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Canadian Classroom Etiquette

By GINNY RANA - February 27 2024

Canada is regarded as one of the most popular destinations for higher studies. Over the last few years, Canada has welcomed foreign students from all parts of the world. Thanks to this trend, Canadian classrooms are an amalgam of diverse cultures, languages, ethnicities, and demographics. Students get an opportunity to interact with and learn from other cultures, lands, and demographics. Diversity provides for a holistic and enriching learning experience. However, many new students find it difficult to understand the new decorum and struggle to adopt it.

Let’s unravel the Canadian classroom ethos and read between some fine lines.

Student-teacher dynamics

Typical student-teacher dynamics that you see in a Canadian classroom may be vastly different from student-and-teacher relations in many other parts of the world. Most professors prefer to be addressed by their first names. If you are coming from another country, it may take you a while to get used to this. I recall finding it difficult to address my professors by their first names. I thought it was disrespectful and took me a lot of time to get used to this way of address. 

Communication with faculty is less formal than you may be familiar with but is always respectful.

Communication is through Email 

Email is the preferred mode of communication, whether it is communication with fellow classmates or faculty. Students are expected to regularly log in to their school emails several times during the day for updates etc. 

Equity, inclusion, and respect

Equity, inclusivity, and respect are some principles on which classrooms in Canada thrive. All students are given an equal chance to share ideas/opinions and answer in class. Students are expected to be respectful to the professors as well as fellow students. 

Teachers try to be inclusive and involve all students, irrespective of their backgrounds. Additionally, a lot of effort is made to use appropriate language and not to indulge in discussions that may be discomforting or culturally inappropriate.

If any student requires accommodations, teachers are very helpful and willing to even walk the extra mile. However, it is essential that you share your concerns and not keep them to yourself. 

Different Course Delivery Modules

Courses may be delivered in different delivery modules: in-person, online, hybrid and hyflex. You may have one or two course delivery modules or even a mix of all! Let’s briefly look at how each course delivery is unique and different.

In-person, as the name suggests, is face-to-face and requires students to be present in classes. Online learning is learning by using distant learning technologies and students are expected to complete the weekly modules online. Hybrid combines in-person and online course delivery into one. You may be required to attend some classes in person while others will be held virtually. In HyFlex, classes are delivered face-to-face over live stream and audio recording. Students can either attend in-class modules or join online or tune in later to watch the lecture via online platforms. Colleges have IT/Help teams to help new students navigate the new platforms and provide support with accessing different delivery modules.

Understanding each course module can help students optimize time, enhance productivity, and improve their chances of academic success.

On-going Evaluation

Evaluation is based on multiple assignments during the duration of the semester. These could be individual or group assignments, case studies, class facilitations, presentations, and/or tests and exams. Assignments are regularly placed at intervals during the course, and it is not necessary that you have tests/exams for all courses at the end of the term. A clear understanding of course concepts and application of theory to practice are some things that the professors look for. 

Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

Plagiarism is viewed seriously and can result in immediate stringent penalties. Unaware of what this looks like, a lot of students can land in trouble for the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) to write their assignments. Most institutes run assignments through online plagiarism checkers, like SafeAssign and if content is borrowed from external sources, it gets highlighted.

Students are expected to adhere to principles of academic integrity: trust, honesty, fairness, responsibility, and respect and produce work that is original. Plagiarism or breach of academic integrity can adversely affect student records. Institutes have their guidelines on academic integrity and plagiarism, and it is a good idea to review them beforehand.

Etiquette: Pathway to Success

Instilling values for life, Canadian post-secondary institutes serve as stepping stones to future professional success. Etiquette is the pathway to success be it in academics or workspace. Imbibing these values and incorporating them into various aspects of your life can make a world of difference. Classroom decorum, much like professional propriety revolves around ethics of respect, integrity, professionalism, equity, diversity, and inclusivity. Etiquette is an essential skill for professional success. Classroom etiquette in most ways mirrors the Canadian workplace culture and can give you essential skills even before you start working. 

Higher learning institutes do not just teach you course concepts but the skills to succeed in future life. Challenging as it may be to adapt to the new learning environment at the outset, but it is well worth the effort! 

Ginny Rana is studying Social Service Worker Diploma at Seneca College. She is currently doing her practicum at Achēv Employment Services and working as a volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross. She enjoys reading, writing, and traveling.


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