Georgetown University is undeniably a global university. With over 3,000 international students and 500 international professors, researchers and staff, our international character is a source of immense pride. With this pride comes a responsibility to recognize the diversity our international students bring to the classroom and create an atmosphere of respect and transparency that will ensure the success of all students.
The following 5 tips were created to help faculty recognize and address cultural variations in our classrooms. Please click on the headings for more information on each topic.
There is no global standard for academic integrity and Western citation practices are not universal. Nonetheless, Georgetown’s standards prevail for all students.
a) Language and cultural barriers may make it difficult for international students to understand the university policy and know how to implement it.
b) Cultural norms inform what is considered: “common knowledge” or knowledge that is known by everyone or nearly everyone, “general knowledge” which is field specific, and “conventional wisdom” which is often incorrect. In these situations, when to cite can be unclear, but it’s better to cite than not.
c) While cheating is wrong in all cultures, ideas about collaboration and its role in cheating may differ from culture to culture including, e.g., ways of doing business, and other professional relationships.
d) Since international students may tend to believe that the professor is the ultimate authority in his/her classroom, the best guidance comes from professors. While professors should refer apparent violations to the Honor Council, professors can help international students by moving beyond procedures and seeking to clarify and educate whenever possible.
e) Articulate academic integrity expectations both verbally and in writing (syllabus and instructions for assignments).
f) U.S. standards of academic integrity and Georgetown’s Standards of Conduct (see #5), are not better or worse than those in other cultures. However, this is the standard rigorously enforced in the Georgetown classroom. These are the standards a degree candidate at Georgetown must follow.
Students want to succeed and intend to do their best work with the utmost integrity.
a) Students should be held accountable for even small breaches of academic integrity so you never reach a disastrous episode. Small violations will serve as teaching moments and will show students that there are real consequences.
b) It is helpful to reiterate academic honesty expectations prior to exams and research paper deadlines.
c) Many graduate students are stressed, and faculty can help by identifying resources: Library, CAPS, ARC, Writing Center, Meditation classes, and the Language Exchange Program, among others.
d) The pressure to cheat should be addressed directly. Cheating ultimately means cheating oneself of an education, and advancing fairly.
e) Students who wish to check themselves to ensure the highest standards of work should ask instructors to review drafts, citations, paraphrasing and be encouraged to use all resources available, including software like turnitin.com
f) Reach out to students to encourage questions for clarification through in-class questions, one-to-one meetings during office hours, email messages to professors, and TA sessions. The concept of asking for feedback on draft papers or understanding how to use office hours may be unclear in certain cultures.
Provide various kinds of assistance to help students be better students. Offer both understandable guidelines, positive examples, and clearly recognized acceptable and unacceptable behaviors and consequences.
a) Clearly outline what is prohibited in the classroom. It is helpful to list specific examples: e.g., re-using papers or portions of their own papers from other classes without permission, buying papers, exams, discussing take home exam questions, speaking with colleagues during an exam – especially in home country language, failing to use citations, etc.
b) Discourage certain non-authoritative websites (e.g., what’s the value, if any, of Wikipedia and other non-authoritative sites and resources) which, if used, must be cited.
c) Define specifically unapproved styles of citations.
d) Offer examples of good paraphrase vs. quotation.
e) Define when tutoring can actually be cheating.
f) Define the guidelines for collaborative and other group work.
g) Clarify what a good draft paper looks like when it will be submitted for credit, and whether complete footnotes are expected.
h) Provide basic instructions on note-taking, file organization, library resources, software that helps the student get organized.
Encourage integration of Georgetown standards in and outside the classroom so that Georgetown practices become the norm.
a) When creating groups for group work, assign students to groups so that they reflect the diversity of the classroom and to ensure international students must interact with Americans. American students may help enforce academic integrity standards.
b) Small group discussions help international students gain confidence in their English skills. Even the students scoring the highest TOEFL scores need a period of adjustment to keep up with classroom lectures and discussions.
c) Stakes are high in the classroom – especially when the professor asks questions from the front of the class. If students are encouraged to interact in a lower stakes environment, they will adjust more easily to US classroom expectations.
