Cultural Expectations

You may also encounter a diverse range of cultural expectations from your students, ranging from the expectations that certain cultural groups have of you as a teacher and their understanding of their own responsibilities to the understanding of academic standards and offenses. For example, there are significant cultural differences in what kind of classroom behaviour is respectful. Some students might have been taught that it is disrespectful to speak out in class, to ask questions of the teacher, or to disagree with an authority figure; other students might have been raised in a culture where quite the opposite is true, and who believe that actively engaging in debate is a form of respectful classroom participation. It is important to remember that these differences in cultural understanding of normal or respectful classroom behaviour will not necessarily map clearly onto categories of language proficiency.

A few best practices will keep expectations clear for students.

  • Emphasize the policies that are important to your students’ academic well-being. For example, anticipate that definitions of academic integrity adopted at the University of Toronto are not the same as those elsewhere and that some students may have a very different sense of what constitutes an offence.
  • Emphasize your expectations and the rationale for the policies. For example, discuss with your class what citation practice is for, rather than just talking about the consequences of being caught plagiarizing.