The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Honest tests show subjects less honest than claimed

By Karen Gavis/se news editor

SE Bistro frequenters may have a little something extra to chat about while enjoying their cup of joe following a recent study conducted by social psychology students.

Employing an educational twist on similar studies, approximately 3 percent of SE students were chosen randomly to complete a short survey while remaining anonymous. Students were asked some general questions regarding age, sex, attendance, etc. However, sprinkled throughout the questionnaire were a few weightier questions related to academic integrity.

Only 9 percent of the students surveyed admitted to being cheaters while almost three times as many (30 percent), reported having witnessed another student cheat.

Research by social psychologists has found that what people say they will do when asked and what they actually do is contradictory, SE psychology instructor Jose Velarde said. For instance, when researchers surveyed a large number of adults, 94 percent claimed to regularly wash their hands after using the restroom. Yet, under observation, people actually washed their hands only 70 percent of the time.

In the SE experiment, the question was asked, “If you found a lost assignment while on campus at TCC, would you turn it in?” The survey also inquired how likely a student would be to walk across campus to turn in a lost paper. Of those surveyed, 67 percent of the students claimed they would be “likely” or “extremely likely” to turn in a lost paper found on campus, and more than half (53 percent) declared they would even walk across campus to turn the paper in.

To test the responses, a week later, 24 identical papers were inconspicuously dropped on SE Campus over a two-day period at six different locations: library, Bistro, bookstore, athletic wing and two academic wings. Each paper had a handwritten, brightly colored note attached explaining how important the paper was, the fact that it was due that day and where it could be turned in.

So how many students were indeed willing to help a student in need? Of the 24 papers, 46 percent (11) were returned.

No papers were returned from the library while the Bistro boasted a 75 percent return rate. The other locations each returned half of the dropped papers. Further research would be needed to determine the cause of contrast in regard to location.

SE librarian Jo Klemm had one explanation for why the papers from the library were not turned in.

“They may have been put in the lost and found.” she said.

However, Velarde said the students had checked in lost and found.

The papers were dropped during four alternate time frames: 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. The highest rate of return coincided with the 5 p.m. drop, which produced a rate of 66 percent returned papers.

“Many students came during my office hours and dropped off assignments they had found. If it was after hours, they would slide them under my door,” department of behavioral and social sciences administrative assistant Lien Hua said. “I remember one student brought in an assignment and wanted to make sure it got to the instructor so the student would get credit for it. The student said she would want someone to do that for her if she dropped her assignment somewhere.”

Velarde designed the study to give students some experience in conducting a research project.

“I think they enjoyed it,” he said.

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