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Guidelines for Working Together with Academic Integrity
It is not good that students should be alone
Though certain assignments are meant specifically to be done in a group,
you are encouraged to work with others on out-of-class
assignments unless otherwise indicated. In fact, I strongly encourage
you to find 2-3 other students and agree to meet at regularly-scheduled
times each week to study together. Some reasons for doing this
(some of these may apply to you more than others, depending upon
your innate mathematical ability):
- If you view math as a set of skills to learn, then you are
embarking on a very difficult venture indeed when you set down
to learn in a detached way the myriad of skills that go with
a specific course. As it happens, these skills are generally
based upon a relatively small collection of ideas/concepts that,
if mastered, make the skills much easier to apprehend. You
will find it easier to master these fundamental ideas if you
work at learning the vocabulary using the mathematical terms
specific to the course with classmates. You should talk about
the concepts, identifying carefully what they are and what they
are not. (For instance, a function is not the same thing
as a graph.) No section is likely to emphasize more than two
concepts, and often these are repeats (concepts that have
- If you spend time in demonstrations to others in your group
of your solutions to various problems,
you will find frequently that another has solved
a problem substantially differently than you have.
Real learning begins when you grapple
together over why different methods lead to the same or different
- You may find that another group member can solve a problem you've
tried but has left you stymied.
- Even if you tend to get all of the problems, there is value in
explaining things to others. Every teacher you know will tell
you that they thought they knew a subject well before teaching
it, but gained new insights/understanding as they taught it.
- Studying together provides opportunity for Christian interaction.
We can encourage one another, bear one another's
burdens/frustrations, and share our gifts (and griefs) with others.
- One day you will seek employment. Companies are looking for people
who, while individually competent, have good teamwork experiences
and skills. Now is the time to develop those skills.
In the final analysis, each student is responsible for his or her
Having said all of this, remember that you are individually accountable
for your learning. (Exams are not group efforts.) The end result must
be that you are able to discuss (usually in writing) the
mathematics necessary to the course. Mathematics is not a spectator
sport! Work on a problem by yourself before seeking help, identifying
specifically the place you get stuck. When you get help, ask for the
least amount of information necessary to get you going again.
Don't work with someone who can't resist telling you the entire solution
everytime you ask a simle question.
Work that is turned in for a grade (except work explicitly designated as
group work) should be written up independently. If you do this
in proximity of study partners resist the temptation to
"copy" or to lean too heavily on someone else
(neither of which is not allowed), mistakenly thinking that you would
have been able to do the work on your own.
You may borrow someone's idea for solving a problem,
but the words must be yours. All assignments (except for projects
specifically assigned in groups) are to be written up separately on
Handing in another's writeup (even on homework) will be considered as
If you choose to work with a group, try to pick a group that is
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