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Is Using Course Hero Cheating?

Course Hero has become an incredibly popular online learning platform, providing students with access to a vast database of study resources contributed by other users. However, as its use has grown, so too have concerns about academic integrity.

In this article, we’ll explore the pressing question – Is using Course Hero considered cheating?

What is Course Hero?

Before evaluating if using Course Hero qualifies as cheating, we need to understand what exactly the platform is. Course Hero is an online learning platform that provides access to study resources and materials for a variety of subjects.

Users can access over 60 million course-specific study resources contributed by students and educators globally. These include materials like:

Practice problems and sample questions

Study guides covering key concepts

Lecture notes and summaries

Example essays and paper critiques

Step-by-step solutions explaining problems

Flashcard decks for recall practice

The platform is designed to help students master challenging concepts, prepare for exams more effectively and supplement gaps in provided educational materials. All resources are crowd-sourced from other students and subject matter experts.

Users pay a subscription fee to access these materials, which are conveniently indexed by university, course, and text. This allows quick access to highly relevant content.

Is Course Hero Legit?

While Course Hero houses student-created content rather than official instructor materials, it is considered a legitimate academic support platform.

The company has established agreements with universities across North America, allowing professors to share supplementary course materials on the platform. It also adheres to strict copyright guidelines and has a team dedicated to identifying and removing any illegal or inappropriate uploads.

Additionally, Course Hero’s popularity speaks to its usefulness. At last count, the site boasted over 95 million resources and 60 million monthly users.

So yes, Course Hero is a fully legitimate platform that aims to facilitate more effective learning through peer resource sharing. 

Is Using Course Hero Considered Cheating?

Whether using Course Hero is classified as cheating ultimately depends on how exactly you utilize the platform.

Broadly, the site is intended to provide helpful supplementary materials to enhance your learning. Used appropriately and ethically, it is a perfectly legitimate study tool. However, in certain scenarios, accessing answers without permission could be considered academic dishonesty or misconduct.

How Does Course Hero Work?

Course Hero is essentially a giant repository of crowdsourced study materials encompassing most academic subjects.

As a user, you pay a monthly fee to access this database of over 60 million study resources, including materials like past exams, sample essays, textbook solutions, class notes, study guides, and more.

All resources are contributed by other students who’ve completed the course, graduates, or verified course educators. Each resource is conveniently categorized by university, course, textbook, etc, allowing easy access to highly relevant materials.

When signing up, users even provide details of their academic institution and courses they are enrolled in or have completed previously. This powers Course Hero’s relevance-matching algorithms, connecting you to the best content.

Are the Answers on this Platform Reliable?

After all, these resources are predominantly student-created rather than officially provided by course instructors.

However, Course Hero employs stringent controls to ensure quality. All users must verify their academic email address before accessing materials. Contributed solutions are carefully reviewed with inappropriate or unreliable uploads promptly removed. Users can even flag concerns directly.

Experts have found the crowdsourced model, combined with rigorous quality control, makes solutions on the site generally accurate and reliable. In fact, spot checks suggest the error rate is comparable with official solutions manuals.

Additionally, educators can directly upload supplementary materials on Course Hero and officially sponsor their course, offering students a “verified educator” badge. This offers an extra credibility stamp.

While not officially instructor-provided, the crowdsourced solutions and materials available on Course Hero generally offer academically reliable content. But can your teacher know if you’ve accessed these external resources?

Can Teachers Tell if You Have to Use Course Hero?

Unlike plagiarizing online content or copying a classmate’s work, there is no way for an instructor to technically detect if you’ve utilized Course Hero. Your access is entirely confidential.

Even if your submission matches content from Course Hero, without proof you viewed the material, your instructor has no way of determining the actual origin. Just ensure you do not directly copy materials, which we’ll cover shortly.

What Constitutes Cheating In School?

To evaluate if using Course Hero qualifies as academically dishonest, we need to define cheating in a school context. Broadly, the following constitute clear forms of cheating:

Copying From Another Student

Viewing another student’s test responses during an exam or copying their work on assignments is unequivocally cheating in an academic context.

Allowing Other Students To Copy Your Work

Similarly, sharing your own assignment work or test answers and enabling another student to copy your efforts qualifies as collusion – another form of unambiguous cheating.

Using Materials Without Permission During Tests

Referencing any external study aids, including written notes, technology, or tools, to provide an advantage during exams without permission from the instructor is considered cheating. 

Collaborating On A Test Without Permission

Discussing questions with other students during an exam or communicating answers in any form obviously violates testing integrity policies.

3rd-Party Completion Of An Assignment

Outsourcing the completion of assessments like essays, reports, or homework to external sources like tutors or online writing services constitutes clear cheating.

Copying From Online Sources

Passing off content directly copied from online platforms or databases without proper referencing or credit also qualifies as outright plagiarism – breaching academic integrity standards.

Cheating involves malicious actions like lying, deception, dishonesty, and stealing. But could accessing crowdsourced study guides and sample solutions on Course Hero also fall into the cheating bucket? Let’s find out.

When Is Using Course Hero Considered Cheating?

Given Course Hero is designed to facilitate more effective study, use in itself does not constitute cheating. However, utilizing the platform in the following ways could potentially violate academic integrity:

Paying A Tutor To Complete Your Assignment

While Course Hero offers access to handy study resources, actually paying an available online tutor to complete your homework or write your essay constitutes clear cheating. This violates policies around authentic student work and outsourcing assessments.

