredients for enhancing their academic growth. Being academically honest will also help them to be original and avoid imitation of others. By being honest and trying their best, students are likely to develop their own skills and potentials, which otherwise would remain latent. Academic pursuit requires some skills, such as reading skills, writing skills, communication skills and research skills, among others. Practising academic honesty will boost the development of these skills in students. Maintaining academic honesty will also add to the knowledge stock of students. School institution is a fertile ground for students to learn, not only with regard to their school courses, but also how to be meaningful individuals in the society. Imbibing academic honesty is one of the key ways of learning to be of value in the society. Knowing that engaging in academic dishonesty jeopardizes their future, students will be more careful to avoid it at all cost.

Some students avoid academic dishonesty out of fear of punishment, but it is even more important for them to do so for the sake of their long-term integrity and that of their institution as well. For Lee (2022), academic honesty is important to students in so many other ways, including supporting learning opportunities, accurate assessment, respect for learning, future work behaviours, among others. It stands to reason that if students pass others’ works as their own, they lose opportunity to learn. This is because they would not commit their minds to such works, since they are not original to then. Opportunity for further knowledge is obstructed, since it is difficult to get feedbacks or corrections from such manipulations. Moreover, acknowledging others’ work properly is a sign of respect, both for the owners of the work and oneself, and this brings honour to learning in general.

Assessment is a major aspect of learning in every school system. If assessment is to be anything to go by, it must be accurate. Academic assessments can come in form of examinations, tests, assignments quizzes, and so on. In a situation where a student turns in a work that is not their own for assessment, an accurate assessment can never be obtained. Any conclusion reached by the assessor based on the work is false, since it does not represent the true academic stand of the student.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Academic honesty has been the focus of many scholars and educational institutions, and so it has been approached from many perspectives, especially in this era of upsurge in e-learning. Holden, Norris and Kuhlmeier (2021) note that adherence to the integrity serves as a reinforcement for the reputation of educational institutions, and students also benefit from this reputation. In spite of this truth, cheating still persists. Even the online learning, which came with the introduction of technology into the school system, is believed to have come with new opportunities foe e-cheating (Harmon and Lambrinos, 2008; King and Case, 2014). To enhance honesty in online learning, Swartz and Cole (2013) suggest that academic institutions should exercise greater responsibility by creating a culture that is intolerant of academic dishonesty, while instructors should emphasize the value of ethics in the learning arena, and be supported to apply penalty to those who violate academic integrity; and then students should be encouraged to apply those ethical values in their academic pursuit. This view is all-inclusive and broad-based, as it involves the key major stakeholders in the process of learning: school institution, instructors and students. Policy making and implementation can greatly enhance integrity by emphasizing same and providing rules and ethical conducts, and instructors’ ability to teach and guide students to cherish, accept and apply academic integrity in their lives (O’Corneell, 2016).

It is important that students be taught to take pride in their works, and also exercise self-control against all tendencies to engage in academic cheating. According to Jensen, Amett, Feldman and Cauffman (2002), the greater the level of self-restraint, the lower the level of acceptance of cheating and cheating behaviours. It is believed that if students are well guided and encouraged, they would be able to all anxieties about their performance, meeting deadlines, having access, equity, or technology issues and expectations of assignments which, according to Lang (2013), goad students into committing academic misconducts.

Online learning and cheating thereof are realities that have been reported by researchers. For instance, a study by Allen and Seaman (2017) has shown that 30% of students in degree-granting United State colleges and universities enrolled in at least one online course, while 44% of respondents reported cheating at least one fully online course (Jaschik & Lederman, 2018).

As educational institutions continue to expand their online learning horizon, the tendency for online cheating continues to pose threats (Allen & Seaman, 2010), and both the institutions and instructors are faced the challenges of finding ways to address the issue so as to maintain academic honesty (Jonson, 2019). With the various technological devices, new ways of cheating surface almost on daily basis, such as downloading materials from the internet and pushing it out as one’s own, unpermitted use of materials, obtaining answers from other students through online means, hiring another person to do one’s online tests or assignments (Jung & Yeom, 2009; Moten et al., 2013).

From the few literatures reviewed, it can be seen that there cheating in online learning is a reality that threatens the success of online learning, and that there is much concern about the ways of curbing it. Most of the views point to the promotion of academic honesty as an effective approach. Some strategies to enhance academic honesty, therefore, have been suggested and advocated by various scholars. It is hoped that these strategies would be all the more potent if the whole picture is considered as an ethical concern from philosophical perspectives, since ethics is a central issue in philosophy.

Philosophical Perspective

There should be an underlying philosophy for academic integrity. In this context, moral philosophy or ethics, in the light of the philosophical school of thought known as perennialism, is of particular relevance with regard to honesty as an ethical issue in online learning. Perennialism, simply stated, is a philosophical thought with the belief that what has stood the test of time is worthwhile or valuable (Blythe, 2009), and therefore should be upheld and cherished. From human experiences over time, it is unarguable that honesty has stood the test, hence the dictum that honesty is the best policy. In philosophical perspective, ethics is categorized as prescriptive ethics, descriptive ethics, applied ethics and meta-ethics, dealing correspondingly with such questions as How should people act (individually and collectively)? What do people think is right? How do people put moral knowledge into practice? What does right mean? This calls for a close examination and re-examination of one’s pattern of doing things, even within the ambience of conventionality (Mastin, 2009).

In the light of the philosophical conception of ethics, honesty as an ethical issue which has stood the test of time, and the perennialists’ emphasis on holding onto that which has stood the test of time as worthwhile and valuable, it can become obvious that philosophical perspective of honesty, especially through the lens of perennialism, is of great significance in enhancing academic honesty in e-learning. The relevance of perennilalism in this context is that it advocates a going back to the objective values which over the years have proved themselves intrinsically worthwhile. Honesty is one of such values. Going back to it, especially in the field of academics (and more so in e-learning) is of a particular urgency in an age where dishonesty is gradually and subtly being accepted as smartness at various levels of the society. In this present era, there is need to once again emphasize the place of moral authority in the process of education.

