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. Watch for how these features play out in the day-to-day interactions among students and instructors during your courses. Compare these features to your home country's academic culture. What are the differences and similarities? What about the Canadian system that might be particularly challenging for you? Some features of the Canadian educational environment are:

  • Students compete yet are helpful to each other. 
  • Students manage their time and are 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 not intended as a put-down or insult.
  • While not mandatory, class attendance is often essential to successfully complete a course.
  • Most professors supplement and clarify textbook information during class time. Innovative approaches to problem-solving are valued, and intellectual disagreements are expected.
  • Participation 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.
  • Expect to work in mix gender workgroups.

General Academic Regulations

Be aware of the University's expectations and your rights as a student. We strongly recommend becoming 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 essential 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. It includes pertinent information on academic offences such as plagiarism and cheating and 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 must be 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 submitting 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 study program. 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 can use notes, dictionaries, texts or calculators in examinations. If you are unsure, consult your instructor or supervisor. View a detailed list of academic offences in the Code of Student Behaviour.

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