With more and more students studying abroad, Plagiarism has become the most concerned argument in TESOL over the past decades. At the same time, the causes and prevention of plagiarism have always been in the debates. In Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Plagiarism is defined as “to copy another person’s ideas, words or work and pretend that they are your own”. Then Colin Sowden (2005a) claimed the culturally specific concept for plagiarism (Colin Sowden 2005), which drawn criticism from Dilin Liu (2005) in spite of his moderate argument. Dilin Liu argued that cultural differences in education do exist, though we must be wary of stereotyping (Dilin Liu 2005). I would like to agree with Dilin Liu that culture play a role in the development of plagiarism notion in China, but are there any other causes underlying students’ wrongdoing for plagiarism? The aim of this paper is to present the cause of teachers’ influence on shaping students’ perspective of plagiarism in China.
To support my points, Firstly I will provide examples from my experience to demonstrate how teachers’ background affects the cognition of Plagiarism in China. Then, I will discuss the influence of teachers’ awareness and punishment for plagiarism in teaching area.
Teachers’ influence plays an irreplaceable role in shaping students’ academic norms for plagiarism. (Jun Lei and Guangwei Hu, 2015; Xiaoya Sun and Guangwei Hu, 2020). But Jun Lei and Guangwei Hu (2015) also noted that few research has been done to investigate the teachers’ knowledge and attitude to Plagiarism (Jun Lei and Guangwei Hu, 2015). Therefore, it is worth exploring whether teachers’ influence is the factor for plagiarism.
1. Teachers’ educational background information
Plagiarism has a long history in China. Dilin Liu (2005) reviewed that the ancient origins of the concept of plagiarism in China (Dilin Liu 2005). We could not be tolerant of copying other writer’s books or ideas in a long time ago. It is possibly that copying is the Chinese people’ s first impression for the concept of plagiarism. Gradually, this concept will be reconstructed by our educational background, mainly from our teachers.
Based on inequality education resources distribution happened in China, I would like to point out that it is impossible for everyone to have an excellent teacher. After Chinese reform and opening up, China has expanded universities’ recruitment to meet increasing requirements from the society, surging more and more new universities afterward. The best education resources will be gathered in eastern and central parts of China, especially in universities of 985, 211 (the most excellent universities getting support from Chinese government). I will take my university as an example. My university is in Anyang city, Henan province, which is in the northern part of China. It is an ordinary undergraduate university. Most of the teachers in our university achieved their bachelor’s degree in their universities within China. Jun Lei and Guangwei Hu (2015) also prove that oversea educational experience will be very helpful for teachers to develop their own perceptions for plagiarism (Jun Lei and Guangwei hu, 2015). But they had never been abroad. even worse, some of them will resign job within two years to pursuit their master’s degree. One more example from my former university, my first experience for essay before my graduation from my university. In my memory, our teachers only told us that we had to finish one essay before we got our diploma. After that, no more instructions followed. It was no doubt that all of us were at a loss. We all turned to our teachers for help, but eventually, gained nothing except our essay title and essay framework. After all, this was our first time to approach the essay. At last, most of them copied other writers’ essay and got pass. “Teachers’ perceptions of an attitudes toward plagiarism can influence their students’ emergent understandings of plagiarism and plagiarizing behaviours” (Jun Lei and Guangwei Hu, 2005, cited in Chen & Chou ,2017; Husain et al.,2017. pp.462-463). Therefore, it seems to be difficult for us to develop the accurate notions for plagiarism obviously without effective instructions from our teachers.
Before I elaborate my next point, I would like to commend that our university only represent some of new undergraduate universities in the remote areas in China. Not all the teachers in universities will be same as mine. I also believe that students’ subjective initiative will help them to improve their perception of plagiarism if they are diligent and brave enough to break through old rules in their schools.