Since the time of Socrates, philosophers have been working on determining moral authority and ethical behaviours, thereby developing standards by which human actions can be judged and evaluated. Philosophy lays emphasis on the willingness and good intentions to do what one knows to be good. Philosophy perceives ethical behaviour is a product of sound reasoning and goodness in human person, and honesty is one of such behaviours. With its modes of speculation, prescription and analysis, philosophy seeks to understand honesty in its entirety and objectivity as worthwhile in itself. In relation to education, philosophy is interested in honesty. This is because knowledge is central to both education and philosophy, and without practicing academic honesty, it will be difficult to disseminate and acquire true knowledge, on which the progress of the society depends.

The key issue is that teaching and learning revolve around human conduct, which is the concern of ethics. Understanding and handling online learning matters, especially the promotion of academic honesty, from this perspective is very necessary, for the efforts to yield desired results. In education, knowledge acquisition, its development and students’ capabilities to assimilate facts, grasp concepts and perform efficiently in tests and examinations are very important. However, there are more factors at play than these in the process of learning. According to Lovat and Clement (2008), motivation, interest, intrigue, practicality, connection and personal values are the principal elements of education. One of the key issues in personal values is the virtue of honesty.

There are subtle ways in which students engage in academic dishonesty without considering it as a serious matter. These include:

…working on an assignment with others when asked for individual work, getting questions and answers from someone who has already taken a test, copying a few sentences of material without footnoting, fabricating or falsifying lab data, and receiving unauthorized help on an assignment (Hughes & McCabe, 2006, p. 1).

Ordinarily, the above actions can be viewed as being smart by students. But the question is: Are these actions right or wrong, good or bad? Is this how students ought to behave? These are ethical questions, or moral philosophy. In philosophy it is believed, on the authority of Socrates, who is regarded as the father of Western ethics, that people will naturally do what is good if they know what is right, and that bad actions are the result of ignorance (Mastin, 2009). Human, being moral agents, ought to do a deep reflection and make right choices in life, especially in this era of science and technology. Philosophical perspective is both reflective, practical and demonstrative, and can definitely add meaning and value to the technological inputs in education through e-learnig.

The end of education is the well-being of the society. In this regard, Agulanna (in Uduigwomen & Ogbinaka, 2011) argues that:

If the end for which society is formed is the securing of order and social harmony for the people living in it, it follows that the individuals who make up a society need to be educated on how to conduct themselves in order to achieve these aims and ideals (p. 93).

Honesty in academic activities, both on the part of the instructor and student, is very essential in attaining the aims of education, since education itself is a moral enterprise. In this connection, philosophy tries to distinguish between good and bad, right and wrong, just and unjust, what ought to be and what ought not to be.

For centuries, philosophers have been stressing the need for honesty, starting from the self. The Dolphic maxim “know thyself” as written on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi testifies to this. Self-knowledge is the fundament. According to (Carucci, 2023), when we do not know who we are, whether as individuals or corporate entities, fabrication becomes easy, for lack of resonance between identity and the way it is actually embodied makes people prone to distorting the truth. Distortion of truth is one of the banes of the society today. It thus stands to reason that upholding honesty is an urgent need today, and this must come from individuals and organizations. In the light of this, one can agree with Carucci (2023) that if we want individuals and organizations to be a haven of honesty, where we can air our views genuinely, and contribute to robust outcomes, then returning to the foundations of ethics and integrity that philosophers have explored and advocated for centuries remains the best way forward. When this is applied to academic programs in terms of academic honesty, the society will be much better.

CONCLUSION

Since academic honesty remains a core issue in education the world over, no effort or sacrifice made to promote and sustain it should be spared. All the concepts, meanings, interpretations and explanations explored in this study point to the fact that academic honesty is an urgent need in the society, and that instructors, students, school administrations and other stakeholders have roles to play in promoting it. Various strategies, from various viewpoints, have been advocated to achieve this.

All the strategies discussed in this paper are considered as appropriate in enhancing academic honesty. It is the conclusion of the paper that treating these strategies as ethical concerns will yield greater fruits in the academic field, for it hinges the practice of honesty on human conduct, with sense of right and wrong, good and bad, just and unjust, with full conviction and cognizance of the consequences of decisions and actions executed thereof. Moreover, in this concern, honesty is better appreciated for what it is: an intrinsic value, worthwhile in itself.

In addition, considering honesty as an ethical issue from philosophical perspective will add greater vigour, lustre and reasonability to its value.  In philosophical perspective, the practice of honesty (in this context, academic honesty), is anchored on human reason. It is understood as a moral duty which befits humans as rational beings, endowed with the capacity to reason, to understand and to make informed and objective decisions and their subsequent implementations.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Based on the above conclusion, the following suggestions are put forth:

  1. Instructors, school administrators, counsellors and other stakeholders should endeavour to see that students are helped to imbibe these strategies and put them into practice.
  2. Students themselves are enjoined to cherish honesty as an ethical issue in their academic pursuit, with responsibilities and consequences, and so allow their reasons to take the lead. They are to avoid short-cuts, which can only lead to mediocrity and incompetence on their part, and may have long adverse consequences, both on themselves and others.
  3. Instructors, students, school administrators, counsellors and other stakeholders are urged to consider academic honesty as an ethical issue from philosophical perspectives so as to anchor it on human conducts and reasons.
  4. For objectivity and good of the society, all enticements to engage in academic dishonesty of any kind should be vehemently resisted by students.

REFERENCES

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