I came across this question and as I am not a teacher I am a bit puzzled here. What is considered to be cheating in homework? I know that students may copy homework at the last minute from other students. But what if two kids submit the same homework, claiming they did it together? Is this legitimate? Or is it also cheating? (I am not referring to assignments that are meant for groups of students, but to regular assignments given to students routinely).
I also wonder, if there is a difference between copying your homework from Wikipedia and copying homework from another student?

When your students are concerned, do you prefer individual tasks or joint ventures? What are the considerations?

(cross posted on firesidelearning)

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I believe it is cheating if the the instructions were that the work be done independently.

In response to copying Wikipedia and another student's homework, it is essentially copying and not synthesized, so to me, it's the same.

Both independent learning and cooperative learning are essential to a child's skill development. On the one hand, cooperative learning is really valuable for developing social skills, organizational skills, a sense of responsibility, self-monitoring (pin-pointing areas of improvement), and initiative. Also, studies show that the mixing of various ability levels optimizes learning, whether they be stronger academically or weaker. On the other hand, independent learning is fundamental as well. It allows them to be responsible for their own education - goal-setting and self-monitoring, and is also valuable for building self-confidence. What if, for example a student needs to write his/her weekly report on explaining the cycle of photosynthesis, and two kids decide to pair up and collectively derive conclusions and ideas about the topic. To an extent, the students may expose not just the answers to each other, but a critical approach to the subject - a logical way of thinking that the other may not have thought of before. However, sometimes this team work creates a dependence and lack of autonomy in thought process. With team work, some students may be skipping the whole process of inductive/deductive reasoning, research, innovation etc. Even if it is for routine assignments, it's the process and evolution of their learning that is being observed. It's the teacher's and their own opportunity to monitor their learning curve and areas to improve on. That can't be regulated with frequent team work.

That's why activities on topics need to involve both individual and joint tasks. There's much to be learned from each.

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