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Jadwiga Staniszewska-De Mott Old Dominion University
School Dishonesty is Spread in Poland “Poland Tolerates the Art of Academic Cheating.” (Chicago Tribune, 1998), “Crib Sheets, Radio Transmitters: Cheating is Common in Poland” (Seattle Times, 1998), “Time for the Tricks to Stop” (Economist, 2005), “A Nation of Cheats? Only Joking” (Lucas, 2006), “Cheating Rife in Polish High School Exams” (Beauchamp, 2011).
Thesis Cheating at schools in Poland is widespread, permanent and perceived by society as acceptable due to the strong cultural values of loyalty and solidarity operating in the Polish educational context, as opposed to the American educational context and its cultural values of honesty and fairness.
Language as a Reflection of Cultural Attitudes “Ściąganie” - copying answers from various sources “Podpowiadanie” - supplying answers to a student questioned orally for a grade These words: - have no equivalent in English - are specific to the context of education - do not carry negative connotations, but that of a mischievous behavior.
Language as a Reflection of Cultural Attitudes Oszukiwanie” - has a strong pejorative meaning - describes any dishonest action that involves purposeful misleading of another person to his/her disadvantage. The attitude toward the reporting of cheating is conveyed by: “Skarżenie” - “telling on/tattling” used typically in the context of an elementary school, looked down upon as disloyal and childish “Donosicielstwo”- “reporting/informing (on);” produces very negative connotations. It describes the utmost act of disloyalty and betrayal.
Is School Dishonesty in Poland a Widespread and Socially Acceptable Phenomenon? Americans % NumberPoles %Number I have never cheated23.01466 Copied homework73.84580 Copied answers on test /exam 21.31377 Copied info/answers/ essays from internet 18.01178 Used Podpowiadanie -- 72 (Students) Have you ever cheated at school? If so, how did you cheat? Mark all that apply:
(Teachers) As a student, have you ever cheated in school? Americans %NumberPoles %Number Yes51.92784.343 No48.12515.78 Americans %NumberPoles %Number Yes17.3915.27 No82.74384.839 Are there any situations in which, according to you, students are justified in cheating on tests, homework, etc.?
Written-in Comments American teachers: - “there may be extenuating circumstances, pressures at home, feelings of inadequacy, etc. that need to be addressed....” Polish teachers: - cheating might be necessary for weaker students or those who “would not manage otherwise” - sometimes students have “too much to learn and cannot manage.”
Americans %NumberPoles %Number Never73.13854.928 Sometimes26.91437.319 Most of the time003.92 Always003.92 I have never observed students cheating 0000 As a teacher, if you are aware of your students cheating, do you ignore it? Is School Dishonesty in Poland a Widespread and Socially Acceptable Phenomenon?
Reasons for Cheating in the Polish Educational System An overload of material ( 65% of students at every school level (Raport,” 2011) Some subjects are” considered to be unnecessary” (55% of high-school students) -15 compulsory subjects (“National system” 2011) Teachers requiring back exactly what they had lectured An expectation that material presented in class will be “przyswojony,” = “acquired,” or simply, “memorized.” Inconsistent and harsh grading practices Three compulsory examinations, especially Matura (a set of challenging subject exams at the end of the school career, which entitles students to admission to higher education institutes)
Reasons Outside of the Educational System Historical reasons - the distrust and defying of authority in Polish society: “… The Pole usually treats authority as a force established against their will, and one whose interests are very much contrary to their own; therefore, the student considers it just to use all the methods they have at their disposal to beat it. (“Beating the Cheats,” n.d.) Hughes (2007) states that cheating may simply be viewed as a form of co-operative behavior by Polish students
Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture Poland and the USA http://geert-hofstede.com/countries.html Five cultural dimensions: 1.Power distance (PDI) 2. Individualism vs. collectivism (IDV) 3. Masculinity vs. Femininity (MAS) 4. Uncertainty avoidance (UAI) 5. Long term orientation vs. short term orientation (LTO).
