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Academic Honesty Policy

Adopted July 1, 2014

The Computer Science Department seeks to create a friendly and supportive learning environment. We encourage students to work in groups to review material from the lectures and readings, to work practice problems from the text, to study for exams, and to discuss the general ideas and approaches to assignments. However, work submitted for a course must be done independently, unless collaboration on a particular assignment is explicitly permitted. Effective learning is compromised when this principle is violated. As explained in the Pomona College Student Handbook, this means that the work you turn in must represent only your own work. It must not be based on help from others or information obtained from sources other than those approved by the instructors.

The following discussion reflects our general understanding of academic honesty in the Computer Science Department. Any exceptions or differences will appear in the course syllabus or the instructions for an assignment. Ask your instructor if you are ever unsure about what constitutes acceptable behavior.

1 Collaboration policies

The types of work and the level of expected collaboration vary from course to course and assignment to assignment. In this section, we describe some typical expectations. Instructors will often indicate that an assignment falls into a particular category, occasionally with additional remarks about the use of specific materials or sources. Students may freely use any resource that is provided by the instructor for an assignment.

1.1 Individual Work
Most work in our courses is to be completed individually. In general, the work that that is submitted for an assignment must be the student’s own. Students may not submit work under their own name that is done by, or in collaboration with, someone else. Copying solutions from any source, including the web or students in previous offerings of the course, is not allowed.

Students should not read or possess copies in any form—physical or electronic—of another student’s work. There is no legitimate reason for a student to possess a copy of another student’s assignment, to send a copy of student work from one computer account to another, or to be logged-on to another student’s account. Providing one’s own work to another student is also a violation of these policies.

We routinely use software and other tools to detect similarities between submissions. Identical, or nearly identical, submissions will be considered conclusive evidence of plagiarism.

  • For programming assignments, students may normally discuss general approaches to assignments, and they may give or receive “consulting” help for specific problems with software or computer programs. A student may look at another student’s work only when help is requested. In that situation the student takes on the role of mentor, and the interaction must be limited to the immediate problem. Two students sitting side-by-side and working through a program step-by-step will certainly produce work that will be considered evidence of illegal collaboration.
  • On problem sets, group discussion of the general ideas and approaches is permitted, provided the group members are noted on the submitted solutions. However, each student must write the solutions apart from the group, without consulting notes or other artifacts from the discussion.
  • Although papers are less common in computer science classes, when they are assigned they must adhere to the usual levels of academic integrity. The prose must be the student’s own, and all external sources must be properly cited.

1.2 Group Projects
Sometimes assignments are to be done by small teams of students. In these situations, the team takes on the role of an individual in the preceding discussion. The members of a team may communicate with one another, but collaboration with members of a different team is not permitted.

1.3 Exams and Test Programs
As stated in the Pomona College Student Handbook, “Students neither give nor receive assistance with examinations.” Each examination will have a clear statement of what resources are permitted. Any use of material beyond those limits is not allowed. Take-home examinations will have time limits and similarly explicit rules; they are subject to the same policies.

During examinations students may ask the instructor questions of clarification. The instructor will decide how complete an answer can be given.

Some courses have “test programs” which are programming assignments that are to be treated in the same way as take-home examinations.

1.4 Practice Exercises
Some assignments are intended to give students comfort with a programming language feature or software environment. On these, any kind of assistance is permitted. The point is to get the work done.

2 Use of Course Materials

Course materials that are distributed in class, on Sakai, on the web, or by other means are provided solely for students in the class. Students are encouraged to use them to the fullest extent, but they are not to publish or distribute them to other people or organizations.

3 Responsibility of Mentors and Graders

Course assistants are routinely provided with solution sets to assignments. The solutions are intended to be an aid to effective mentoring and grading. Course assistants are not to distribute the solutions, in whole or in part, at any time.

Graders who encounter suspicious similarities between submissions must report those instances to the instructor in the course.

4 Penalties

Failure to abide by our rules will be considered a violation of the college’s academic honesty policy and will result in severe penalties. Instances of plagiarism are easy to identify and will be handled promptly. The first offense typically results in failure in the course and is always reported to the Dean of Students Office. A second offense is automatically referred to the College’s Board of Academic Discipline. See the Academic Honesty Policy in the Pomona College Student Handbook for further information. Students from other Claremont Colleges will be treated according to the procedures of their home campus. Please do not put us, yourself, or anyone else in an unpleasant situation.