Academic journal article Journal of International Students

The Cultural Elements of Academic Honesty

Academic journal article Journal of International Students

The Cultural Elements of Academic Honesty

Article excerpt

Students in higher education are becoming increasingly mobile. Worldwide, in 2000, approximately 2 million students were enrolled in institutions of higher education outside their own countries. That figure doubled to more than 4.5 million by 2012 (OECD, 2014). In the United States, for the 2013/2014 school year, approximately 886,000 international students enrolled in U. S. American schools. Of that number, more than 530,000 students came from Asian countries (Institute of International Education, 2015).

The growing enrollment of international students in the United States is receiving prominent attention as the media highlights the financial benefits of foreign students willing to pay out-of-state tuition to universities struggling with budget cuts (Lewin, 2012). Increasing international student populations on campus also foster concerns for the challenges of meeting their needs. Lipson (2008) advised international students intent on studying in the United States and Canada that other than English proficiency, the two issues international students face that affect their success in North American academics are understanding the freedom to express their own opinions in class and knowing what constitutes academic honesty at their host universities. For students from a society where individualism is frowned upon and students may study by copying information from experts, academic honesty as defined by a host institution may be a difficult concept to grasp (Gu, 2010; Kim, 2011; Leki, 2006; Liao & Tseng, 2010; Sato & Hodge, 2009; Shi, 2006).

Universities and institutions of higher learning differ in how they address plagiarism, who is responsible for enforcing policies, and which learning practices are considered academically dishonest (Gallant, 2008; Jamieson, 2008; Pecorari, 2008). International students may arrive in their host country with little knowledge of concepts or the unwritten practices of their new academic culture (Chen & Van Ullen, 2011; Holmes, 2004). Though students may be familiar with the copyright laws of their own countries, they may not be familiar with the laws of their host country or the plagiarism policies of the university they are attending (Craig, Federici, & Buehler, 2010). When international students come from an educational system where they are expected to quote their teacher's opinions or where knowledge content has received more emphasis than knowledge delivery, complications may arise (Gu, 2010; Song-Turner, 2008). If international students have had limited experience writing in English, they may need special help to avoid plagiarism and its consequences (Amsberry, 2010a; Chen & Van Ullen, 2011; Pecorari, 2008).

This study began from a desire to provide the Asian graduate participants an opportunity to increase their knowledge of their host university's concept of academic honesty since graduate students are not required to complete an academic integrity tutorial at the research site. By assessing the influence of an academic honesty workshop that was taught from a cultural perspective, this study responded to a gap in the literature concerning the benefits of cultural workshops in helping Asian international students understand their host university's concept of academic honesty. This study also contributed to our knowledge concerning the importance of helping international students understand their host university's expectations.


According to the Merriam-Webster (2015) dictionary, the word "plagiarism" means "the act of using another person's work or ideas without giving credit to that person." The Oxford (2016) dictionary includes two acts in its definition of plagiarism, not only taking the words or ideas of another, but also "passing them off as one's own." This latter definition points out a conflict in the use of the term "plagiarism" to refer to all incidents of textual borrowing. Some authors are questioning the use of one term to describe those who intend to deceive and those who are simply unfamiliar with acceptable writing practices (Amsberry, 2010b; Holmes, 2004; Pecorari, 2008). …

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