Working with Multilingual Learners

‌Academic Integrity and Plagiarism 


There is ongoing debate about how to deal with this issue, and there are no easy solutions. As this issue is related to cultural differences, you may want to view the student interview in which a student talks about her cultural background and think about how students from cultures like this view referencing and citation.

Two video clips showing how an instructor deals with plagiarism are also included. The first one is prefaced by a brief interview with a student and is followed by an instructor explaining the concept of academic honesty to a class. The second video clip gives cultural background that explains why students find the concepts of academic honesty and plagiarism so confusing. It shows the same instructor introducing these concepts in a different way.

Video #1 - Culturally Diverse Learners: Academic Standards, Academic Integrity, and Plagiarism

What constitutes knowledge? The following video clip shows a student from China who talks about the concept of sharing in China and the cultural reasons behind it.

Before you watch the video, discuss or reflect on these questions:

  • Is plagiarism a problem in your classroom?  How do you view plagiarism (For example, do you see it as cheating? Stealing? A survival strategy?)
  • Do you explain plagiarism in your class?  How do you explain it?  What do you compare it to?
  • Why do you think students plagiarize?  Do you ask this question to your students?  What kind of answers have you had?
  • What do you say to students when you find plagiarized information in their writing?  How do you deal with it?

After you watch the video, review these questions for discussion and reflection:

  1. Do you think a student who comes from a culture in which ‘it’s ok to share’ and everyone is ‘used to sharing everything’ finds it easy to understand the concept of intellectual property?
  2. How can you explain this concept in terms a student from this kind of culture can understand?  What words can you use?  How could you compare this to other cultural differences between the student’s home country and North America?
  3. Part of the issue with plagiarism is the fact that we don’t need to cite information that is considered “common knowledge.”  How do we know what is “common knowledge”?  Why do we distinguish between “common knowledge” and information that must be cited?  How can we explain this difference to our learners?  What words can we use to explain this?  What kind of examples would help them to understand this concept?‌

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Video #2: Academic honesty

Student Interview
Many students come from cultures in which the concepts of intellectual property and plagiarism do not exist. Why do you think so many students express the kind of anxiety that the student in the interview does?

Classroom Scenario

Questions for discussion or reflection before watching the video clip:

  1. Is plagiarism a problem in your classroom? How do you view plagiarism (For example, do you see it as cheating? Stealing? A survival strategy?)
  2. Do you explain plagiarism in your class? How do you explain it? What do you compare it to?
  3. What are the consequences for plagiarism on an individual assignment? What are the consequences for plagiarism on a group assignment?

Questions for discussion and reflection after watching the first video clip:

  1. Why does the instructor adopt a punitive attitude when he explains the policy regarding plagiarism?
  2. The explanation that follows the clip of the classroom presents some cultural background information. Does this information help you to understand some of the reasons why students may unintentionally plagiarize information in their written assignments?
  3. Do you think that using these concepts to introduce plagiarism to students in terms of cultural differences would be helpful? Why or why not?‌

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Video #3 - An alternate approach

Questions for discussion or reflection after watching the video clip:

  1. Did this way of presenting academic integrity seem helpful to you? Why or why not?
  2. Would you consider adopting this kind of approach in your classroom? Why or why not?
  3. Student response: How did the students handle referencing and citation when they were working in a small group after the class? Do you think that your students would handle it in the same way? If not, how could you help them?

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What’s brewing in your classroom?

Meet with Dr. Maureen Wideman to discuss your ideas and challenges. She can help you reach your teaching goals and develop great learning experiences for students.

Book a meeting now

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