Is there a foreign language effect on academic integrity?


In China, the prevalence of academic dishonesty has attracted considerable negative attention. One explanation for observed differences is found in cultural norms around the acceptability of individual unethical academic behaviors. The establishment of international cooperative universities in China presents a unique challenge for educators and administrators due to cultural differences in practices around academic integrity. This is especially relevant in the context of Sino-American universities due to increased tolerance and decreased training concerning plagiarism in Chinese education relative to the USA. The unique academic experience of bilingual Chinese students enrolled in Sino-American universities presents an opportunity to investigate whether academic experience in English influences attitudes and behaviors around academic integrity. Drawing from research on the foreign language effect, the present study tested the hypothesis that knowledge, and by extension behavior, associated with academic integrity is bound to the English language. Mandarin-English bilingual university students (n = 106) completed both objective and self-report assessments of language experience and responded to two dilemmas designed to mirror commonly experienced academic scenarios presented in either Mandarin or English. We identified a modulatory role of English proficiency with higher levels associated with a lower likelihood of academically dishonest behavior. Additional findings support that separable dimensions of English experience interact to modulate responses to academic dilemmas. Findings suggest that higher levels of English proficiency may reflect higher access to Western norms around academic integrity.

Higher Education
Adam John Privitera
Adam John Privitera
Research Fellow

Dr. Adam John Privitera is a cognitive scientist and currently a Research Fellow in the Centre for Research and Development in Learning (CRADLE).