- Las Positas College
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- Academic Honesty and Internet Study Tools
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Academic Honesty and Internet “Study Tools”
We live in a culture where computer users turn to the internet for answers to common questions and for all kinds of conveniences. It is entirely predictable, then, that students would turn to the internet for help with their coursework. Unfortunately, there are a number of websites that engage student users in cheating and plagiarism, often without the student understanding the seriousness of what they are doing. Some websites offer services that are obviously cheating, such as selling an entire paper for students to turn in, but other websites, sometimes called “social learning” sites, describe their services in ways that make them sound like tools that any hard-working student would naturally use.
- They use wording that makes the activities they sponsor (like asking students to upload past essays and tests to share with others) sound legitimate, innovative, and risk-free.
- They craft academic honesty statements that displace the responsibility for understanding the risks of cheating and plagiarism onto the student with no guidance.
- In some cases, they employ faculty who, in their dedication to the positive aspects of group learning and information sharing, fail to address the serious risks of cheating and plagiarism that come with using the sites.
- They charge for content that may be incorrect, out-of-date, or not up to instructor standards, content that they do not own copyright to, or content that students could obtain for free elsewhere.
- They may offer access to scholarships, only mentioning in fine print that the information students provide will be sold for marketing purposes.
Las Positas College recognizes that students are under a great deal of pressure, what with the high number of units they may be taking, the necessity of holding down a part-time or even full-time job, and the stress of confronting challenging course material and expectations. However, the college also knows that its students understand the practical and ethical value of doing their own work and of developing their knowledge and skills so that they can be adequately prepared for their future careers.
To this end, the college provides a number of legitimate support services for students. These include free tutoring, reading and writing support, Smart Shop skills workshops, counseling, services for disabled students, non-credit courses, library skills courses, and instructor office hours.
Internet Tools to Avoid or Use with Caution
The internet tools described in the list below shoud be avoided or used only with caution, since they can easily lead to academic dishonesty. Click on the links below for explanations of what students should watch out for with “social learning” sites and why accessing the services that they provide may engage students in cheating and plagiarism. If you are ever uncertain of whether a website is legitimate or whether a particular activity on a website is legitimate, ask your instructor.