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Academic Expectations Check-In

Understanding the academic expectations at Queen’s will help you achieve your academic goals. Reflect on your previous experience below to see how your academic foundation will help you become familiar with Canadian academic expectations. Here are some additional tips on adjusting to Canadian academics and university academic life.

 

Role of the Student

Reflect: What were the learning expectations in your previous academic experience?

Canadian Academic Expectations:

  • Students are independent learners and take responsibility for their own work, often without explicit direction.
  • The development of time management skills is expected in order to manage competing deadlines and commitments. Students should expect frequent and varied assignments and readings
  • Students are expected to demonstrate critical thinking skills. Rather than just summarizing or describing information, making evidence-based evaluations or judgments is key to getting the grades you want and making the most of your classes.

 

Reflect: What were the communication expectations between instructor and student?

Canadian Academic Expectations:

  • Classrooms are a training ground for effective communication skills. Students actively engaging and contributing in the classroom is important.
  • Directness in speaking style and frequent eye contact are valued components of oral communication.
  • Professors are partners in the learning process, so asking questions is not seen as rude or demanding.
  • Instructors hold office hours which are great opportunities to discuss challenges, clarify information, ask questions, get feedback, and get to know the professor. A good strategy is to prepare some direct questions in advance to maximize time. Additionally, in email communication, respectful language and a direct statement of purpose is expected.

 

Structuring Writing Assignments

Reflect: Was there an expected writing structure for how you presented your ideas in writing in your previous academic experience?

Canadian Academic Expectations:

  • The usual expectation for academic written work is to use a direct linear structure. This kind of structure depends on an opening section that introduces the main argument and ideas. This introduction is followed by a body of evidence that supports the main argument, and ends with a conclusion.
    • For example, a student is writing a research essay about a particular flower in a garden. In an essay using a direct linear structure, the student would introduce the flower and their argument about why this flower is important in their introductory section. This opening section would be followed by evidence for this argument, maybe using the examples of other flowers in the garden as a contrast. In an essay that does not follow a linear structure, the student would introduce all the flowers in the garden before getting to why the particular flower is important at the end of the essay. (Source)
  • Thesis statements and topic sentences are important structural components of academic writing. Read more about developing a thesis statement and writing topic sentences.
  • An effective way of getting used to this kind of structure is to read to write. When reading the work of others, students should take note of not only the content of the ideas, but also the structured way the ideas are presented.

Reflect: What was the expectation of the reader of your writing in your previous academic experience?

Canadian Academic Expectations:

  • Students should ensure that they understand the purpose of the writing assignment so that they are meeting the expectations of the reader. Learn more about common assignment terminology.
  • Canadian academic writing culture is a writer-responsible culture. This means that, unlike a reader-responsible culture, it is up to the writer to establish clear understanding for the reader. An effective editing strategy is to create a reverse outline in order to see if the reader will be able to see the writer’s thinking process.
  • Language at the sentence level is expected to be functional for reader understanding. The structure of sentences should be as complete, concise, and clear as possible. If English is an Additional Language (EAL) for you, explore various support programming.

 

Academic Integrity

Reflect: Did you have official policies about responsible scholarship in your previous academic experience?

Canadian Academic Expectations:

  • Academic Integrity at Queen’s “provides a foundation for the entire educational community at Queen’s” and means the practice responsible scholarship (Source). Academic dishonesty hurts the whole institution and the future of the student.
  • The most common types of Academic Integrity violations are Plagiarism and Use of unauthorized materials:
    • Plagiarism means “presenting another’s ideas or phrasings as one’s own without proper acknowledgement”. For example, copying material from a source without proper acknowledgment.
    • Use of unauthorized materials means “using materials prohibited by regulations”. For example, using an unauthorized study aid during a test or copying from another’s test paper.
    • Learn about these and other violations on the Queen’s Academic Integrity website.

Reflect: How did you integrate the ideas of others into your own work?

Canadian Academic Expectations:

  • When scholars do research, they are developing their own theories, which depend on their critical analysis and knowledge of their field of study. When they present this this research in written form, this knowledge is considered their intellectual property. This means that authors have “ownership” of their ideas. Students are expected to acknowledge who owns these ideas through referencing. Not referencing is considered plagiarism, or stealing these ideas. (Source)
  • It is often not enough to just include a list of references at the end of a written assignment. References should be integrated within the written work using the citation style preferred in the discipline. This approach shows that a student has done research and has recognized the worth of other’s ideas, which is seen positively in Canadian academics.

 

*Adapted from RMIT University Learning Lab