Why students engage in cyber-cheating through a collective movement: A case of deviance and collusion


The use of social networking sites (SNS) such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube has contributed to improving teaching and learning in contemporary educational systems. Unfortunately, online social networks are among the many emerging technology artefacts that introduce new and potentially serious risks to academic environments and therefore have also been credited with the increased prevalence of academic cheating, or cyber-cheating, among students. Recent media attention has focused on how social media has added another medium that can facilitate many collective movements, such as recent uprisings in the Arab world. However, limited research focus has been afforded to the role SNS plays in the pervasiveness of cheating in non-Western cultural settings. Given the continuing growth in social media and advanced technologies, it is necessary to explore and understand academic cheating in the era of digital technology and cultural complexity.

In this research, we conduct a case study of ‘Tasribat’, a Facebook page that facilitates cyber-cheating among certain social groups of students in Morocco. Using an interpretive case study approach, we explore why students collectively engage in cyber-cheating. We leverage both interviews as well digital footprints to explore this collective cheating movement on Facebook. We focus on the intertwined relationship between individual and collective cyber-cheating behaviours with an emphasis on ethical and cultural complexity. The paper’s major contribution resides in its analysis and conceptualisation through our emerging model—the Collective Action Cyber-Cheating Model—that integrates collective action and social learning theories. We conclude by discussing this study’s contributions to research and practice and its associated future research opportunities.


Cyber-cheating; Computer-mediated communication; Pedagogical issues; Social networking sites; Qualitative