Throughout their studies, students are encouraged to work together, in groups so they get the benefit of learning together. Sometimes, this may also extend to asking students to compile a group assessment, where they work together on a common goal and submit a group assignment.
Collusion takes place where students work together to produce an assignment that they are required to complete individually and independently. Some specific examples of collusion are:
- You work with other students to produce work that you all submit that is very similar. This would be classed as collusion. As with plagiarism, you would fail an assessment for collusion.
- You share your work with another student and they copy your work and submit it as their own. They will be sanctioned for plagiarism, but although this is your own work, you are still colluding with another student and therefore your work may be rejected or marked as a fail because you have colluded
Collusion is something students really need to look out for as they may not realise they are colluding. It is ok to study together, learn from your friends/classmates, but when you work on your assessment, it is important to ensure that you are working alone, developing your own ideas.
The trap I see most students fall into is that of helping out their friends/classmates. Jane has fallen behind with her coursework and she’s really struggling to understand what she has to do for the assessment that’s due in 4 days time. She is talking to her friend, Ana telling her how she’s really worried as she can’t figure out how to get started. Ana offers to let Jane see her assessment for some ideas since she’s finished and ready to submit. Ana thinks she’s helping Jane; but isn’t aware that Jane has cheated and copied Ana’s assessment, changed the name on her copy and has just submitted the assessment as her own.
In the above case, Jane is guilty of plagiarism as she’s pretending Ana’s work is her own. However, although Ana did all the work herself and thought she was helping her friend, the fact that she helped Jane and they have now submitted the same work, she is guilty of collusion. If I were their lecturer, I would have failed both of them. It may seem unfair, and this is something I try to get across to my students; be careful about how much of your work you share with your classmates as even with the best of intentions, you’re the one who suffers if they cheat.
I hope you now have a better understanding of collusion and why you should avoid it. Rather than letting your friends/classmates have copies of your assessment, maybe let them have a copy of your lecture notes etc and ensure that while you may work as a group for study/research, work alone when you’re working on your assessment itself.
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