The pursuit of ethical practice in Distance Higher Education assessment in a Business Leadership School


The pursuit of ethical practice in Distance Higher Education assessment in a Business Leadership School


Angelo Nicolaides

UNISA Graduate School of Business Leadership


Global-journal-of-Economics-and-Business-Administration

The pursuit for quality in the learning process in Distance Higher Education is ongoing and continually leading to better ways in which to facilitate learning. It is evident in current literature that high-quality learning outcomes can be achieved by giving students in higher education institutions greater control over their own learning and by engaging in reflective inquiry and enhanced critical thinking within a constructivist paradigm. In the era of open access and digital-based information and communication in which we live, a huge challenge facing higher education is the issue of unethical practices by students. Ensuring academic honesty is a major challenge for traditional classroom teaching, but it is even a more pressing problem for online course-work in which students submit for example, individual assignments and projects. How can unethical student practices be eliminated where the use of information technology is manifest for all learning and instruction?

Academically dishonest behaviour in Distance Higher Education (DHE) institutions is on the rise and manifests in various ways including inter-alia, plagiarism in which students use the work of others and which they fail to disclose through acceptable citation methods or even fail to acknowledge. Many find it expedient to cheat and may even stoop to bribery. There are also instances where students fabricate information and falsify what they present as the fruits of their own labours. Whether in assignments or portfolio work, or other such activities and assessments online, there are cases in which students either offer, or acquire assistance from other parties in their formal academic activities, falsify information, are guilty of misrepresentation and thus act out-of- line from an ethical perspective and demonstrate that they are devoid of ethical practice. It is thus crucial to integrate academic ethics education in all core programmes so that students and also their lecturers’, become conversant with what is expected as an absolute minimum when it comes to academic honesty. Lecturers should also be obligated to immediately report where cases of dishonest activity are evident in student submissions and stern action should be meted out to guilty parties. A carefully crafted moral education approach and well-conceived course design are needed to construct a sound academic culture and promote integrity.

This article discusses what strategies can be utilised by institutions to minimize common unethical practices and suggests some of the reasons why students opt to be dishonest in the digital era. It also suggests what academics can do to mitigate unethical academic practices in online distance higher education.


Keywords: Ethics, online learning, asynchronous learning, distance higher education (DHE), academic integrity, adult learners

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How to cite this article:
Angelo Nicolaides. The pursuit of ethical practice in Distance Higher Education assessment in a Business Leadership School. Global journal of Economics and Business Administration, 2018, 3: 8. DOI: 10.28933/gjeba-2018-01-1802


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