Individualism Prevailing interest of the individual over the group self-reliance loose ties between people functioning in the society is not based on dependency and relationships. Rules that apply to everybody are established : universalism (Hofstede, 2010). For the American student, the school code pronounces cheating as a dishonest action that will have dire consequences US - 91 points
Collectivism, The group is the source of identity and security It is a mutual dependence relationship, practical, emotional and psychological, which often means creating family-like ties with others. “One owes a lifelong loyalty to one’s in-group ….” (Hofstede, 2010). Collectivism also means exclusionism. Collectivism correlates with “high context" cultures: communication is implicit, and rules (often implicit) are rooted in tradition and values. Thus, in Poland, the rule of cooperativeness and loyalty within one’s own in-group is an unwritten social expectation. Poland – 60 points
Poland as a Collective Culture Żakowska (2006): Project GLOBE (2006) divided individualism in Poland into: “professional” (score of 35.29 points) “family” (21.15 points). Communism and years of oppression shaped Polish society into a collective one - creation of tight groups Poles strongly identify with groups created at a lower level of social structure and based on direct contact.
Polish Educational System as Practical Expression of Cultural Values “A country’s values are strongly related to the structure and functioning of its institutions.” (Hofstede, 2010). The Polish system of education: 1) Supports the growth of friendships and the development of class solidarity 2) Students develop a strong connection with their teacher 3) Collective values are reinforced at school: cooperation, sharing possessions and space, helping others, being honorable. Failing the collective obligation is often punished by shaming
Educational Systems as a Practical Expression of Cultural Values : Loyalty over Fairness Americans % NumbersPoles%Numbers That nobody should cheat on tests because cheating is not fair to others 74.2 4611 That there is solidarity and loyalty among students in your class, which might entail cheating to help each other 25.8 1689 (Students) Which do you think is more important?
(Students) Do you think you should give your friend correct answers on a test or an exam, if s/he asks you to do so? Americans % NumbersPoles %Numbers Yes1.6 146.946 No85.2 526.16 Yes, even though I don’t like doing that 13.1 846.946 Educational Systems as a Practical Expression of Cultural Values: Loyalty over Fairness
Polish Educational System as Practical Expression of Cultural Values The teacher is in contradictory situation: - supports the group’s solidarity, because this is culturally appropriate, but - in a test situation, has to “fight” the group. Exclusionism : the teacher becomes “the other,” the authority one needs to defy, and “ściąganie” becomes a game perceived as ingenuity, not wrongdoing. The expectancy of loyalty presumes the condemnation of disloyalty. The teacher : - - could use students’ reporting on others, however - - sees it as a disloyal act
(Teachers) What would your reaction be toward the student who has reported other students for cheating? Americans % NumberPoles %Number Praise him1002982 Ignore him005213 Scold him004010 Educational Systems as a Practical Expression of Cultural Values: Solidarity vs. Honesty
Written-In Responses – American teachers 25 responses “I would thank him” (15) would deal with the matter “quietly,” “privately,” or “confidentially.” The focus: on the reporting student and the need to protect him as a good citizen doing the right thing.
Written- In Responses –Polish Teachers 22 responses One never had “a situation like this.” Some would consider the complaint but would tell the reporting student that it was: - “not the way to go about the issue”, - an “inappropriate behavior,” - not “the right solution,” - or ask the student “why he was doing it?” Eight would draw consequences from cheating, but one would not “think highly” of the reporting student. One would talk with the reporting student about the purpose of his reporting and help him “deal with his pangs of conscience.”
(Students) What do you think is a worse thing to do? Americans % NumbersPoles %Numbers To cheat on a test or homework 66.1 4155 To report other students for cheating 33.9 2195 Educational Systems as Practical Expression of Cultural Values: Solidarity vs. Honesty
Polish Educational System as Practical Expression of Cultural Values: Solidarity vs. Honesty NationalityAmericans % NumbersPoles %Numbers If you cheated at school 96.7 5831 If you reported your best friend for cheating 3.3 269 (Students) In which case do you think your parents would be more displeased with you?
Remaining Results - Pledges Americans % NumbersPoles %Numbers Yes95 5761.661 No5 338.438 (Students) If on your exam paper there was a pledge stating that you promise not to cheat on the exam, and your teacher strongly suggested that you sign it, would you do so? American students: Provided a justification for signing it: - it was a requirement, they had no choice, Indicated an understanding for it: “The pledge reinforces the seriousness of not cheating,”
Written-In Responses – Polish Students 30 responses: Seven students declared they “would sign it, but would still help others or use their help.” Referred to basic freedoms, distrust of authority, and unwillingness to sign anything formal - “I am not obliged to the teacher to sign anything,” - “I do not live in a totalitarian system,” - “I am a free person and I don’t have to sign any pledges that are inappropriate in my opinion,” - “Even if I was pressured to sign it, I wouldn’t do so,” - “I have the right not to do so.” Other answers pointed to the in-group cooperation: - “One cannot learn everything and sometimes friendly help is needed,” - “If I didn’t help, I would feel bad,” - “One needs to help others.” There was also an issue of too much material required: - “I won’t need every subject in the future,” - “I might not have time to study,” - “60% of knowledge acquired at school won’t be needed in life.”
