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June 26, 2018 Tuesday 04:33:42 PM IST

How Easily and Readily Students Fabricate Excuses

Teacher Insights

When students are unable to comply with some aspect of an academic task (e.g. due date, assignment length, quality of work), there is potential for them to communicate reasons as to why they were unable to complete the task to their instructor. At this point the students have a choice, in which case they can either provide legitimate reasons for not being able to complete or to submit their coursework, or they can communicate something which is a deliberate attempt to deceive the instructor. 

A student may communicate information designed to deceive or construct a fraudulent claim to an instructor in order to avoid the undesirable consequences (e.g. a bad grade that may hurt the student’s overall standing in a class) of not complying with the academic task. Roig and Caso (2005) found that the frequency of which providing fraudulent claims occurs in an academic environment is approximately equal to, if not greater than, more commonly identified forms of academic dishonesty such as cheating and plagiarism. Ferrari et al. (1998) indicated that fraudulent claim making was utilized by as many as 70% of American college students. However, this phenomenon has received limited empirical attention in recent time in comparison to other forms of academically dishonest behavior.

Participants, 319 undergraduate students, completed the study online via the online survey-hosting website SurveyMonkey

The study found that family emergency was reported as the claim students would be most likely to utilize when faced with a potential situation to report a fraudulent claim in order to gain an extension on an assignment. The results suggest that students perceive family emergency as more believable by an instructor than the other claim types, and they also expressed higher confidence in claims about personal illness and computer troubles than did not understand an assignment. It is worthwhile to note that while participants reported fraudulent claims, a number of participants also indicated that they would tell the truth to their instructor when asking for an extension. However, participants reporting the truth expressed less confidence that the instructor would grant them an extension.


The study also found that individuals do engage in reporting claims in an attempt to deceive their instructor even when motivated by academic tasks with low academic consequences and, possibly more alarmingly, that many students possess great confidence in their abilities to “get away with” reporting fraudulent claims.

(Indebted to various sources)


How far do we think about the reason behind a kid's lie?