Akita JALT’s monthly meetings have been cancelled this semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One presenter, Prof. Jason Tacker (Akita Prefecture University), however, offered to do his presentation online. You can read his abstract below and watch his video, which we recorded using ZOOM.
Cheating with Smartphones in Japanese EFL
Abstract: In Japan smartphones have become main stream in all aspects of life. The smartphone for all of its useful applications is a tool for better communication, but has also become a tool for cheating. In multiple examples from universities in Japan, such as the Kyoto University Scandal and the more recent Tokyo University cheating scandal, students have been caught cheating through class activities, homework, class tests and entrance examinations. In EFL (English as a Foreign Language) classes this is also the case. Students in EFL classes hide their smartphones as they use them for translation, copy/paste, and sending each other answers in messages or picture format. At Akita University, in one situation, three separate classes had been taking pictures of their book reports and sharing them through their smartphones. The professors would not have caught on if they hadn’t gotten together at a teacher meeting and checked that students were copying each other.
When students of other Asian cultures in EFL classes have been confronted with cheating, they have said it was cultural.In China and Korea, students are taught to memorize and copy well respected authors and leaders in their societies to show intelligence and good judgment in their writing, but to an EFL teacher this would be plagiarism or cheating. So if Japanese students use their smartphones to cheat, is it also cultural? With this in mind, the questions I wished to answer were:
What part or parts of culture drive students to cheat in EFL classes? And,
Why are students using smartphones to cheat in EFL classes?
To find the answers a survey was created using modified questions from Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory. The Cultural Dimensions Theory was created after Hofstede had surveyed IBM employees in the 1970s. He came up with four distinct national culture traits that people espouse to varying degrees in their daily lives: individual / collectivist, uncertainty avoidance, power distance, and masculinity / femininity. My new survey was fourteen Likert scale questions in length and administered to 198 students at two different universities in Akita and Kanazawa in Japan. From the survey, uncertainty avoidance, or risk avoidance, was found to have the strongest cultural effect on cheating with smartphones. When uncertainty avoidance is used as the main external variable in the Technology Acceptance Model, students adopt and continue to use smartphones to cheat in EFL classes because of the smartphones ease of use, perceived usefulness and overall favorable attitude toward smartphones.
Watch VIDEO here: