Focused 100% on education law matters

Charged with cheating on a computer programming assignment? Tips from a lawyer for college students.

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2018

Computer programming students face unique challenges when it comes to demonstrating their knowledge. Professors assign work and expect students to show how to apply topics in a methodical way that demonstrates understanding. Students can get frustrated with the time it takes to compose code and look up solutions or work in a study group to get the answers faster. However, if looking up the answers or working in a group is not allowed, you can be accused of cheating. How do you defend a charge of cheating on a programming assignment? Read on for tips from a lawyer for college students.

My professor sent me an email accusing me of taking part of my code from another source, what should I do?

I have worked with several computer programming students who state that some code can be considered common knowledge while other code is written in a unique way. This is where an accusation can become a challenge. Does the professor consider any code to be “common knowledge?” Even if they believe in common knowledge code, were you allowed to use it in your assignment? Before you build a defense against cheating, you need to figure out what part of your code they are saying is plagiarized.

I am new to computer programming and needed to look up syntax and error messages. My professor is saying I cheated because I used an outside reference. What now?

Some professors allow the students to utilize reference sources and these are typically outlined in the course syllabus. Using an unapproved source can lead to a charge of cheating or gaining an academic advantage. A professor who is taking the time to tell you exactly the sources you can use, is telling you this for a reason. Wandering from the approved list can get you into trouble.

All my code was original, I just got some help from a friend. Why is this cheating?

Computer science teachers want to see your process and what you are learning. Not your friends. You write code just like you would write an English essay – with your own voice. Get help with writing your code – your coding voice changes. This is the number one way that students get caught for unauthorized assistance.

What are the consequences for cheating on a computer programming assignment?

An “F” If the professor feels that you cheated or received unauthorized help, you can receive an F. Whether it is an F on the assignment or an F in the course depends on the situation, professor, and school. Some universities see cheating as a “teachable moment” and try to help students understand what they did wrong. Others have a zero-tolerance policy. Suspension or Expulsion from School The school handbook outlines all of the university’s rules, requirements and policies. If your school views cheating and plagiarism as serious, just one charge of cheating can lead to suspension or expulsion Your ReputationIf a student is formally disciplined at school, you must disclose this to other schools and professional boards in the future. This means that your academic and professional career can be put in jeopardy. Any other college a student applies for will ask if there have been any academic violations, and the student’s transcript will be marked as dismissed for an academic integrity violation.

Can a lawyer who represents college students help students defend against a charge of cheating in computer programming?

Yes. I assist students all over the US defend against academic cheating charges. Each student’s situation is unique, and my defense strategy depends on the situation. As a lawyer for college issues, my expertise in the university disciplinary process gives each student the best chance for success.

Can you help all college students?

Yes. I help students all over the country fight accusations of cheating. By working closely with students, I give them the greatest chance at success. I also attend academic integrity hearings with students to give on the spot support.

You get only one chance at success. Make it your best.

Richard Asselta is an award-winning lawyer who handles all college issues and offers student defense adviser services throughout the United States. He is experienced in defending all types of college issues including cheating. Call Asselta Law today for a free consultation and protect your education. (855) 338-5299 Click here to read what clients are saying about Richard Asselta on AVVO, a lawyer review website.