Academic Culture

A UAlberta class in session

Canadian cultural patterns regarding worldview, non-verbal communication and communication styles shape the character of the Canadian academic culture. Some features of the Canadian academic culture are described below. During your courses watch for how these features play out in the day-to-day interactions among students and between students and instructors. Compare these features to your home country’s academic culture. What are the differences and similarities? What about the Canadian system might be particularly challenging to you? Some features of the Canadian academic environment are:

  • Students are expected to compete yet be helpful to each other.
  • Students are expected to manage their time and be responsible for their own learning.
  • It is the student’s responsibility to ask for clarification and help.
  • Don’t be embarrassed to say that you don’t understand something.
  • If you don’t want to ask questions in class, all professors have set office hours when you can meet with them.
  • In oral and written work, the standard writing and presentation style is to have a clear thesis statement, followed by paragraphs developing this thesis and including formulations of one’s opinion, leading to a conclusion summarizing the central argument.
  • Criticism of work is expected and is not intended as a put down or insult.
  • While not mandatory, class attendance is often essential for successful completion of a course.
  • Most professors supplement and clarify textbook information during class time. Innovative approaches to problem solving are valued and intellectual disagreements are expected.
  • Individuals are expected to participate in class discussions.
  • Immediate answers to questions are not always possible and it is acceptable for someone in authority to say “I do not know” or “I’ll have to check that and get back to you.”
  • Handing in a difficult assignment that may not be your best work is preferred to not doing it at all.
  • Independent thinking and equal individual contributions to group assignments are valued.
  • A mix of gender in work groups is expected.

General Academic Regulations

Be aware of the University’s expectations and your rights as a student. It is strongly recommended that you become familiar with rules and regulations set in the University of Alberta Calendar; not knowing the regulations does not give you a pardon or excuse. It includes important information on:

  • academic program requirements
  • academic schedule
  • final deadlines for withdrawal from courses without academic penalty
  • deadlines for registration and fees academic standing regulations specific to your program deferral and re-examination rules evaluation procedures and grading appeal procedures.

You can view the code of student behaviour here. It includes pertinent information on academic offences such as plagiarism and cheating, as well as non-academic offences, disciplinary and appeal processes.

Academic Integrity

The University of Alberta is dedicated to the highest level of academic integrity. Therefore, academic offences such as plagiarism, cheating, aiding and abetting, and falsifying admission documents are taken very seriously. Consequences for academic offences can range from failing an assignment, or the entire course, to being expelled from the university.

The University of Alberta defines plagiarism as the submission of words, ideas, images or data of another person as one’s own in any academic writing, essay, thesis, research project or assignment in a course or program of study. Having someone else represent you at an exam, using unauthorized material at exam time or working together on individual assignments constitutes cheating. You must know the proper format for footnotes and bibliographies (including internet resources) and check whether you are allowed to use notes, dictionaries, texts or calculators in examinations. If you are unsure, consult your instructor or supervisor. A detailed list of academic offences is included in the Code of Student Behaviour.