Americans %NumberPoles %Number Yes54.92817.48 No45.12382.638 Remaining Results - Pledges (Teachers) Would you ask your students to sign a pledge that they will report other students who cheat on the exam to you, if your superiors suggested that you do so? 22 American responses Those who were against the idea expressed an unwillingness to have kids “spying on,” ”policing” each other, “to put them in the middle,” “to create mistrust.” Five teachers indicated that it was not students’ responsibility to watch others.
Written-In Responses – Polish Teachers 31 comments A group of responses denoted a very strong cultural value of loyalty that perceived reporting as: - “unethical” (3), - “basically disgusting even in this situation,” - “a reprehensible attitude,” - “morally doubtful,” - “immoral.” Teachers commented that: - reporting “in our culture is treated as something very negative,”(2) - “has bad connotations,” (2)
Written-In Responses – Polish Teachers One stated: “I am not able to encourage students to report on others, even in such a clear-cut case.” Other strong statements used were: - “I don’t approve of reporting,” - “I am against it,” -“I don’t support reporting on others in any matter,” - “In this case the end does not justify the means,” - “I cannot even conceive of such a way!” One Polish teacher wrote: “Solidarity and relations inside the group are more important than the result of some exam …,”
Americans % NumbersPoles %Numbers Yes80 4810 No20 1290 Remaining Results – Pledges (Students) If on your exam paper there was a pledge stating that you promise to report students who cheat on the exam, and your teacher strongly suggested that you sign it, would you do so? 20 American comments Eight of them stated that they did not want to: - “bear responsibility,” - “be involved,” - would “prefer to deal only with their own business,” - “did not feel comfortable with the situation.”
Written-In Responses – Polish Students 53 responses in which students stated the following: - it was teacher’s responsibility to monitor for cheaters (10) -they were not “informers” (7) - such behavior was “disloyal” (6) - expressed worry over the possibility of losing friends, or their actions not being fair to their friends (5) - they were not “tattlers” (5) - they were not “snitches” (4) - called such behavior “a betrayal.” (3)
Written-In Responses – Polish Students - perceived it as “denunciation,” (2) - expressed a worry that if they refused to help, “others wouldn’t help them later on” (2) - would not do it ” because of solidarity to other students,” (2) - or because “it was not according to their principles,” (2) Single students expressed the following views: - it would be “meanness,” - “reporting is unethical,” - “it is not an option,” - “you have to help others to manage in life.” One student compared such a tactic to the methods of the Communist government, adding that he would rather “report a teacher for enforcing such rules.”
Preventive Strategies Polish students: 1. “ Only if the teacher is watching and preventing me from cheating” “Because there will be serious consequences if I am caught.” 2. “Because I am learning for my own benefit, not for the grade” 3. For the fear of “disappointing the teacher that I like.” The least popular choice: “Cheating is a dishonest thing to do.” American students: 1. “Cheating is a dishonest thing to do” 2. “Feeling ashamed if caught,” 3. “Fearing consequences.” The least popular choice: “Only if the teacher is watching and preventing me from cheating.” What might prevent you from cheating at school? From the list, choose THREE most important reasons that apply to you, in order of importance.
Expect a less serious approach to school dishonesty and expect student cooperativeness Students fully understand that cheating is not allowed and will respect teacher’s efforts to prevent it. Use preventive measures and external controls during tests; introduce less severe consequences Emphasize other than punitive consequences e.g., show students the future benefits of knowledge Develop a good rapport with student as they see disappointing a likeable teacher as an impediment to cheating. Requesting students to sign a pledge with a promise not to cheat might be a new technique; should be preceded with a clarification that it is an honorable choice on students’ part. Guidelines for Foreign Teachers in Poland
“ Values … and not open to discussion, about what is good and what is bad … decent or indecent.” Hofstede (1994) Thank you