Ethics Across Cultures ACADEMICS

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‘Cheating’ or ‘Sharing’?

Academic Ethics Across Cultures
Opal Leeman Bartzis
Institute for Study Abroad
Butler University

In cooperation with and
with resources compiled by
Anne Hayner
Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies
University of Notre Dame

AACRAO Conference, Orlando, FL, March 2008

Center for Academic Integrity

Clemson University Rutland Institute for Ethics

“Academic integrity is a fundamental
value of teaching, learning and
scholarship. Yet, there is growing
evidence that students cheat and

Research from the
Center for Academic Integrity

Clemson University Rutland Institute for Ethics
• On most US college campuses, over 75% of students
admit to some cheating.
• Internet plagiarism: 10% in 1999, 41% in 2001.
• Majority of students (68%): “not a serious issue.”
• Cheating: from 11% in 1963 to 49% in 1993
(self-reported -- state universities)
• US high schools: 74% - serious test cheating
• 72% - serious cheating on written assignments
• Over half - some level of plagiarism on written
assignments using the Internet.

Common Examples
of Academic Dishonesty
• Copying answers from another
• Unapproved collaboration
• Using notes or assistance of some
sort during exams
• Submitting one’s own work for
multiple assignments
• Claiming another’s work as one’s

Plagiarism as a Cultural Construct
Oxford English Dictionary definition of
“to take and use another person’s
ideas as one’s own.”
Question: Is plagiarism always
synonymous with cheating?
Cultural Values, Plagiarism, and Fairness: When Plagiarism Gets in the Way of Learning, written by Hayes J N and Introna L, Ethics & Behavior, 2005, Vol. 15, No. 3: pages 213-231

‘Plagiarism’ & ‘Cheating’ in
Cross-Cultural Perspective
Russia &

• Sharing notes, talking in class OK – not hidden
• Goal is to bring the whole class level up
• Bribes routinely expected for grades


• Sharing of answers common, but understood as
student vs. teacher; not sharing is social taboo


• Sharing is common, but students will deny
• Professors do not expect citations in paper

Costa Rica

• Teamwork the rule in personal and academic life,
including supporting those who do not contribute to
the group

‘Plagiarism’ & ‘Cheating’ in
Cross-Cultural Perspective


• Students openly admit cheating is a way of life
• ‘Intellectual property’ a foreign concept
• Value: saving face, maintaining group harmony
• Cheating seen as a skill everyone should develop
to succeed in the world; the world is corrupt
• Student learning seen as a task shared by group
• Worst accusation in culture is selfishness:
pursuing own goals at expense of others

India &

• Student riots when test cheating prevented
• Exams should not be memory tests


•Focus on learning concepts, rather than words
•Connecting quotes demonstrates understanding

‘Plagiarism’ & ‘Cheating’ in
Cross-Cultural Perspective
Non-Western countries:

Focus on textbook learning
Rote learning
Using another author’s words is a form of respect
Loved poetry and revered scholarly arguments
are learned by heart
• Students have difficulty stating own opinion
• Students have difficulty criticizing others’ words

Inherent Problems in U.S.
• Academic dishonesty is defined differently
across campuses, disciplines and
• Students are educated about academic
dishonesty in different ways
• Academic honesty violations vary and are
• All of this is intensified for the visiting

How is the problem approached now?
• Honor codes
• Syllabus statements
• Basic message:
“Plagiarism and cheating are not allowed and
consequences are serious.”

• Detection
• Penalization

Detection Programs
• Proving plagiarism can be burdensome on
• Results are mixed and do not...