Unauthorized Assistance / Materials

Unauthorized Assistance

Unauthorized assistance is anytime you use materials, information, tools, or study aids that your faculty member has not authorized or provided as a part of the course materials. This can include using notes or a calculator on a test when not permitted to do so, utilizing the internet or other external sources during an online exam, or asking someone else to complete coursework with or for you.

Artificial Intelligence

As the development of artificial intelligence and sites such as ChatGPT are on the rise, it is important for students to assess and understand the complex nature of these tools. We recognize that students are balancing personal and academic demands and that ChatGPT and other AI tools may present as a quick, helpful solution. It is important to understand that these tools constitute unauthorized assistance and may be identifiable. AI produced content typically sounds formal and does not reflect students’ voices. AI uses formatting, clauses, phrasing, and overly academic language that may be entirely distinct from what a student typically would write (or may have written previously in class or in a discussion post, etc.)  Additionally, AI pulls information from the internet, sometimes incorrectly. It can fabricate information (search the term “AI hallucinations”). It doesn’t provide accurate citations, yet often references others work. It may pull from authors, works, media, cases, etc., that may be similar, but are incorrect. While AI may feel helpful, there are a number of pitfalls in addition to it constituting academic misconduct. Before using AI, it is important to check your syllabus – does your instructor prohibit use? Allow use for the purpose of generating ideas? Perhaps the syllabus doesn’t speak directly to the use of AI – it is your responsibility to ask your instructor prior to using it. What is most important is that you are not using AI to demonstrate or replace your knowledge or understanding of the course content.


Study Sites

In recent years, the Office of Student Conduct has seen a significant increase in the use of online coursework warehouses such as Chegg and Coursehero. The Q&A portion of these websites not only provides unauthorized assistance but can also pose issues pertaining to the misuse of intellectual property. The Q&A portion of these websites is no different than asking a friend or expert for homework or exam answers. If your instructor doesn’t permit you to engage with others or receive answers for homework, quizzes, or exams, this clearly includes use of online help resources as well. For more information, see this infographic about the use of online coursework warehouses [pdf].


Unauthorized Collaboration or Teamwork

Unauthorized collaboration or teamwork is another area where the Office of Student Conduct sees significant referrals. It is important for students to understand that generally speaking, faculty expect that you are completing your own academic work, whether homework, quizzes, or exams in order to assess your knowledge and understanding of the course content. It is important that you review your course syllabus to understand faculty expectations regarding any level of collaboration or teamwork. If you are unsure about what is allowed or prohibited, it is your responsibility to ask clarifying questions. This includes the level to which you are permitted to discuss individual homework assignments, quizzes, or other class work, as too much engagement or assistance can often lead to significant similarities in work. These discussions might occur in person, over social media platforms, or in group chats – regardless of the medium, these discussions often include the sharing of information that could provide an unfair academic advantage and therefore could be considered misconduct.


Knowledge Check 2: Unauthorized Assistance 


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