A Duke University 2005 survey listed these reasons for first year students decisions NOT to violate academic integrity during their high school years: personal values; respect for teachers; respect for self; fear of consequences; parental values; value of learning; awareness of what constitutes cheating; respect for peers; religious values.
Don McCabe, founder of the Center for Academic Integrity, has identified these reasons for students violating academic integrity: pressure to excel/succeed; rationalizing ['others do it'];le material is trivial/irrelevant; hard courses; unreasonable faculty.
In a number of surveys, it is clear that many students differentiate between trivial or moderate violations and serious violations. Here is a local example: Some years ago the [then] Library Instruction & Orientation Department had a multiple version self-paced library tour, taken by hundreds of first year freshman composition, Univ 101, and Comm 101 students. The 9 exercises were divided between questions that could be answered at computer terminals along the tour [accessing the online catalog] and questions that could only be answered if the students were physically located where they needed to be. Some students chose this innocuous assignment to cheat by trying to answer all of the questions either by sitting at any computer, or by copying from a classmate, oblivious to the fact that we had multiple versions. The booklets were often scored by the student assistants working in the Instruction Office; they were incensed at what their fellow students had done. The office did report these to the teachers. Why did the students do this, instead of taking approximately 30 minutes to complete the tour and exercises, thus allowing the assignment to do what it was supposed to do -- 1) get the students into the library; 2) point out basic locations and resources; 3) introduce them to the still fairly new concept of an online catalog? Laziness, lack of encouragement on the part of the teacher [who distributed these booklets before the students met with a librarian], lack of meaning at that point in their college career. Regardless, it was cheating just as much as if they had falsified their final research paper or copied on an exam.