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Student Choices: My Homework or Our Homework?

Wednesday, Apr. 29, 2009

Part of a collection of ethics cases for college students being developed by the Ethics Center, this story asks when collaboration becomes cheating:

Kyle and Aaron are roommates taking a calculus class together this term.  Their professor encourages collaboration on homework.  Because Kyle finds calculus much easier than does Aaron, Kyle almost always ends up doing the work first, poring over the complex problems before they meet.  Aaron then relies on Kyle to explain the problem to him, showing him the approach and the homework he plans to hand in.  Kyle now feels that Aaron is taking advantage of him. 

Should Kyle demand that Aaron do more of the work, even if it takes him twice as long?  If Aaron doesn’t do his share of the homework, should Kyle stop their joint homework, or even tell the professor that the way it worked out, Aaron just copied Kyle’s homework for each class?