"Elements of Culture"

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Infrequently Asked Questions

Below are questions that I wish students would ask more frequently. If you are asking yourself any of these questions, please give yourself a pat on the back for doing so, and then look to the answers below. If you don't yet have any questions, I hope this list will give you some ideas regarding what you should be thinking about as you go through the course.

To what extent can I share ideas with other students and still uphold academic honesty?

  1. In making sense of the readings during the first few classes of each sub-unit, and certainly in your team work, I strongly encourage you to ask for and learn from others’ views and ideas about the sources we read.  Also, as each TRA approaches you may choose to study with others, which can be very productive; you should be forthright, however, in asking others who have not first prepared independently to study on their own. Since each student is ultimately responsible for her or his own exam responses (which obviously must be completed independently, without the use of books or notes), you must be discriminating in listening to others' study contributions. And finally, once in the classroom, make sure to keep your gaze fixed either on your own screen or paper or at some distant object at the front of the room or ceiling; gazing at one or more other students' screens or papers will be treated as attempted plagiarism.

  2. With regards to the formal journal reflections, once again you will surely benefit from consulting relevant course readings and even speaking with others who are integrating them into their reflections. The overall content, structure, and style of what you write must be your own, however, and must explicitly credit any outside sources on which you have drawn. IMPORTANT: you may not use internet sources other than those listed on the syllabus.

  3. You should familiarize yourself (if you have not already done so) with the CSUS "Policies & Procedures Regarding Academic Honesty"--especially the definitions of cheating and plagiarism--which take a strong stand on this issue. All students are expected to take the time to review this policy as part of preparing for TRAs and undertaking the journal assignments for this class.

  4. Personally, I feel that academic dishonesty hurts us all. It adds suspicion and resentment to academic competition, and it distorts the meaning of grades.  I am sympathetic to the many pressures that face today's university students, but am willing neither to condone nor to tolerate plagiarism or cheating as a solution to this pressure.  I will give you all the help that I can with this course, and would be happy to help you gain access to programs designed to help you, especially if you are unsure whom to contact. On the other hand, I will generally elect the most severe penalty for any act of plagiarism: a zero score for the assignment or TRA whose content is plagiarized in whole or in part, and failing the course for a second offense.

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[Much of the wording of my statements regarding academic honesty is drawn—with permission!--from Patricia Keith-Spiegel, “Syllabi Statements Regarding Academic Dishonesty: Rationale and Suggestions,” distributed by Ball State University’s Center for the Teaching of Integrity.]