Making students comfortable in the classroom may help avoid academic integrity violations
a) International student body language may not be easily read: Confusion, contentment, distress may not be visible in the same way as they are with domestic students. Silence does not always mean boredom or disengagement. It may mean respect or focused concentration.
b) Response times may vary from the domestic norm: some international students may need 5-10 seconds to respond in contrast to American students whose normal wait time is about 1 second. Students may need time to think and prepare their response.
c) References to American pop culture, humor, puns, and sarcasm may unconsciously exclude non-US students. The more they feel part of the classroom experience, the less they will want to jeopardize their relationships with academic dishonesty.
d) Some students may not be accustomed to dialogue in the classroom. Some may never have been asked to share opinions in front of a class – even in their own language. Students who are uncomfortable in the classroom may feel alienated from the community and may be more likely to violate the Georgetown Honor System and its standards of academic integrity.
Without regard to motive, student conduct that is academically dishonest, evidence lack of academic integrity or trustworthiness, or unfairly impinges upon the intellectual rights and privileges of others is prohibited. A non-exhaustive list of prohibited conduct includes:
A. Cheating on Exams and Other Assignments
Cheating is the use or attempted use of unauthorized materials, information, study aids, or unauthorized collaboration on in-class examinations, take-home examinations, or other academic exercises. It is the responsibility of the student to consult with the professor concerning what constitutes permissible collaboration. Cheating or assisting another student to cheat in connection with an examination or assignment is academic fraud.
B. Committing Plagiarism
Plagiarism, in any of its forms, and whether intentional or unintentional, violates standards of academic integrity. Plagiarism is the act of passing off as one’s own the ideas or writings of another (see "What is Plagiarism?"). While different academic disciplines have different modes for attributing credit, all recognize and value the contributions of individuals to the general corpus of knowledge and expertise. Students are responsible for educating themselves as to the proper mode of attributing credit in any course or field. Faculty may use various methods to assess the originality of students' work. For example, faculty may submit a student's work to electronic search engines, including Turnitin.com, a service to which the Honor Council and the Provost subscribe. Note that plagiarism can be said to have occurred without any affirmative showing that a student’s use of another’s work was intentional.
C. Using False Citations
False citation is academic fraud. False citation is the attribution of intellectual property to an incorrect or fabricated source with the intention to deceive. False attribution seriously undermines the integrity of the academic enterprise by severing a chain of ideas which should be traceable link by link.
D. Submitting Work for Multiple Purposes
Students are not permitted to submit their own work (in identical or similar form) for multiple purposes without the prior and explicit approval of all faculty members to whom the work will be submitted. This includes work first produced in connection with classes at either Georgetown or other institutions attended by the student.
E. Submitting False Data
The submission of false data is academic fraud. False data are data that have been fabricated, altered, or contrived in such a way as to be deliberately misleading.
F. Falsifying Academic Documentation
Any attempt to forge or alter academic documentation (including transcripts, letters of recommendation, certificates of enrollment or good standing, registration forms, and medical certification of absence) concerning oneself or others is academic fraud.
G. Abuse of Library Privileges
All attempts to deprive others of equal access to library materials constitute a violation of academic integrity. This includes the sequestering of library materials for the use of an individual or group; a willful or repeated failure to respond to recall notices; and the removal or attempts to remove library materials from any University library without authorization. Defacing, theft, or destruction of books and articles or other library materials that serve to deprive others of equal access to these materials also constitutes a violation of academic integrity.
H. Abuse of Shared Electronic Media
Malicious actions that deprive others of equal access to shared electronic media used for academic purposes constitute a violation of the Honor System. This includes efforts that result in the damage or sabotage of campus computer systems.