Dr. Hansen's Guidelines for Collaboration


To work jointly with others or together esp. in an intellectual endeavor.

I'll begin by presenting my policies for collaboration and then I will follow up with an informal discussion of collaboration and academic integrity. Please take note of my policies and procedures at the end of the page.

First, let me give you a very short list of requirements I expect all students to abide by:

Firm Policies

Without exception, the answers provided on tests must be your own work. You should not seek nor divulge answers to test questions from any person or resource unless specifically allowed (e.g., an open-book, open-notes exam). In the event of a take-home exam, you should not discuss any aspect of the test with anyone during the exam period, nor should you solicit answers from any source outside of those provided during the course (if in doubt, ask). However, asking clarifying questions about the exam of the instructor is permitted and encouraged.

Note that obtaining, or providing to others, tests from previous semesters is a violation of the rules stated above.

Like tests, unless the work is a team project, all homework must be your own work. You should not seek specific answers from other sources (e.g., students, textbook solutions guide, "Cramster").

However, other sources may be used in helping you arrive at a solution. In addition, I encourage students to collaborate at a high-level by talking about homework problems. However, the line here between appropriate and inappropriate collaboration is hazy. It is certainly not appropriate to look at or copy the work of another person, be they a student at GFU or not. It is appropriate to ask for help in understanding a concept or technique necessary to solve a particular problem. It is not appropriate to have someone help you solve a nearly identical problem. When in doubt, err on the cautious side and ask the instructor.

Programming Assignments
Good programmers copy, borrow, and collaborate - it is the very essence of the concept of software reuse we try to promote. However, like homework, unless the work is a team project, all programs must be entirely your own work. Again, the line between appropriate and inappropriate collaboration is hazy.
Appropriate collaboration: Inappropriate collaboration: Note that I will routinely submit your code to Moss for automated plagiarism detection comparison to other student submissions, both past and present.

Group Projects
Some projects are performed in groups. Obviously this is an instance when collaboration is expected within a group. My only guideline here is that every member of the group ought to insure that they're contributing equally. Too often only one or two people carry the project. Group assignments can be valuable in teaching collaboration but they can also be an opportunity to rely inappropriately on others to do all of the work. A person's contribution to a group project will be taken into consideration when assigning individual grades.

General Comments

Working together in excess of these guidelines is considered academic dishonesty and can result in serious discipline. My general policy on discipline will be the following:
First Offense
Everyone involved will receive a score of 0 on the assignment. This means both the person(s) who did the work as well as the person(s) who reused the work of others. So beware - letting someone else use any of your work will result in a 0 for you as well. In addition, I am required to send a letter to the Dean of the College of Engineering that documents the episode.
Subsequent Offenses
Anyone foolish enough to violate my policies a second time will receive an "F" for the course and will be remanded to the Dean for further disciplinary action. Again, this includes any and all parties involved. Additional penalties, per Academic Affairs Office guidelines, may include expulsion from the University. Note that a violation of academic integrity in any class counts as a first offense in all of my courses.
I believe most students would be surprised at how easy it is to detect plagiarism and collaboration - please don't put me to the test. Remember, you always have a willing and legal collaborator in me.

Almost all of life is filled with collaboration (i.e., people working together). Yet in our academic system, we artificially limit collaboration. These limits are designed to force you to learn fundamental principles and build specific skills. It is very artificial, and you'll find that collaboration is a valuable skill in the working world.

While some of you may be tempted to collaborate too much, others will collaborate too little. When appropriate, it's a good idea to make use of others - the purpose here is to learn. Be sure to make the most of this opportunity but do it earnestly and with integrity.

Last modified: , by David M. Hansen