Academic Integrity and International Students

Posted on January 24, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

As part of my assistantship, I work with students who are found in violation of OSU’s academic dishonesty policy. One of the trends in this area is the substantial increase in international students who are found in violation of this part of our conduct code. In many of my conversations with international students I have  come to identify two reasons for this increase:

1.) A student’s writing skills are not at the college level and therefore the student is more vulnerable to committing plagiarism

2.) There is a significant difference in the way academic integrity components (cheating, assisting, plagiarism) are defined between a student’s home country and the United States.

Having recognized the negative impact that these charges can have on international students, I think it is a responsibility of college administrators to develop programs that address these issues.

I think that issues surrounding writing skills can be addressed in several ways:

◊ Entry-level English courses (offered for both incoming domestic and international students) need to focus greater attention on proper citation techniques in the United States

◊ Staff and faculty that oversee international student orientations and organizations, cultural centers, etc. need to thoroughly explain and promote the services at campus writing centers, academic success centers, professor office hours, and on-line services (

◊ Academic advisors must feel comfortable recommending remedial English courses for students who do not have qualifying test scores. These decisions must be discussed openly and explained in terms of a student’s overall success.

Specific programming must be developed to address to the cultural differences with regard to issues of academic integrity. In creating this programming it is important to recognize the immense diversity among international students and a great deal of the discussions regarding these matters will depend on the countries or regions where the student has previously studied.

◊ Panel discussion lead by returning, international students would be an excellent way to communicate the changing expectations with regard to issues such as United States standards regarding citation, group work, procedures for tests. It would be important for university administrators to meet with panelists beforehand and discuss the topics they feel comfortable covering and the details of what they should be talking about. Panel discussions with international students would help address the language barriers that may be present if native English speakers explain the policies and procedures.

◊ Workshops, classes, and/or orientations should be developed for international students that include gaining hands-on experience with citation techniques as part of their learning objectives.

◊ Professional development opportunities need to be presented to faculty and staff members so that they can gain better insight into the cultural differences regarding academic integrity issues.

I am sure that colleges and universities around the country are actively engaged in developing and implementing such programming. I hope to do more research on such programs in the coming years and help to create effective programs at my home institution(s).


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4 Responses to “Academic Integrity and International Students”

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Great idea Ruth. Part of being a good conduct coordinator isn’t just responding to alleged violations, it’s seeing how to help prevent them. I know that it is sometimes difficult to get the attention of faculty to have them think differently about their work and work of their students, but it is critical if we are to make any progress in this area.



Your post made me think about one of the great challenges that I bump up against all the time in conduct- recognizing (and often times accepting) that there are many outside factors that influence whether or not violations will occur. In the case of academic dishonesty, a student’s previous experience with technical writing skills and personal values concerning integrity will play significant roles in preventing or leading to violations. In the case of alcohol violations, a student’s previous drinking experiences, their family and friends’ expectations of them, and their own expectations of college play significant roles and as conduct officers we can’t control these factors.

The reason that I have latched on to the idea of helping prevent academic integrity among international students is because I think that two of the main causes are well within the reach of college oversight.


Not sure if you’ve seen this or not, but Wayne Robertson, former Writing Center and Supplemental Instruction Coordinator here, made an excellent film while he was here. It’s called Writing Across Borders, and it deals with much of the international nuance around writing and citation that you mention.

[…] to problems. For example cultural differences in academic dishonesty which you can read more about here. In addition, there are some cultures that use alcohol and drugs as part of cultural celebrations […]

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