On the Optimality of Escalating Penalties for Repeat Offenses Against the Academic Honor Code
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Although academic dishonesty has a long history in academia, its pervasiveness has recently reached an alarming level. Academic dishonesty not only undermines the purpose of education and the assessment process but also threatens the creditability of academic records. We propose a framework for analysing students’ behaviour with respect to academic policies and honour codes. We draw an analogy between law enforcement and academic integrity enforcement and highlight similarities and differences. The proposed framework captures major determinants of academic dishonesty reported in the literature, namely detection probability, punishment severity, class average and record of academic deviance. The framework models both students’ development of nonacademic skills to improve their grades and teaching assistants’ development of detection skills, which both affect the detection probability. Our analysis demonstrates that the optimality of escalating penalties is conditional on the offenders and academic policy enforcers learning. Use-case scenarios are presented to facilitate the implementation of our results in classrooms.