In higher education in New Zealand, there is a burgeoning interest in, and concern with, the way students conduct themselves in their learning practices. Engagement in academically honest and dishonest behaviours is a crucial area of study within higher education. To operationalize effective teaching and assessment, it is critically important to consider how different ethnic groups operate within the learning environment when preparing for, and completing, assessments. The present study investigated differences between two ethnic groups studying in New Zealand (Asian and European) with respect to their disclosures of academic dishonesty and engagement with ethical learning experiences (ELE). Responses from 312 pharmacy and medical students were analysed in this study. A questionnaire was designed to elicit responses about engagement in academic dishonesty and ELEs. The findings emphasise that there were low rates of engagement in academically dishonest behaviours by both groups and there were no differences in disclosure of cheating and ELE. The findings showed small but significant differences between Asian and European students with respect to disclosure in the areas of copying and collusion. Subtle interactions were also noted for ethnicity and year of study, and ethnicity and gender, indicating that later year students diverged more than earlier year students and differences were more apparent amongst male students. Lastly, the findings showed that those students who read the student code of conduct were more likely to engage in academically ‘honest’ behaviours. These findings have implications for educationalists throughout the world, and it is possible that the hidden curriculum is playing a strong role in reframing the notion and practice of ethical conduct.
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