Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cheating on a Cross-Cultural Basis

American students abroad learn a variety of differences between the U.S. system of higher education and those of their host countries. That includes differing ideas on what constitutes academic dishonesty and what schools should do about it.

Wednesday’s meeting of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers in Chicago included a session on “‘Cheating’ or ‘Sharing’? Academic Ethics Across Cultures.” Inside Higher Education’s Doug Lederman has a full story at that site's Thursday edition.

Plagiarism is seen as a growing problem in American universities, where some believe the practice has reached epidemic proportions. But AACRAO members heard Opal Leeman Bartzis, field director for Butler University’s Institute for Study Abroad, say Wednesday that practices viewed as taboo stateside aren’t necessarily viewed that way in other countries.
[T]he reality [is] that many countries draw the line between collaboration and cheating, for instance, in very different places. In Germany, sharing of answers is common, and not sharing is considered “selfish” and even taboo, said Bartzis. In Russia, she said, students openly share notes and answers, and in many former Soviet states, instructors routinely expect bribes for grades.
One story shared in the panel concerned an American political science student who attended an institution in Santiago, Chile, for a term. The student submitted samples of her work to her home university, as the university required of students seeking study abroad credit. But the department chair, alarmed at the lax documentation of one paper, refused to accept the work for credit — even though the paper had been evaluated well in Chile.

Attendees at the AACRAO panel faulted the chair’s actions and said the home university should have accepted the work because it met the standards of the host institution.

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