Course Hero

While Course Hero has been around for some time now, many parents and even students have only recently become familiar with the platform. Whether you're just now learning about Course Hero or you're a long-time Course Hero user, there are a number of important issues you should understand concerning how your academic career can be negatively impacted by the use of the online platform. For most, Course Hero is a worthwhile resource, but its use can result in a slippery slope.

While Course Hero is intended as a tool to help students achieve their academic goals, it can sometimes be misused. Still yet, some students may be accused of misusing the online resource when they hadn't or didn't realize they were. In each of these scenarios, students face a severe risk to their academic and professional futures if their Course Hero use is found to violate their school's academic misconduct policies.

Course Hero Basics

Course Hero is an online platform that connects students and educators with each other and a plethora of educational resources. While students can pay a fee to access the information that Course Hero provides, they can also utilize Course Hero by exchanging their own educational resources for access to new content.

The types of educational materials contained on Course Hero include:

  • Lecture notes
  • Textbook solutions
  • 24/7 access to tutors
  • Student notes

The argument for Course Hero is that it provides students with access to meaningful academic help at all hours of the day. This level of access has been critically important to some, especially in times of restricted campus access due to Covid-19 related remote learning mandates. Even when remote learning isn't an issue, college students are no stranger to working on homework through late nights, and traditional college tutors aren't available during these hours. Course Hero solves that problem.

Course Hero caters to collegiate academics, and it provides educational materials that correspond to specific courses offered by colleges and universities throughout the nation. Subjects range from Literature to Astrophysics and everything in between. In total, Course Hero claims to have “over 30 million course-specific study resources contributed by a community of students and educators.”

Is Using Course Hero Cheating?

Although Course Hero asserts itself as a resource intended to help students improve their academic prowess, there are some claims that use of the online platform constitutes cheating. Importantly, if a student uses Course Hero as outlined by the platform policies, they probably aren't cheating in most circumstances. The problem is that it can be difficult for students to understand whether or not their use of Course Hero violates their school's Academic Integrity Policies or Honor Code.

For its part, the Course Hero website provides some guidance concerning its own Honor Code, stating, “We expect our users to act with academic integrity. Therefore, anyone who misuses our site for the express purpose of cheating and/or claiming another user's content as their own will be met with appropriate action.”

Course Hero also notes that in complying with their platform's Honor Code, users should NOT:

  • “Copy solutions directly from Course Hero resources and submit them as your own work.”
  • “Upload another person's study materials to Course Hero and claim them as your own study materials.”
  • “Use Course Hero materials or tutors to complete assignments when instructed not to use outside help.”
  • “Use Course Hero in any manner that violates your instructors' or institution's academic honor codes.”

It's important that students understand they may be violating their school's policies even when they haven't copied answers or uploaded work that's not their own.

What Do College Honor Codes and Academic Misconduct Codes Say about Course Hero?

Each college and university has its own Honor Code, Academic Misconduct Code, or some combination thereof. Every student is charged with abiding by the school's rules, but few students really take a chance to familiarize themselves with their school's rules until after they've been accused of academic misconduct.

Few, if any, schools will explicitly name Course Hero in a list of prohibitions, but a school's policies may implicitly make the use of Course Hero a misconduct violation. For example, Arizona State University's Academic Integrity Policy describes academic dishonesty as:

Possessing, reviewing, buying, selling, obtaining, posting on a site accessible to others, reviewing materials from a site accessible to others, or using, without appropriate authorization, any materials intended to be used for an Academic Evaluation in advance of its administration…

In the description of academic dishonesty above, using Course Hero to access test notes or test answers, or using the platform to upload these materials, would be a punishable violation.

The University of Colorado, Boulder, provides an even more direct prohibition of services like Course Hero, stating:

Sharing course materials, including but not limited to personal notes, in an unauthorized online bank or forum, whether for profit or for free, is strongly discouraged and may result in a referral to the Honor Code.

It's important for college students to understand that their school's Honor Code may more explicitly ban uploading to Course Hero than downloading from it. This is the case with the University of Colorado, Boulder's policy. Of course, this doesn't mean a student can download from Course Hero with reckless abandon either. The school's policy also prohibits the use of another's notes when the course instructor says not to.

Types of College Academic Misconduct

Using Course Hero to aid with your studies or homework is most often a legitimate use of the platform. That said, some students may run into academic misconduct troubles because of a poor understanding of what actually constitutes academic misconduct. There are several actions that constitute academic misconduct, and while the use of Course Hero may not break your school's rules, issues could arise in the way a student uses the Course Hero materials.

