The purpose of this document is to clarify the relevance, importance, and consequences of the University Code of Student Conduct rules pertaining to Academic Dishonesty as they relate to this course. Although all students and employees are necessarily bound by these rules and responsible for following them, describing them here may help deter any breach of them in the future. The relevant portions of the code are available to you through several avenues, including the student handbook. If the reader has any questions about the following, she should consult her TA or course instructor.
Academic dishonesty is the giving, taking, or preparing of information or material by a student with the intent of unethically or fraudulently aiding oneself or another on any work which is to be considered in the determination of a grade or the completion of academic requirements.
A student shall be guilty of a violation of academic integrity if he or she:
o represents the work of others as the student's own;
o obtains assistance in any academic work from another individual in a situation in which the student is expected to perform independently;
o gives assistance to another individual in a situation in which that individual is expected to perform independently;
o offers false data in support of laboratory or field work
Basically, a student violates academic integrity if she uses someone else's work as her own, gets help from someone else or helps someone else when work should be independent, or falsifies data. The code goes on to give broad definitions of cheating, plagiarism, and aiding and abetting others to cheat or plagiarize. In short:
For full details, see the Code itself.
According to the syllabus, "Students can work individually or in groups of two (no more)". This means that all work for a lab must be done independently or with exactly one other person who must be explicitly named as your partner. So, from this and the Code,
This does not mean that you cannot ask your friend about a particular problem but that you cannot jointly work out an answer and both use it, or take your friend's answer and use it. Do your own work!
The Code does permit you to seek help from your instructors; that's what they are there for! If you need help on anything, the instructors are devoted to getting you to understand it so cheating is unnecessary. They will not give you answers, but they will guide you to them. As the saying goes, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
One thing that is worth mentioning is that those who permit cheating are just as guilty as those who do the actual cheating. If I let my friend use the program I slaved away upon, I am just as guilty of cheating as my friend because I helped him cheat.
If you are unsure whether something is cheating, it is your responsibility to ask an instructor about it. It is also your responsibility to report instances of cheating. Lastly, it is an instructor's obligation to detect and act upon instances of cheating. The code forces everybody to do the "right thing".
Cheating is a big problem for everybody. It's a problem for the cheater because instead of learning and getting her money's worth, she is losing out on her education. It's a problem for an abettor because she is devaluing her hard work by helping someone else use it or get away with less work. It's a problem for the innocent bystander because cheaters can get the same results without working as hard as the bystander works, so the bystander's work is not as valuable. Finally, it is a problem for instructors because it keeps them from helping the cheater directly, and implies to them that they are doing a bad job of teaching.
On the practical side, when the time comes when your knowledge is put to the test, whether in a big exam, a job interview, a presentation, or just in your line of work, if you cheated through what you need to know, you're basically up the creek without a paddle. Even in this lab, cheating can work against you. For example, if you use someone else's program in lab, but it has a bug in it, how will you know how to fix it? Another example: if you copy someone else's answer to a question, and the answer is crucial to understanding a more complex concept later on, how will you catch up?
The short-term gain of cheating will kill you later on. The university installed these policies to prevent this from happening to you. That is why the penalty for getting caught is severe. Basically, if you get caught you have two choices. You can admit to cheating and accept whatever consequences the instructor chooses. Or, you can deny that you cheated, and appear before a judiciary board, which almost always convicts the student with a harsher penalty (but may acquit). If a student admits to cheating or is convicted of cheating twice, she can be expelled. Also, each instance of cheating is placed in your permanent academic record at the university.
It's really scary, but necessary. The Code makes cheating intolerable in order to preserve the integrity of the student body and the university at large.