Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Cheating (Education)--Malawi; High schools--Malawi--Examinations;


Examination has been generally accepted as the best means of assessment. Unfortunately, this all-important means of assessing students has become ineffective since all forms of examination malpractice have been introduced into the system. While such cheating on examinations is quite common and as a victimless crime may not be considered very serious, cheating on high stakes examinations assumes greater importance.

The purpose of this study was to examine perceived causes and methods of examination malpractice in the Malawian education system. The target population of the study comprised teachers, including head teachers, and students at secondary school level in South East Education Division (SEED) in Malawi from ten secondary schools in the division. This stratified random sample study included 200 respondents. As selfdeveloped questionnaire, which adapted and combined items from four instruments previously used to investigate causes and forms of cheating in examinations by students (Achio, Ameko, Kutsanedzie, Alhassan, & Ganaa, 2012; Adeyemi, 2010; Akaranga & Ongong, 2013; Petters & Okon, 2014), was used to collect data for this study. In addition, qualitative data was collected through focus groups to help with the triangulation of all of the data sources in order to improve the validity and credibility of the research findings (Denzin, 1978; Patton, 1990). The quantitative data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPPS) version 16.0. Importance Performance Analysis (IPA) was also conducted. The qualitative data was analyzed by themes using open coding, axial, and selective coding processes.

The findings of the study indicated various causes and methods of examination malpractice. For example, perceived student-related causes include laziness to work hard, and the desire among students to pass examinations at all costs. Examples of perceived teacher/examination official-related causes include insufficient teacher preparation for examinations, and inadequate coverage of the syllabus. Furthermore, examples of student-related methods of cheating include bringing prepared answers to examination halls, and writing on body parts. Examples of teacher/examination official-related methods of cheating include school authorities colluding with examination officials to assist students, and leakage examination papers.

The causes participants identified are but symptoms of the collapsing system of education, which is particularly due to widespread corruption and poor civil service delivery. While the blame can squarely be put on students, the government and the teachers are also implicated. The government is to blame for not creating a conducive and favorable teaching and learning environment and for failing to reinforce the teaching ethics which have resulted in teachers behaving irresponsibly. To begin to tackle the problem of student cheating, educational leaders need to look at the issue holistically. Using Bolman and Deal’s (1997) approach to change can inform newer, bolder, and more coherent strategies that can help to curb cheating. Acknowledging student cheating as corruption rather than as simple misbehavior will generate strategies that are less about managing cheating and more about institutionalizing academic integrity. Attention, therefore, needs to be given to strengthening and restoring a culture of integrity by heightening public awareness of the effects of fraud and corruption.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Educational Leadership and Postsecondary Education

First Advisor

Susan Alborn-Yilek, Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Kathleen Scholl, Co-Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (xvi, 281 pages)



File Format