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WAB Faculty & Staff

HS Academic Integrity Review: Working With Others

Working with others: is it ok?

When working together, it's easy to become confused about what's allowed and what isn't. However, there is a difference between collaboration (working together to deepen your understanding, collusion (working together to deliberately deceive your teacher), and out-and-out copying (submitting others' work as your own).  Read below for more details!

Collaborative learning

Sometimes called cooperative learning, this where students work together in groups of two or more on a shared goal. You might be trying to deepen your understanding about an issue or brainstorm ideas in relation to a particular problem. Whatever the purpose, the collaborative effort is one in which all members of the group are expected to participate equally.

These groups are usually face-to-face but increasingly groups can operate online through discussion boards, chatlines, blogs and wikis.

Suppose in a Maths class, the teacher suggests that students work on a number of trigonometry problems in groups. There would be little value if each student chose to work on only one or two of the problems and then merely copied each other's answers. It would be much better if each member of the group worked each problem collaboratively and agreed that each person would undertake to explain their thinking to the group. This way, everyone has the potential to benefit.

excerpt from: HSC: All My Own Work


In its simplest form, collusion occurs when two or more people work secretly for the purpose of deliberately misleading others.

Collusion is a form of plagiarism that can occur as a result of inappropriate collaboration during group work. It involves working with someone with the deliberate intention to mislead. This could involve working with someone else to produce work which is presented as your own when, in fact, it was the result of secretly working with someone else.

Sometimes it is difficult to know whether you are colluding or not during group work. One way to avoid collusion is to make sure that each member of the group takes their own personal notes of what is happening during the group work sessions.

An example of collusion would be if you helped out a friend and let him copy your most recent assignment, even if you remind him to change the words to make it look like his own before he hands it in.

excerpt from: HSC: All My Own Work


When the teacher says, 'Go ahead and work together', the protocols of citation, referencing and acknowledgement still apply.

If you are like most other students, you would like to be sure that you get credit for the work you have done and not for what someone else has done. Having said that though, some honest and hardworking students have been found to copy out of ignorance. They are not aware of the correct citation or referencing procedures. However, this is not a defence. You should not allow others to copy your work. Allowing others to copy your work makes you as guilty of plagiarism as the person doing the copying. You may face the same penalties.

Copying is cheating. It is fooling a reader into believing that certain written material is original when it is not. Teachers and examiners treat copying or plagiarism very seriously. It may lead to a student getting zero for an assignment or a complete course being withheld.

For example, students are instructed to work as a group in a brainstorming session before moving to individual research for an assignment. One student simply copies all the ideas of the other students and submits this work as his own, without additional work or attribution. This copying is cheating.

excerpt from: HSC: All My Own Work

 Think of the following people or places where you might seek help with your school work. Make sure the help you receive is appropriate and the work you submit is your own original work.

Family and friends
Family and friends should be supportive of your study but that does not mean that they do the work for you. They might like to talk about what you are doing and that's fine but be careful that it is your own ideas that you are presenting.

External tutors
External tutors want the best for you and have your interest at heart but that should not extend to them actually doing your work for you. They might discuss your work with you, even model some problems, for example, but then it should be up to you

Coaching colleges
Again, the staff at coaching colleges are there to help you, to unpack issues which you are finding difficult in much the same way that your teachers do at school. Listen to their advice but do not allow them to write your answers for you; otherwise you will be found to be acting inappropriately and you could put your whole diploma at risk.

Ghost writers
This is where you get someone else to write an assignment or assessment task for you - usually paying them to do so. This would be seen as a serious breach of trust and is highly unethical practice.

Assignments online
There are many websites now where you can go to buy assignments - you can even commission people to write your assignments for you. Don't do it. The risks for you are too great and don't think that your teachers are not aware of these sites - they are. In fact, there are many additional sites now against which your teachers can check your assignments for plagiarism.





excerpted from: HSC All My Own Work

Discuss the Scenario

Ethical or not?

1.  Two years ago, your sister wrote a One World Essay on the climate change.  A couple of paragraphs were very useful, so you put them in your paper without citing.

2.  In DT, you are building a birdhouse.  Your dad is a great carpenter, so he shows you how to miter the joints.  You finish the project, then he checks your work and gives you feedback.

Collusion or collaboration?

3.  You and your friend work together on a research project about the Cold War, You each keep your own set of notes and create different final products.  

4.  You and your friend have to research the Cold War.  You divide the topics, take notes, then share the notes and work together when writing your paper. You use different words, but the ideas are basically the same.