Course Hero and Plagiarism

Plagiarism is one of the more common academic misconduct offenses students are accused of. While plagiarizing is sometimes obvious, there are also times when the act of plagiarism is unintentional. Importantly, most school disciplinary boards won't just let a student off the hook because the student didn't realize they were committing the offense of plagiarism.

Colleges and universities will each have their own specific rules concerning plagiarism, for example, California State University - Sacramento defines plagiarism as the acts of:

  • “Incorporating the ideas, words, sentences, paragraphs, or parts thereof, or the specific substance of another's work, without giving appropriate credit, and representing the product as one's own work.
  • “Representing another's artistic or scholarly works such as musical compositions, computer programs, photographs, paintings, drawing, sculptures, or similar works as one's own.”

Cornell University, gives a similar but slightly different description of plagiarism, providing:

Plagiarism is misrepresenting somebody else's intellectual work - ideas, information, writing, thinking - as your own. In other words, it is a misuse of source material. Whether intentional or unintentional, plagiarism is a serious violation of Cornell's Code of Academic Integrity.

A student's use of Course Hero can sometimes result in a plagiarism violation. When a student downloads materials from Course Hero, they're already using resources created/uploaded by another. College instructors and professors often run student work through sophisticated plagiarism tracking software. While it's unlikely that the Course Hero materials will trigger a violation if the work was original to begin with, there's always the risk that the uploaded work wasn't original. This could lead to improper citations or inadvertent plagiarism.

Cheating and Course Hero

While plagiarism could be considered cheating, most schools will set out separate cheating definitions apart from their plagiarism rules. For example, Tulane Universitydefines cheating as:

Giving, receiving, or using, or attempting to give, receive, or use unauthorized assistance, information, or study aids in academic work, or preventing or attempting to prevent another from using authorized assistance, information, or study aids.

Whether or not using Course Hero is considered cheating by your college or university may depend on whether your course instructor has prohibited the use of outside materials. It would be uncommon for a professor to require a blanket prohibition of outside materials for use, but students should pay attention to the parameters of each assignment. An instructor is likely to bar students from using outside resources like Course Hero for take-home tests or even some homework assignments.

As students see a shift in their coursework to online models, they may also find more restrictions in place regarding the use of outside resources. Though some critics are quick to say online learning could lead to more cheating, Pasadena Community College provides:

There is little evidence to suggest that online and hybrid students are more likely to cheat. In fact, the few studies that have researched this issue found that online students were less likely to engage in academic dishonesty than those in face-to-face classes.

Just because studies show students are less likely to cheat in a remote setting doesn't mean they won't still run the risk of being accused of using Course Hero inappropriately. If you want to use Course Hero without violating the terms of your school's academic integrity policy, you should:

  • Thoroughly familiarize yourself with your school's Academic Integrity Policy and/or Honor Code
  • Adhere to the course expectations set forth in each course's syllabus
  • Follow specific instructions for individual class assignments regarding use of outside resources
  • Ensure you are using Course Hero as it's intended, and avoid cheating or plagiarizing

Some students take each of the above-stated precautions and more when it comes to utilizing Course Hero responsibly. Even then, they could be accused of violating their school's Academic Integrity code. If you've been accused of cheating with Course Hero, you should talk to an experienced student discipline defense attorney who will help you work through and overcome the disciplinary action your school may take against you.

Additional Academic Integrity Issues Arising from Course Hero Use

Plagiarism and cheating are the most common forms of academic misconduct, but they are by no means the only way a student can get in trouble with their school or university for misusing Course Hero. Other acts that a student may be accused of if they misuse Course Hero include:

  • Collusion occurs if you work with another on a project, assignment, or test that is intended for individual learning or evaluation
  • Dishonesty might occur when you complete assigned work through a false assertion of having followed the rules
  • Failing to Safeguard Work could occur if you upload your own work for another's use on Course Hero
  • Obtaining Advanced Information might be alleged if you use Course Hero to gain insight into upcoming exams, especially if the instructor has failed to update their exam questions
  • Unauthorized Assistance might become an issue if you utilize Course Hero for homework help when your instructor has instructed you not to do so
  • Violating Testing Conditions might occur when you take an exam or quiz remotely and access Course Hero materials for help even when the exam is “closed book”

The above list is not exhaustive, and if you want to know whether your use of Course Hero violates your school's Academic Misconduct Code, you'll need to make sure you understand the policies at your specific college or university. If you suspect you've violated the Honor Code at your school and might face disciplinary action, contact an experienced student discipline defense attorney-advisor right away.

