When Is Collaboration OK?
- Is it OK to form study groups and share notes, ask each other questions? What if some teachers prohibit study groups and others say study groups are fine?
- Can two or more students complete a lab assignment together? If this is OK, can they share their lab notes? Will their work be questioned if they report identical or almost identical data in their results?
- When a short, ungraded math homework assignment is required each day, is it fair for two students to take turns doing the problems and then copying from each other?
- Is it OK for students to review books together when there is an extensive list of assigned readings? What if one student in the group reads a specific assigned book or article and makes in-depth notes, then shares his notes and ideas with other students in the group who might not have read the book as carefully (if at all)? Is this collaboration or cheating?
- When students work together on a class presentation or report, how does the instructor assign a fair grade? How do the students identify the part of the presentation or report for which each is responsible?
- If the entire class has the same final assignment, are the students allowed to discuss the assignment among themselves? Is it OK to share resources they have located? What about sharing notes and drafts of their final report?
- Is it fair for a student to ask another student to read a paper and comment on it, suggest improvements, and perhaps edit the paper for grammar and spelling? What about help from a parent, tutor, or learning center?
Reprinted with permission from Student Cheating and Plagiarism in the Internet Era: A Wake-Up Call by Ann Lathrop and Kathleen Foss. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2000.