A systemic model of academic (mis)conduct to curb cheating in higher education

Author(s) : Alle, Scott E.; Kizilcec, René F.

Imprint : 2023

Series : Higher Education

Scientific and technological advancements over the last three decades have failed to reduce the widespread prevalence of academic dishonesty in higher education, in large part because institutional barriers prevent faculty from adopting existing tools to curb cheating. We conducted a systematic literature review of research on cheating and found that the majority of studies propose new tools without advancing theory or even utilizing existing theory. Although some studies note the systemic nature of academic misconduct, the academic integrity literature requires a robust theoretical framework to model its systemic nature and derive practical strategies. Building on theory from several domains, we propose a systemic model of academic (mis)conduct which predicts group-level effects on students and offers practical guidance for faculty overcoming institutional barriers to curb cheating. We leverage game theory for useful models of systemic, group-level phenomena in this context, and we leverage education reform literature for insights on how to support instructors’ adoption of new tools. Our model, the spectrum of academic conduct, identifies trust as a single dimension governing both cheating behaviors and productive learning behaviors. Integrating insights from pedagogy, conflict management, and organizational psychology, we discuss multiple practical strategies to lower students’ opportunity, motivation, and rationalization to cheat.

  • Academic fraud, Cheating, Higher education