Does Course Hero Protect Students from Allegations of Academic Misconduct?

Some university students may assume that Course Hero has built-in protections that would prevent a school from pursuing disciplinary action against them for using the online platform. This assumption, however, is incorrect. Even though Course Hero is a resource a student can use to improve their overall understanding of their academic program, if you get into trouble for using Course Hero, you'll have to defend yourself without the platform's help.

In its guidance, Course Hero provides:

...you must follow your school's academic integrity policy. Each college and university spells out what is expected of you…Read through your school's policy in detail. You may also find it helpful to read other schools' policies—some do an especially great job of showing examples of academic do's and don'ts.

Although the primary responsibility of using Course Hero remains with the student, it can help to know that Course Hero doesn't notify your school if you subscribe or upload content to the online platform. A student can expect a certain level of anonymity when using Course Hero, however, there might be times when your identity is more vulnerable to discovery by your school or instructors. For instance, if you upload content that is subject to copyright, then the owner of that copyright could find out. Many class materials created by an instructor or professor are subject to copyright, so you should take care when sharing content that could create copyright issues.

Student Misconduct Accusations for Course Hero Copyright Violations

While most of the violations a student could be accused of for misusing Course Hero relate to college or university Academic Integrity policies, you should be aware that copyright infringement violations will probably invoke your school's Student Misconduct Code. Student Misconduct Codes are concerned with student behavioral issues rather than academic concerns.

Although student misconduct codes are concerned with conduct like assault, hazing, disruptive behavior, and Title IX violations, a student could also get in trouble for violating the law. For example, the student misconduct policies at Texas Tech University provide:

Misconduct which may constitute a violation of federal, state, local laws, and/or Texas Tech University policy may be considered a violation of University policy and may be investigated through the University conduct system. A lack of conviction in any criminal proceeding will not, in and of itself, serve as evidence in or resolve a university conduct proceeding.

Copyright violations are considered a violation of federal law, and as such, a student who commits an act of copyright violation could also find themselves in trouble with their school's student misconduct disciplinary board.

If you're accused of violating your school's Student Conduct Code, you need to hire a skilled and experienced student misconduct defense attorney who will help you navigate the disciplinary investigation and proceedings you might face.

How You Could Be Accused of Academic Misconduct for Using Course Hero Materials

You could be accused of cheating, plagiarizing, or committing another form of academic misconduct, whether you've violated your school's policies or not. Sometimes students are falsely accused of cheating after performing better than expected. Ironically, the entire point of Course Hero is to help students perform better. Still, instructors or even jealous classmates, who notice an enhancement in your grades, may raise a red flag and claim you've cheated.

Students and instructors are often required to report violations of a school's Honor Code, and in the interest of upholding their own duty, they will alert the administration of suspected instances of cheating. From their perspective, it's a “better safe than sorry” scenario.

If you're accused, even when it's an unfounded accusation, you need to take your defense seriously. Too many students think that they don't need to seriously defend unfounded allegations against them after they've been accused of misusing materials from Course Hero. Simply put, the stakes are too high to ignore your defense, even when the claims against you are frivolous.

How You Could Be Accused of Misconduct for Uploading Your Materials to Course Hero

As discussed above, you could also be accused of academic misconduct or general student misconduct for uploading your own materials to the Course Hero platform. The primary rules you might break for uploading materials include copyright violations and failing to safeguard work.

Misuse of Course Hero by uploading content is often less obvious to college instructors than misuse via using content that's been downloaded. Still, if you've uploaded old exams or homework assignments in a manner that goes against your school's Honor Code or your instructor's class policies, you run a risk. What could happen is that another student could get caught using the materials you've uploaded. In turn, that student may admit they downloaded materials from Course Hero. Ultimately, an investigation into the matter could end up zeroing in on the student that uploaded the materials, to begin with.

What Happens When a College Student is Disciplined for Using Course Hero?

The academic disciplinary process can be overwhelming to those who've never gone through it before. Most of the time, students accused of academic violations haven't had experience with these types of proceedings. That's why it's so important to speak to an experienced student discipline defense attorney if you're accused of academic misconduct after using Course Hero: experienced guidance can mean the difference between a slap on the wrist and full expulsion.

Every college and university has its own misconduct and disciplinary procedure; however, for the most part, these procedures are pretty similar. Those accused will receive a formal notice of an investigation into the accusation. If the investigation reveals cause for a disciplinary hearing, then a hearing will be held. You and your attorney-advisor will have an opportunity to present your side of the story at the hearing.

