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Academic Integrity: Avoiding Plagiarism and Understanding Research Ethics: Classroom Culture

This guide contains slides and information corresponding with the Academic Integrity @ Pitt: Workshops for International Graduate Students series.

Classroom Participation

Embrace a Learner-Centered Culture 

Although the learner-centered approach is dominant in the U.S., classroom style depends on the professor’s style, as well as the field of study. The learner-centered model is often used in the social sciences, education, and the humanities. The teacher-centered model is more often integrated with the learner-centered model in the physical and biological sciences and engineering.

Independent thinking and analysis is highly valued and is more important than memorization

As you pursue your studies, you should critique theories, evaluate options, formulate models, and challenge yourself. Bring your conclusions and questions to class and share your insights with your classmates and professors. Unlike some other cultures, U.S. culture encourages people to stand out from their peers (rather than blending in with them) through their achievements and independent and creative thinking.

Respectful disagreement during class discussion is accepted

Always be prepared to present and defend your ideas. Always do so with respect for the ideas presented by your professor and your classmates.

Informality is normal

Students may dress casually. They may eat or drink during class if permission has been given by the instructor. Some may be allowed to address certain professors by their first names. None of that behavior reflects a lack of respect for the professor or the classroom experience.

The above information comes from Abilene Christian University.

Properly Representing Your Work

Be aware and respectful of other people's intellectual property 
In the United States, an individual is thought to own original ideas, words, and knowledge. This means that students must carefully give credit to the authors of sources they use through citations. What is already written must be cited, including written sources in books, journal articles, unpublished manuscripts, and the Web or other Internet sources. There are also cases when spoken words, such as a formal speech, must be cited. 
 
The above information comes from Abilene Christian University.

Rules of Sharing Materials

Honesty is a critical requirement of American academic culture

Universities across the country operate on an honor system based on a simple principle of academic honesty: each student’s answers or written submissions must reflect his or her personal understanding and work.

There are appropriate and inappropriate times to share information and ideas

As a general rule, students can share class notes, ideas, and materials when expressly instructed by the professor to do so as part of an exercise. In special circumstances, for example, when you become ill, the professor may permit you to borrow notes from a lecture or discussion you may have missed. However, there are certain situations and contexts where this sharing is not appropriate. These can be on a test (of course) but also when the professor explicitly states, for example, that all work on a project must be done individually. 

The above information comes from Abilene Christian University

Your Classroom

Interior of a University of Pittsburgh classroom

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences [Online Image].(2011). http://www.giveto.pitt.edu/where-give/arts-sciences

Retrieved September 24, 2015 

Be Aware of Cheating

  • What's Cheating

Cheating (having someone else write your papers, take your exams or give you answers during an exam) and plagiarism (submitting someone else's work as your own) are unacceptable

  • For International Students

‚ÄčUsing English language translation services to complete your work may also be considered dishonest since your language proficiency is a requirement of your studies. Check with your advisor and academic program.

  • Consequences of Cheating (Seriously!!!)

Infractions of the standards of academic honesty, no matter how minor, are unacceptable and carry serious consequences ranging from a failing grade on a paper or exam to suspension or removal from the University.

Some Suggestions From Your Professor

  • Prepare for class discussion by writing notes and questions you may want to use in class
  • Use the syllabus as an ongoing reference
  • Ask questions of your professors and peers in the course
  • Office hours
  • Email
  • Ask questions of your advisor
  • Work with US students to get help with editing your papers
  • Use the Writing Center for help!
  • Use online and mobile translators to better understand terms and language
  • Take additional language courses