Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cheating Across Cultures

- From Inside Higher Ed :
...the complaints serve to spotlight some of the particular challenges inherent in addressing issues of academic integrity involving international students, many of whom come to American colleges with different conceptions of cheating. As the number of international students has increased in recent years — and the number of academic misconduct incidents involving international students has risen accordingly — educators have increasingly embraced the need to address academic integrity concerns proactively, recognizing in their actions the various cultural influences that can help cause one to cheat.

Most of the concerns surrounding international students and cheating center around plagiarism, a form of cheating that’s all too common among American undergraduates, some of whom say they were never taught what was legitimate and what wasn’t. But while international students certainly are far from alone in cheating, their circumstances are often unique, and international student advisors and experts cite a whole host of specific reasons why international students might knowingly or unknowingly circumvent the system.

Foremost among them is that the Western style of citing sources isn’t universal: Greenblatt points out that many Asian students, for instance, come from educational systems in which the norm is to repeat back a textbook or a professor verbatim (without a citation), as a sign of respect to the source of knowledge. In collectivist cultures, adds Petra Crosby, director of international student programs and a lecturer in the cross-cultural studies concentration at Carleton College, knowledge is often viewed as a shared endeavor, so “copying” doesn’t always encapsulate the same connotation. Not to mention that knowledge itself can be defined differently, at least as far as what’s common and doesn’t need to be cited: What’s common knowledge in Indiana can, after all, be substantially different than what’s common knowledge in India....

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