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CS policy to provide clarity on collaboration

September 8, 2017

In the wake of multiple plagiarism cases last year, the Computer Science Department revamped its collaboration policies this year, implementing a standardized, department-wide system. The system ranks assignments at four different ‘levels’ where each level corresponds to an allowed amount of collaboration with other students.

Level zero has no restriction on collaboration; level one allows for the exchange of ideas without the use of any written material; level two collaboration allows students to talk to teaching assistants; and level three is generally used in exams, where students are only allowed to talk to professors.

“We hope that now with the policy being much more clear and much more specific and with examples and taglines, it will make it even clearer what’s allowed and what’s not,” said Associate Professor of Computer Science and Chair of Computer Science Department, Professor Laura Toma.

Bo Bleckel ’18, who is a computer science major as well as a Teaching Assistant in the department, thinks that the new policy will provide clarity for students.

“Now, every time I get a new assignment, the top of the handout says level one, level two, and then you just have this website to refer to that gives you very specific instructions,” said Bleckel.

Professors in the department will continue to be transparent about their use of the Measure of Software Similarity (MOSS), a software that runs code through a program in order to detect plagiarism, on some assignments.

In addition to the policy regarding collaboration, the department also hired one new professor. This year, Assistant Professor of Computer Science Sarah Harmon whose research is in computational media, is teaching CSCI 1101: Intro to Computer Science. The department is now offering one new class this year, CSCI 1103: Accelerated Intro to Computer Science, taught by Professor of Computer Science Eric Chown.

“It just serves the increasing number of students who come with some programming knowledge from high school,” said Toma.

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