Note on Academic Conduct for Students In CSci Classes

Department of Computer Science and Engineering



Part of becoming a successful computer scientist or computer engineer is acting responsibly and professionally. The purpose of this note is to clarify, particularly for new students, the academic conduct norms in Computer Science classes by providing answers to some commonly asked questions.

Q1. Why does there need to be this special note on academic conduct?

Q2. Is cheating really that big of an issue?

Q3. Are we ever allowed to work in groups in CSci classes?

Q4. Should we assume that we can work in groups in CSci classes?

Q5. If I am working on an individual assignment, how much collaboration is allowed?

Q6. Is letting someone copy your assignment also serious cheating?

Q7. What are some of the more common types of cheating that I am expected to know about?

Q8. What should teachers in each class explain about what is and is not academic misconduct? And what do faculty expect students to already know about academic misconduct?

Q9. Where is there more information about academic conduct?

Q10. What if I'm not sure if something is allowed or not?


Q1. Why does there need to be this special note on academic conduct?

A few reasons. One is some students do not realize that cheating is a serious situation with significant penalties. Students should not expect cheating to be overlooked or treated lightly --- often the penalty for cheating in a computer science class is a significant point deduction or even, in particularly serious cases, a failing grade for the class. Second, some students do not understand what constitutes cheating. This note attempts to clarify what is and is not normative in computer science classes.

Q2. Is cheating really that big of an issue?

There are a number of reasons why the University sees cheating and academic misconduct in general as significant issues. Here are a few of them:

Q3. Are we ever allowed to work in groups in CSci classes?

A number of computer science classes allow (or require) you to work in groups on some or all of the assignments. When allowed, the department encourages students to work in groups --- this often produces a better learning environment and also gives students practice in working in a group, a skill employers value since much industry work is done in groups.

Q4. Should we assume that we can work in groups in CSci classes?

Unless a class explicitly states that students can work in groups, you should assume that you are to work individually, or should ask the instructor whether group work is allowed.

Q5. If I am working on an individual assignment, how much collaboration is allowed?

This will vary from class to class. Often instructors will encourage students to discuss assignments, ask each other for help, etc. but will want them to design and implement their own answers. This will usually be explained in more detail in the course syllabus or assignment instructions, for example: "Although you are free to discuss assignments with others, the work you turn in must be your own. This means that on written problems you must come up with your own solution; on programming problems, you must design, implement, debug, and test the program on your own."

Note that, in this case, although some discussion of the assignment is permissable, extensive collaboration is not. For example turning in a lengthy programming assignment that is essentially line by line the same as another student's is a clear indicator that copying or undue collaboration occurred. If the amount of collaboration allowable is not addressed, ask the instructor if you have any questions about it.

Q6. Is letting someone copy your assignment also serious cheating?

Most students recognize that copying another's work and representing it as their own is academic dishonesty. However, you should also realize that assisting or encouraging another students in cheating is also serious academic misconduct and will often carry the same penalty. When working individually, you should not give copies of your assignments to other students.

One common excuse that professors hear about similar assignments is "I let another student use my account and they must have copied my work"; another is "I just gave another student a copy of my solution so they could check theirs." Neither of these is a valid excuse: you should not allow others to use your computer account; if you do, you are responsible for any misconduct they do using your account. Similarly, you should not allow others to view your solution prior to the assignment being due; and if you do you are equally responsible if they copy it and submit it as their own work.

Moreover, it is your responsibility to take reasonable precautions to prevent others from copying your assignments --- for example, you should not allow other people to use your computer account, should not change the permission on your computer files so that they can be copied, etc.

Q7. What are some of the more common types of cheating I am expected to know about?



Q8. What should teachers in each class explain about what is and is not academic misconduct? And what do faculty expect students to already know about academic misconduct?

Faculty should

Students should

Q9. Where is there more information about academic conduct?

The Office for Student Academic Integrity is a good site. It contains an FAQ for students, as well as links to other information such as the Student Conduct Code.

Q10. What if I'm not sure if something is allowed or not?

If you are unsure, it is best to ask the course instructor.