2. Teachers’ awareness and punishment for students’ plagiarism.
A lot of research has been done to investigate the reason why Asian students will be prone to plagiarize after they study abroad. Students’ language incompetence and inadequate academic practice will be the top concern for how to avoid the transgressive intertextuality (Phan Le Ha, 2006；Colin Sowden, 2005a; Dilin Liu, 2005). But our EFL teachers are not sensitive to the problems the students showed for plagiarism and miss the chance to educate them to curb plagiarism (Jun Lei and Guangwei hu, 2015). It is ashamed that any student’s shortcoming in their ability is shown to others. Hence, nobody is willing to demonstrate it to their teachers. I have the same experience in international department in English School Attached to Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. All the students in that department will go abroad for their further studies and This department is an international cooperative programme with one high school in American. Therefore, all their teachers are from American. then all the Chinese teachers will be headteachers to cooperate with foreign teachers dealing with the issues from parents and students management. Under this background, all our students should be aware of all academic rules for plagiarism. One of my students wrote his essay for final test. He was always the last one in our class became the first one to submit his essay so that he can get compliment from teachers. I gave a glance to his essay and didn’t notice anything after I collected his essay. The second day, their foreign teacher informed me that he was too slack to paraphrase. Moreover, his direct quotation was more than 40%. Consequently, he failed this subject and affected his GPA. As the result of that, he got a serious punishment from school for plagiarism. the day before yesterday, this student told me that his first essay in American was accused of plagiarism because of the same reason that his direct quotation was more than 30%.
What did we do to help him before and after his inappropriate quotation? Does Punishment really work for correcting students’ academic plagiarism? According to Diane Pecorari and Bojana Petric (2014) and Jun Lei and Guangwei hu (2015), cultivating excellent linguistic competence and academic ability is more important than punishing students’ improper paraphrase and citation. Teachers should give more supports to students and take all opportunities to teach them how to follow the academic rules, which is more useful than punishment (Bronwyn T. Williams 2007). Furthermore, Teachers’ training for plagiarism is an essential part for all teachers’ whole career life (Jun Lei and Guangwei hu 2015).
As stated above, we could not underestimate the teachers’ influence. On the contrary, we also could not exaggerate the role of teachers. Because teachers’ influence is not the unique factor for plagiarism. As for all the reasons for plagiarism, it is beyond the space of my essay. Further research will be needed for it.
The aim of this essay is to see whether the teachers’ perception of and attitude to plagiarism can have an impact on students’ plagiarism. I have presented examples from my experiences and get support from other articles. Teachers with different educational background will have different academic knowledge and attitude for plagiarism. And this will bring the direct influence on shaping students’ academic norms. Therefore, effective teachers’ training programme for academic knowledge will be desperately needed. What’s more, improving students’ academic knowledge and practice is the important teaching task for curbing plagiarism. However, if my findings are supported by studies into a wider range of universities in China, it might be advisable to all teachers. Whether the students’ plagiarism could be effectively corrected by encouraging teachers to learn and adjust teaching plan remains to be investigated.
Danil, P. and Bojana, P. 2014, Plagiarism in second- language writing. Language Teaching, 47(3) 269-302
Jun, L. 2015. Chinese university EFL teachers’ perceptions of plagiarism. Springer Higher Education. Springer. 70(3),551-565.
Liu, D. 2005. Plagiarism in ESOL students: is cultural conditioning truly the major culprit? ELT Journal,59(3),234-241.
Phan, Le Ha, 2006, Plagiarism and overseas students: stereotypes again? ELT Journal, 60(1), 76-78.
Sowden, C. 2005a. Plagiarism and the culture of multilingual students in higher education abroad. ELT Journal, 59(3),226-233
Sun, X.Y. & Hu, G.W. 2020, What do academic know and do about plagiarism? An interview study with Chinese university teachers of English, Ethics and behaviour, 30(6),459-479. Routledge.
DOI: 10. 1080/10508422.2019.1633922
William, Bronwyn T. 2007, Trust, betrayal, and authorship: Plagiarism and how we perceive students. Journal of adolescent & adult literacy, 51(4),350-354.