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Academic Honesty Policy

Group Project Guidelines

Group projects and reports involve special academic honesty issues for both students and faculty, and offer an opportunity for faculty to teach principles of academic honesty as applied to group work. Below we provide some recommendations for how instructors can guide students, and include example statements that can be adapted for your use.

In general, when assigning projects that will result in a single product submitted and signed by a group of students, it is important to make clear each student's responsibility for the integrity of the entire product. This applies to written reports, as well as oral presentations with or without slides or handouts. Two general recommendations follow.

Recommendation 1—Written and Oral Guidelines for Students

It is important to clearly spell out to students your expectations for how they handle group projects/reports, particularly regarding academic honesty standards. We recommend that you do this both orally and in writing (e.g. in the syllabus or assignment instructions).

Students are not experienced in how to handle the more complex issues involved in group assignments, and your guidance is needed. You should consider:

  • Requiring each student to provide, as part of the assignment, a clear specific statement indicating each individual’s contribution to the project
  • Giving a description of the students’ shared responsibilities regarding academic honesty
  • Providing clear guidelines on what a student should do if there are problems with other students in the group, so as to “head-off” academic dishonesty problems  

Guidelines could also include a statement that students should engage in some degree of collaboration on all parts of the project, rather than dividing the tasks and simply assembling the pieces into a final report at the end.

Recommendation 2—Individual Reports for Group Projects

In general, we recommend that students be required to write up their own reports for group projects, rather than turning in a group written report. This practice allows the instructor to more clearly define and identify responsibility, and can reduce the anxiety for students concerning their responsibility for other’s activities.

Instructors should specify which activities are group and which are individual, and provide a clear statement that copying and sharing of written reports among group members constitutes plagiarism.

Example Statments

Example of a Guideline Statement for Group Project with Individual Reports

This course includes xxx group assignments. During these assignments you will collaborate on tasks x, y, and z. You are permitted and encouraged to share xxxxx. However, you are required to xxx (e.g. analyze your own data) and write up your report individually and in your own words. Make sure to xxx (insert statement about citations, e.g.). At the end of your report, you are required to provide a clear statement of the contributions of each member of your group to the group activities.

Example of a Guideline Statement for Group Project with Group Report

This course includes xxx group assignments. During these assignments you will collaborate on tasks x, y, and z. You are permitted and encouraged to share xxxx, and you will write your report as a group effort. Therefore it is important to understand that you are responsible for the academic integrity of the entire report, including contributions of other group members. To avoid potential problems with academic honesty (and to more fully engage in the project), you should be involved in various aspects of writing the report, and you should verify that citations are correct and that all text is accurately cited and not plagiarized. At the end of the report, you are required to provide a clear statement of the contributions of each member of your group to the group activities. If you feel that problems are developing in your group project, you should come to see me early, so that I can provide general guidance to group members to set your activities on the right course. As you are responsible for the entire assignment, it is incumbent upon each of you to ensure the integrity of the project.