Academic Policy

The purpose of this document is to set forth the specific policies and practices that must be adhered to by all students enrolled in a computer science course. These policies and practices will be briefed in all computer science courses at the beginning of every semester. Ignorance of these policies and practices is not an excuse for failing to comply.

On Being A Professional in Computer Science

As a computer science major and, in particular, a student in the St. Bonaventure Computer Science Department, you are embarking on a demanding and exciting career field. The challenges can be rewarding both personally and financially. Your ability to confront problems and develop solutions should be the greatest motivation for wanting to be a professional in computer science. Your studies while a student in the Computer Science Department will provide you with pre-requisite knowledge for working in your chosen career field. But success in computer science also depends upon certain work habits and characteristics of a professional. Therefore, by the time you approach graduation, if not before, you should acquire the following traits, as expected by the faculty and your peers in the Computer Science Department.

A student aspiring to being a professional in computer science...

  • Behaves in an ethical manner, respecting copyrights, patents, licenses and ownership of software and hardware;
  • Takes responsibility for understanding the requirements of an assignment and is pro-active in seeking clarification when necessary;
  • Takes responsibility for knowing due dates and adhering to those dates;
  • Has a concern for detail and takes pride in the work he/she produces;
  • Respects the mission of others and does not cause a disruption to others in meeting their mission;
  • Takes responsibility for knowing and fulfilling the supervisor’s expectations when working at any job within the department and the university;
  • Takes pride in being a professional and preserving the Computer Science Department’s reputation when involved with others beyond the department and the university.

Grading Philosophy

Carrying out an assignment and submitting it for a grade is a well established aspect of the educational process. When grading the work, the instructor is judging how well you understand the problem and its solution. It is, in turn, your authorship and expression of ideas through the work that is being judged. Excellent authorship and quality work does require time spent in organizing information and ideas and preparing the final product for submission. It is the time spent in organizing materials, reflecting on ideas and then authoring the final product that provides the greatest educational benefit to you. Instructors recognize that students may want to seek “help” in the preparation of their work. Since “help” may come from a variety of sources and take many different forms, instructors will restrict and define the level of help that is acceptable for a particular assignment and will achieve the educational goal of the assignment.

The level of help that you may receive will fall into one of the following four categories.

Individual project without collaboration on graded work means that students may receive help only from an instructor in that course, course texts, other published material, and personal course notes. Use of any material produced by other students at any time for the graded assignment is prohibited. Discussion of aspects of the assignment with other students is prohibited. Editing and proofreading by others is prohibited. The statement printed with the assignment setting forth the help policy for the assignment will be:

Help Policy In Effect for This Assignment: Individual Project Without Collaboration.
You may receive help from the following persons, in addition to an instructor in this course: NONE.
You may use the following materials produced by other students: NONE.

Limited collaboration on graded work means that you may discuss with other students enrolled in the course the assignment and any concepts that may help you understand the assignment. However, you may NOT use any materials produced by other students in completing the assignment. Students must do the assignment and be the author of the work submitted for grading. In the case of a programming exercise, you may discuss the assignment with other students enrolled in the course BUT may NOT jointly implement the program or any portion thereof. Also, you may NOT use another student’s program or any portion thereof as a source of help. The statement printed with the assignment setting forth the help policy for the assignment will be in the following form:

Help Policy in Effect for This Assignment: Individual Project With Limited Collaboration You may discuss the assignment and concepts related to the assignment with the following persons, in addition to an instructor in this course: any St. Bonaventure Computer Science instructor, any student enrolled in CSxxx, and any other person specifically approved by your instructor.
You may use the following materials produced by other students: NONE.

The pedagogical benefits of collaboration are well established. In addition to helping one to understand the concepts involved in the assignment, collaboration reinforces familiarity with the course material for the student providing the assistance, provided that it is given “actively.” We therefore limit assistance to those students currently enrolled in the course and prohibit “passive” assistance, which includes providing code listings in any form (verbal dictation, hardcopy or electronic copy). For this reason, only verbal assistance from other students in the course is authorized and no materials produced by other students can be used during “help” sessions. As a general rule of thumb, when a graded assignment allows limited collaboration, an acceptable level of help from another student is what you would typically expect to receive from an instructor. For example, you may:

  • Ask another student how to fix a syntax error at a specific location in your program.
  • Ask another student what may be the cause of a run-time error created by your program.
  • Ask another student how to use a feature of the system and/or software.

You may NOT receive a level of help from another student beyond that which would typically be provided from an instructor.For example, you would not expect an instructor to simply give you the solution to a problem verbatim, although you would expect help with specific questions regarding algorithms and concepts particular to the assignment. You should clarify with your instructor the limits of allowed help on the assignment if you are not sure. Regardless, the following practices are unacceptable at any time:

  • Electronically copying the work of another student over any medium with or without the permission of the student.
  • Manually copying the work of another student from a listing or other printed source.
  • Making modifications to another student’s work in an attempt to disguise it as work that you authored.
  • Being “coached” by another student while writing the program code for the assignment.
  • Any combination of the above.

