Working in Groups

Though from time to time I make assignments which are meant specifically to be done in a group, you are always encouraged to work with others on out-of-class assignments unless otherwise indicated. In fact, I urge you to find one or two other students and agree to meet at a regularly-scheduled time each week to study together. Here are some reasons for doing this (some of these may apply to you more or less than others, depending upon your innate mathematical ability):

Having said all of this, remember that you are individually accountable for your learning (exams, after all, are not group efforts). The end result must be that you are able to discuss (usually in writing) the concepts of the course. College subjects like mathematics and statistics are not spectator sports! 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. Once you've made it to a solution, give that problem a rest and see if you could do it again (without peeking at any notes) the next day. A rule of thumb: Understanding what another has done does not mean that you can generate the same solution on your own nor critique it.

Concerning written homework, you may borrow someone's idea for solving a problem, but cite your source (a classmate, peer, book—provide the usual bibliographic information, website—provide the url, etc.). All written assignments (except in the event a group project is assigned) are to be written up separately on your own, using your own words. Give as much attention to presenting your solutions in a coherent manner (using mathematical symbols as part of your sentence structure) as you give to actually solving problems, as it is the explanation of each problem that is graded (not simply the answer itself). Handing in (uncited) another's writeup of any part of an assignment will be considered an instance of academic dishonesty (See Section 4.2.8 of the Faculty Handbook), resulting in a zero for the entire assignment.

If any part of an exam write-up is not your own, or is the result of unauthorized access to information stored anywhere in any form, the result on the first instance will be a score of zero. A second occurrence will result in automatic failure of the course.


This page maintained by: Thomas L. Scofield
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Calvin College

Last Modified: Wednesday, 11-Aug-2004 17:04:07 EDT