Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism


Collaborative learning is an important educational process in which a group of students work together to achieve a common learning goal. As new ideas and information are discussed and shared, individual critical thinking skills are strengthened.

In the sciences, research projects and lab work are regularly intermingled. Problem solving is often worked on in a group setting. In the liberal arts, although individual work is more often the norm, writing instruction is often provided in classes with a "workshop" format.

At Colorado State University, for instance, COCC150, the composition course required of all undergraduates for graduation, is workshop oriented. Instructors plan for and expect collaboration in the classroom.

If you are a CSU student, your writing assignments will be read and commented upon by your peers. Expect to participate with your fellow classmates in an active exchange of ideas and suggestions. The Writing Center is also available, free of charge, for individualized tutoring assistance and you will be encouraged to take advantage of the help provided.

Any class requiring peer review, draft sharing, brainstorming, information swapping, outside tutoring, etc., is an approved collaborative learning program and your participation is not plagiarism. Keep in mind, however, that individual effort is no less important than collaborative teamwork.

The issues that arise around collaboration involve authorized and unauthorized boundaries. What is acceptable and what is not? If the parameters on collaboration are unclear and not addressed in your class syllabus, ask your instructor.

If you are receiving help from a tutor or a friend outside of class, discuss the situation with your instructor to avoid any misunderstanding. Everything will be fine if you stay within the guidelines he or she provides.

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