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Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is demonstrating honest behavior in an academic setting and avoiding plagiarism. In our AoPS Online courses, this means crediting the help you have received and not submitting the work of others as your own.

At the beginning of each AoPS Online course, students must agree to the principles outlined in the AoPS Online Honor Code before interacting with the class:

One main principle of the AoPS Honor Code is that students will not misrepresent the work of others as their own.

Parents, we hope that you'll join us in holding students to the Honor Code in all components of the course.

Why We Believe This is Important

  • Coming up with their own unique solution gives students a chance to work on their problem solving skills and deepen their understanding of the material. Submitting original work means the feedback students receive will be personalized to the approach that they took, allowing for further growth and honing of those skills.
  • For many students, AoPS is their first encounter with proof-writing or code-writing assignments. With such assignments, the process of coming up with a solution method is a significant part of the learning experience.
  • When a student submits unoriginal work, it becomes impossible for us to evaluate their understanding of the concepts covered by the assignment.
  • When students make it a habit to ask someone for help when stuck, either on the class message board or from someone they know personally, they get extra practice putting their internal reasoning into words and working with others to solve problems – both of which are important skills to develop for academic success.
  • Finally, AoPS wants students to be prepared for work in future settings where the consequences of academic dishonesty can be very high.

Consequences

If a student submits unoriginal work (as detailed in the Honor Code), they will get 0 points for any work determined to not be their own. We will notify the student of the issue and the reason for the score change through the feedback they receive for that submission. The note will include a link to the Honor Code and information about how to get help over the class message board.

We hope students will read through the information in this note, use the incident as a learning moment, and follow the Honor Code fully going forward.

What if a student submits unoriginal work more than one time?

If a student submits unoriginal work more than once, we take additional measures beyond adjusting the score and adding a note to the feedback for that submission.

  • After each additional submission of unoriginal work, we will send an email to any parent email address on record to ensure that they are aware of the issue.
  • If the student chooses to request documentation of their work (e.g. Grade Report, Certificate of Completion or Summary of Coursework) in a class where they submitted further unoriginal work, the document will include a note about the issue.

If a student submits unoriginal work for a third time, we will temporarily suspend the student’s ability to submit work for writing problems. They can regain the ability to submit work for these assignments by:

  • Re-reading the full AoPS Honor Code.
  • Sending an email to the Student Services team (student-services@aops.com) confirming that they have re-read the Honor Code and agreeing to follow it going forward.

Finally, if a student submits unoriginal work again after reaffirming the Honor Code as described above, they will lose the privilege to submit writing problem solutions for the rest of the class in which that incident occurs. Students are informed of this policy when we lift the temporary suspension.

Guidelines for Collaboration

Collaboration is a valuable part of academics, so we encourage students to work with classmates and others to solve problems. However, students who work with others should follow these guidelines to avoid misrepresenting anyone else’s work as their own:

  • Students should give proper credit to anyone who helped or worked with them outside of the class message board. This can be done by leaving a comment like "I worked with Cuddlebug and ninjacat77" or “My parents helped me solve this problem” in their submission.
  • Students should write up their final submission on their own. This means that if two (or more) students work together to figure out how to solve a problem, they should take time later to separately write up the solutions they actually submit – that way, each student can ensure that their submission is written entirely in their own words.

If a student credits assistance and writes up their final submission on their own, their submission will reflect their personal understanding of the solution method. This allows our grading staff to accurately evaluate that understanding and provide personalized and useful feedback to the student.

When a student’s solution for a writing problem closely matches a classmate’s submission and they have not cited this collaboration, they will receive half the points they would otherwise have received, as we cannot determine how much work each student did themselves.

You can find more details about how students who work together should approach writing problem assignments in the “Working with classmates” section of the AoPS Online Honor Code.

A Message to Parents and Guardians

How can my student get help when stuck on a homework assignment?

The dedicated class message boards are the best resource for students when they get stuck on a homework problem. Here, students receive assistance from AoPS Online staff who are trained in helping students get "unstuck" on problems without giving away an entire solution. Students can post questions on the message board at any time during the week, but if possible, we encourage them to post during Office Hours, which are 4:00-5:00pm and 7:30-8:30pm ET each day. During those times, staff will be on each class message board to work with students.

We also encourage your student to ask for homework extensions when needed. Students are allowed 2-4 automatic extensions (depending on the length of the course), but we are happy to provide additional extensions when circumstances warrant them.

If your student is finding it hard to keep up with the course in general, it could be helpful to review and adjust how they’re working through assignments. We've found that the material in our courses is most manageable for students when they work through it in the order suggested on the Working Through Material page. The My Goals Tab also uses this order when generating suggested work schedules.

You and your student can find more suggestions and guidance on the When You Get Stuck page.

How does the review process for writing problems work?

Before we contact a student about an Academic Integrity concern regarding one of their submissions, multiple staff members review that submission.

  • If a grader or instructor is concerned that a student’s submission closely resembles a classmate’s solution or one presented in an outside source, they flag it for further review.
  • The submission is then sent to an online school administrator who is specifically trained and experienced in our policies. They will review the submission to determine whether or not it is original work.

These reviews are done manually to ensure we use consistent standards to make each of these determinations.

Who can I contact about a case of academic dishonesty?

We appreciate your involvement in these conversations and welcome you to contact us at student-services@aops.com with any questions or concerns you may have.