Original Research

Evaluation of information ethical issues among undergraduate students: An exploratory study

Liezel Cilliers
SA Journal of Information Management | Vol 19, No 1 | a767 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v19i1.767 | © 2017 Liezel Cilliers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 May 2016 | Published: 30 January 2017

About the author(s)

Liezel Cilliers, Department of Information Systems, University of Fort Hare, South Africa

Share this article

Bookmark and Share


Background: Higher education is increasingly making use of information and communication technology (ICT) to deliver educational services. Young adults at higher educational institutions are also making use of ICTs in their daily lives but are not taught how to do so ethically. Software piracy, plagiarism and cheating, while making use of ICTs, are the most common ethical dilemmas that will face digital natives.

Objective: The purpose of this article was to investigate information ethics of young adults at a higher education institution in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.

Method: This study made use of a positive, quantitative survey approach. A closed-ended questionnaire was distributed to a group of 312 first-year students, who had registered for a computer literacy class. A response rate of 69.2% was recorded, resulting in 216 students participating in the study. The results were analysed using descriptive and inferential (t-tests) statistics in SPSS V22.

Results: The results indicated that plagiarism is a problem among first-year students, and elements of authorship should be included in the curriculum. Students understood what software piracy was but did not think it was wrong to copy software from the Internet. Finally, the students understood that cheating, while making use of technology, is wrong and should be avoided.

Conclusion: The recommendation of the study then is that information ethics must be included in the undergraduate curriculum in order to prepare students to deal with these ethical problems.


dishonesty; higher education; information ethics; information and communication technology; plagiarism; software piracy


Total abstract views: 5424
Total article views: 6006

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.