Theory, O Theory

My ARP is titled “Managing Academic Integrity Within Post-Secondary Online Education”. To provide you with some context, my overarching research question is: What factors should be considered in order to create a post-secondary online environment with academic integrity?

There are three theoretical frameworks I am looking at further exploring: the Social Cognitive Theory, the Self-Efficacy Theory, and the Community of Inquiry Framework. Academic integrity is not a new concept for educators. However, with the rise of technology in post-secondary education, it is important to consider the impact technology is having on academic integrity. The ability to access information is easier and faster than ever, making this issue surrounding academic integrity more apparent.

The Social Cognitive Theory: Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) would be explored as the theoretical framework to understand students’ varying perceptions of and justification for cheating” (Burnett, Enyeart Smith, & Wessel, 2016).

The Self-Efficacy Theory: Bandura’s theory of Self-Efficacy is based on one’s own beliefs and their ability to succeed. This theory would be explored as a predictor of academic integrity (Baran & Jonason, 2020).

The Community of Inquiry Framework: The Community of Inquiry (CoI) Framework would be explored in order to understand the link between CoI, or the quality of course, and academic integrity (Garrison, 2013).

Questions Regarding Frameworks:

  • Are the SCT, Self-Efficacy theory, and CoI appropriate theories and frameworks in reference to my research question?
  • Do you see the opportunity to implement the use of other theories to aid in creating an online post-secondary environment with academic integrity?

Thank you for your time and I look forward to seeing your comments and feedback.


Baran, L., & Jonason, P. (2020, August 31). Academic dishonesty among university students: The roles of the psychopathy, motivation, and self-efficacy. Retrieved from

Burnett, A.J., Enyeart Smith, T.M. & Wessel, M.T. (2016). Use of the Social Cognitive Theory to Frame University Students’ Perceptions of Cheating. J Acad Ethics 14, 49–69.

Garrison, D. R. (2013). Theoretical foundations and epistemological insights of the community of inquiry. In Akyol, Z., & Garrison, D. R. (Eds.), Educational Communities of Inquiry: Theoretical Framework, Research and Practice (pp. 1-11). http://doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-2110-7.ch001

2 thoughts to “Theory, O Theory”

  1. Hi Leigha,
    The hot button around our virtual water cooler as of late has been academic integrity. Needless to say there are many opinions and few constructive solutions. At risk of sounding like a broken record I have been advocating for moving away from the traditional exam style of evaluation to alternative means of assessment like students demonstrating understanding and learning in a practical sense. In my past I’ve had students in my courses with various physical constraints around their personal mobility. This forced me to assess their learning and understanding using verbal storytelling and detailed expressions of methodologies.
    I think with an eye towards identifying factors that will lead to attaining academic integrity in a program, your identified TF would provide some key insight. Both CoI and SCT contain strong influences stemming from social components. You could examine the influence of this social community on integrity.
    If this social connection was developed to encourage a sense of answering to your peers within the community this could offer some positive learning. Possibly it could be used as a lever to ensure honesty and integrity among the members. Or at least an examination of methodologies that could be used to create a sense of honor among the cohort.
    Self-efficacy will play a key role in this too as a person can justify many things to suit their personal agenda. Possibly a way to identify a pedagogically sound approach to encourage the development of a personal code of conduct among the community would be interesting too.
    I look forward to see where you take this.

  2. Great choices to explore Leigha. You will need to limit it ideally to just one. At the masters level we normally see one TF, sometimes two; at the PhD level we usually see two and sometimes three. So, I would encourage you to critically assess each of these not in terms of your research questions – remember that a TF is a background piece – it’s where your research then steps off from. If you are wanting to explore one of these more and understand it more, then that one (or two) shouldn’t be a TF for you. I think that since you are looking at online communities, perhaps the CoI might not be a TF, but rather might be part of your research – you may want to look at how a CoI might be used to help build that online community for example. None of the TFs should be ‘explored’ in your research — which ever you choose needs to be that stepping off point. For example, if you were to use Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy then you would be acknowledging that this is ‘real and valid’ – you would describe it, and your research would step off from there – you wouldn’t really be exploring it as predictor of academic integrity, but you might acknowledge that from that background piece that this is a predictor and, given that, your research then looks at ….. (however that connects)

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