Collaboration, Sharing, and Comparing: What’s Okay?

Feb 15, 2017

At CPAWSB, we encourage students and candidates to collaborate. This means supporting each other by explaining and discussing concepts. You might find that some of your best learning happens when you explain something to someone else because in crafting your explanation you synthesize the information and deepen your own understanding.

Collaboration does not mean sharing assignment responses—that’s cheating, and when you get caught, can lead to being withdrawn from the course or module, or other penalties. Use these tips to navigate the difference between collaborating and cheating:

  1. Find a study buddy. Working through assignments while sitting beside someone can be helpful. Not only can you ask each other questions, you can keep each other accountable by setting break and study times.

What to avoid: splitting responses between you and submitting each other’s work.

  1. Discuss freely. If you can explain the concept to someone else, in your own words, or if you take notes while discussing the concept with someone else, you’re learning. And it doesn’t need to be face-to-face. You can use the discussion board in D2L to ask for clarification, or respond to someone else’s request with your explanation.

What to avoid: copying content from the discussion board in your response.

  1. Do the work. In other words, complete your own response. If you give your notes or assignment to someone else, you are enabling them to cheat. If you use someone else’s notes or response, you are cheating.

What to avoid: giving or receiving notes and assignments (partial or complete.)

Consider these examples, where part of your assignment is to make estate planning recommendations:

Example A:

You discuss a few ideas with your study partner and respond to a discussion board posting from someone else seeking clarification about the tax implications of a particular suggestion. When you prepare your assignment, you refer to notes that you made while speaking with your study buddy and read through the other answers to the discussion board question. These inform your work, but you are careful to ensure that the interpretations you provide are entirely your own.

Example B:

You are pressed for time so you look at notes given to you by a friend and use her list of suggestions in your answer. You scan the discussion board for other ideas and paste a well-worded explanation in your response. You add an introduction and submit the response.

In Example A, you have collaborated, contributing your own suggestions to the discussion board and in your conversation with your study buddy. You used your own notes, and crafted your own response. In Example B, you have cheated by using notes given to you by someone else and copying information from the discussion board without demonstrating your own understanding.