Cultural influence on attitudes to plagiarism
This paper discusses the issue of plagiarism in higher education. In particular, the cultural influences that contribute to student attitudes and abilities to avoid plagiarism were examined through a case study involving a number of postgraduate engineering students at UWA. These individuals were amongst a group of students who were caught plagiarising in an assignment and were permitted to resubmit their assignments following compulsory attendance at a writing skills workshop. The students mounted a defence of their actions based on educational cultural ignorance of the university's expectations regarding plagiarism. They claimed they did not grasp the university's expectations and had never learnt the skills required to avoid plagiarising. All students were from non-English speaking backgrounds and had acquired English as a second language. Student attitudes to plagiarism before and after the incident were determined as was their ability to recognise and rate the level of plagiarism in a series of writing samples. The results revealed that the students did appear to possess the necessary skills to successfully avoid plagiarising. There was however poor alignment of students' understanding of plagiarism and their perception of its impact compared to that stated in university academic conduct policy.