School Bans Use Of External Sites Like Course Hero

If your particular academic institution prohibits the use of third-party study platforms, disregarding this directive by accessing Course Hero anyway could be deemed cheating. Ensure you check your school’s specific academic integrity policies.

Verbatim Copy-Pasting Of Solutions

While accessing a sample essay for structure guidance is often permitted, directly copying and pasting blocks of text from Course Hero solutions into your own submissions likely constitutes plagiarism without appropriate referencing.

So, in specific scenarios where use violates authenticity, copyright, or institutional directives, Course Hero could potentially cross cheating boundaries. 

When Is Using Course Hero Not Considered Cheating?

Despite the potential issues outlined above, Course Hero is intended as a helpful academic instrument. Used as a reference tool rather than a crutch, common applications are perfectly valid, including:

Permitted By School

If your academic institution allows the utilization of third-party study platforms like Course Hero, enjoying this additional benefit poses no ethical concerns.

Use As A Guide

Referencing resources for structure and guidance to complete your own original work does not violate academic standards. For example, using a sample essay framework.

Alternative Answers

In subjects like math and science, often multiple working solutions exist to problems. Referencing alternate methods of solving coursework problems provided on Course Hero is perfectly acceptable academic practice.

Need Explanation

Accessing step-by-step explanations elucidating difficult theoretical concepts to supplement gaps in your own understanding is absolutely above board. Think of it like getting a personalized teaching session.

Cite References

Sourcing factual information like key statistics and properly citing these in your submissions is standard research practice rather than cheating.

Mock Test Preparation

Using past exams from previous years to sharpen your test-taking skills and knowledge poses no ethical dilemmas and can provide a helpful competitive edge.

How to Safely Use Course Hero

Accessing Course Hero ethically centers around utilizing the materials for their intended purpose – to supplement gaps in understanding rather than replace your own effort. Follow these tips for safe usage:

Check if your particular academic institution permits the use of third-party study platforms like Course Hero. Restrictions prohibiting external sites trump all else.

Treat the platform as an additional reference source providing a helpful explanation of where your knowledge is lacking. Think supplemental tutor, not cheat sheet.

Absorb the principles taught in tutorials and solutions to apply yourself. Understand key concepts rather than linearly copy.

Credit factual information used appropriately in your submissions. Passing insights as your own findings crosses plagiarism boundaries.

Flag any concerns over similarity with your own work. Demonstrating diligence earns credibility if questioned.

Adhering to these guidelines ensures you remain on the right side of academic integrity lines.

Can You Get Caught Using Course Hero?

As outlined previously, unless your faculty specifically prohibits sourcing external sites, the use of Course Hero itself offers confidentiality. Without proof you actually viewed incriminating content, teachers cannot definitively bust you.

However, failing to apply principles ethically can still land you in hot water. For example, directly copying and pasting a classmate’s submission shared on Course Hero is detectable plagiarism. Likewise, outsourcing an entire assignment earns more than a side-eye from your professor.

The key is to utilize Course Hero appropriately, focusing on comprehension rather than compromising integrity. The reference doesn’t replicate. Augment, don’t substitute your own efforts.

Can Course Hero Get You In Trouble?

As analyzed above, scandals around Course Hero predominantly relate to students attempting unethical shortcuts like:

Hiring available tutors to undertake entire assignments

Brazenly copying solutions as their own work

Ignoring school policies prohibiting external resource use

Uploading instructor materials like test questions

When utilized appropriately as a study enhancement tool, Course Hero offers no ethical pitfalls beyond perhaps procrastination! So, rather than banning this valuable asset, schools are increasingly offering guidance on safe usage to unlock its benefits while maintaining academic values.

Does Course Hero Give Correct Answers?

With crowdsourced solutions uploaded by thousands of students, some variance in quality inevitably exists. However, available materials offer academically credible content.

Past spot checks comparing sample solutions against official answers manuals demonstrated comparable accuracy. Plagiarism controls also promptly flag and remove any concerning uploads.

Is Using Course Hero Safe?

Used as intended, accessing Course Hero resources like supplemental explanations for confusing concepts or sample essays for structural guidance poses no ethical dilemmas. Treat the resources as additional learning support materials facilitating more effective study rather than cheat portals.

The tips shared earlier in this piece offer a framework for avoiding integrity pitfalls. Maintain this mindset, and Course Hero serves as a perfectly safe and legal academic asset.

Can You Get In Trouble For Uploading To Course Hero?

Some institutions take issue with students uploading instructor-provided solutions manuals or test banks to Course Hero, viewing this as copyright infringement or promoting cheating.

So, while accessing available study resources is typically condoned, uploading certain content could potentially prompt academic discipline based on school policy. Students have even been expelled.

Conclusion

Course Hero is an online platform where students upload study resources like class notes, exam questions, and project examples to share with others. While Course Hero’s educational resources can help students learn, misusing the member’s content by copying and pasting assignment answers directly from Course Hero is considered academic dishonesty and could get a student caught cheating.

Accessing Course Hero and Chegg as an online study resource is allowed, but students who plagiarize or gain an unfair advantage by submitting copied content from Course Hero as their own work violate the school code of ethics and may face disciplinary action like being permanently banned if caught by plagiarism detectors and scanners. The best practice is to use Course Hero as a study tool to help you understand concepts and write original papers in your own words.

While it can be tempting to use Course Hero answers directly, doing so violates most university policies against academic dishonesty. As long as students properly cite any sources and use Course Hero responsibly to enhance learning rather than misuse it by copying content, Course Hero is an allowable study resource. However, submitting work copied directly from Course Hero is considered cheating at most colleges and universities.

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