Learning to work in groups may be a goal of an assignment. For such an assignment, the help policy allows for full collaboration between students assigned to the same group BUT there shall be no collaboration of any form between groups. The statement printed with the assignment setting forth the help policy for the assignment will be:

Help Policy In effect for This Assignment: Group Project Without Collaboration
In particular, you may receive help from the following persons, in addition to an instructor in this course: members of your group.
You may use the following materials produced by other students: materials produced by members of your group.

Individual project without collaboration on graded work means that students may receive help only from an instructor in that course, course texts, other published material, and personal course notes. Use of any material produced by other students at any time for the graded assignment is prohibited. Discussion of aspects of the assignment with other students is prohibited. Editing and proofreading by others is prohibited. The statement printed with the assignment setting forth the help policy for the assignment will be:

Help Policy In Effect for This Assignment: Individual Project Without Collaboration.
You may receive help from the following persons, in addition to an instructor in this course: NONE.
You may use the following materials produced by other students: NONE.

What is "Unacceptable Aid"?

If you are working as part of a group, you may assist each other in any way you wish. When working with other groups, or in all cases when working as individuals, it is the responsibility of both parties to ensure that unacceptable aid is not given. It is generally acceptable to discuss general approaches to a solution, but the sharing of specific code is generally prohibited. Thus, if person A looks at person B’s code and points out the cause of a syntax error, that is fine; if person A gives person B a flash drive with the solution, that is not. The challenge comes with the cases that fall in between. A good general rule is that: If person A needs to look closely at person B’s code – on the screen or on a listing – then the aid is unacceptable. A good way to avoid this is to work in such a way that the focus is on the code of the person asking the question, not on the code of the person answering the question.

Penalties for Violation of Help Policy

If an instructor suspects that unacceptable aid has been given, the instructor has the right to request an interview with the student(s) involved in which case each will be asked to explain the material (usually code) in question.   If the instructor is not satisfied with the answers given at this interview, then a grade of zero will be assigned for the portion of the work in question.   If this happens repeatedly – or if the dissatisfaction extends to a significant percentage of the assignment – the incident may be considered a violation of the help policy. 

If you submit for a grade work, or any portion thereof, that reflects a violation of the help policy in effect for the assignment, the course instructor will assign, in consultation with the Computer Science Department Chairman, zero (0) points for the work. For repeated violations of the help policy over several assignments in a course, the course instructor may assign you, in consultation with the Computer Science Department Chairman, a failing grade for the course.

Minimum Competency on Programming Assignments

All programming assignments will state the requirements for minimum competency. In general, a program satisfying the minimum competency requirements must compile, run, correctly implement a subset of the full assignment requirements, and terminate cleanly. The purpose of minimum competency requirements in a course that requires programming is to ensure that all students passing the course are able to develop working software. Turn-ins that do not satisfy the stated minimum competency requirements for an assignment will receive a maximum of 50% of the total points for the assignment.

Minimum GPA Requirement for Maintaining Major Status

In order to receive the Bachelor’s degree in computer science from St. Bonaventure University, you must have a major’s GPA of at least 2.0 at the time of graduation. To give students a chance to qualify for another disciplinary major early in their course of study, students majoring in computer science must have at least a 1.7 major GPA by the completion of CS 132 and at least a 2.0 major GPA by the completion of CS 231 and CS 234.

Students who fail to meet these requirements will lose their status as computer Science majors.

Transfer students are subject to the same requirements upon completion of equivalent courses. Transfer students not meeting the targets in the equivalent courses will be denied status as computer science majors. Students who wish to regain status as a computer science major have one semester to do so.

Courtesy Policy on Use of Computing Resources

As a member of the St. Bonaventure University Computer Science community, you agree to treat all users of the Computer Science Department’s computing resources with courtesy. This means that you shall take no action that inhibits others in the learning process. A (partial) list of prohibited actions includes:

  • Using machines for non-academic purposes while others need them for academic work;
  • Denying another access to a specific device through the use of a particular machine. Remember that some devices (e.g., scanners, cameras, etc) cannot be shared;
  • Turning off file sharing or write-protecting a shared device;
  • Locking the screen or otherwise prohibiting other users from utilizing a machine while you are away;
  • Installing unlicensed or illegally obtained software;
  • Deleting files and folders not created by you;
  • Impersonating another user. This includes logging into another account, forging messages, or even just using another’s account without explicit permission;
  • Attempting to defeat the system’s security for any purpose;
  • Creating a noisy environment at any time regardless of whether the source is conversation, music, or sound effects from the machines;
  • Modifying or removing any computer hardware, software or manuals;
  • Using a lab printer to print sizeable documents for non-CS courses, e.g. sets of PowerPoints lectures; such printing should be done in public labs.

Violations of the courtesy policy will be dealt with on a case by case basis by the Computer Science faculty. Serious violations may result in the loss of access to the facilities.