Formal Notice

A formal notice may occur after a faculty member suspects a student has committed an act of academic wrongdoing. Some schools will encourage the instructor to speak to the student to try and handle the issue without involving formal proceedings. Once a formal complaint is made by a faculty member to the dean, the student will receive formal notice. Most of the time, the student will have an opportunity to respond to the notice in writing.

The Disciplinary Hearing

If the matter can't be resolved between the student and the faculty member, the issue will be sent to your school's Academic Integrity Committee. The committee will often be comprised of individuals chosen by the committee chairperson and will usually include both voting and non-voting members. The committee will look at the facts of your case, and any evidence you've been able to provide that may demonstrate your side of the story.

If the committee finds that the allegations against you are unjust, then you'll be able to resume your coursework as though nothing happened. The board may find cause to impose sanctions against you.

Sanctions

The type of sanctions a student may be subject to after disciplinary accusations for Course Hero violations will vary depending on how serious the offense was. A student who accidentally plagiarized from Course Hero materials may not face as stiff a penalty as a student who repeatedly used Course Hero to copy homework or test answers. Sanctions could include:

  • A formal warning
  • A grade correction/reduction
  • Academic probation
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion

Depending on your school, or even your specific program, the sanctions levied against you may remain confidential, or they could go into your permanent record. Negative comments in your permanent record could affect your ability to gain admission into professional schools or jeopardize your internship opportunities.

Appealing the Disciplinary Board Decision

If you receive unfair or unfavorable sanctions, you will have the opportunity to appeal the Academic Integrity Committee's decision. Generally, your appeal must be made in writing, and it must also be submitted to the board or the dean within a specific time period. Many schools require the appeal to be submitted within ten days of the Academic Integrity Committee's decision, and a failure to strictly adhere to the procedure will result in a denial of your appeal.

The Long-Term Impacts of Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Actions

Universities take academic integrity seriously. While Course Hero can be a tool that aids a student's academic progress, it may also trigger a negative response from your instructors or professors. The irony is that students and universities generally want the same thing: for students to excel. Using Course Hero, however, can create a certain risk that will have long-lasting impacts on your academic and professional careers.

Depending on where you are in your collegiate career, the impacts of cheating accusations may be harsher. For example, if you're disciplined for misusing Course Hero, the proceedings could go in your permanent record. Your permanent record is reviewed by admissions directors for higher education programs like law school or medical school. Ultimately, those accused of violating their school's Honor Codes could lose out on an opportunity to pursue their educational dreams at the school of their choosing. Negative points contained within your permanent record may not entirely preclude a student from getting into law school, but a negative note will make a student less desirable and therefore less competitive. These students may have to settle for admission to a school that's less prestigious.

Violations of your school's Academic Integrity Policies because you were accused of cheating with Course Hero can affect everything from professional school acceptance to internship opportunities. In turn, these missed opportunities could influence the type of job you get after graduation. If you've used Course Hero and are now facing the threat of disciplinary action from your school, you need to speak to Course Hero's defense attorney-advisor.

While the threat of academic sanctions may not seem like a big deal in the moment, students and parents must understand how far-reaching negative statements on your academic record can be.

Defending Yourself Against Academic Misconduct Accusations for Using Course Hero

If you're facing disciplinary action after using Course Hero for one of your college courses, there are a few steps you should take to ensure you have the best possible outcome. At a bare minimum, students should:

  • Step 1: Stay calm and review your school's Honor Code
  • Step 2: Talk to a student misconduct defense attorney
  • Step 3: Discontinue the activity that led to misconduct accusations
  • Step 4: Don't discuss your case with friends
  • Step 5: Don't discuss your case online

Academic misconduct accusations should be taken seriously, but that doesn't mean you should panic. Many college instructors don't understand the nature of Course Hero, and they can be quick to think you've cheated when you haven't. You should respond to the allegations politely and discuss the issue with your attorney-advisor. Your Course Hero defense attorney-advisor will help facilitate conversation between you and your university. Experienced academic misconduct defense attorneys understand how to communicate with the academic disciplinary committees to help you receive an outcome that will reduce the negative impact on your future.

Before, during, and after the Academic Disciplinary Committee's review of your case, you also need to avoid saying or posting anything related to the investigation. In the age of constant sharing on social media, this can be difficult. It's important that you keep the details of your situation between only you and your attorney-advisor.

When students get in trouble for using Course Hero, everyone suffers. It's a scary time for parents and students alike, but with the help of a skilled attorney-advisor, you'll be better able to overcome the accusations and move on with your ultimate goal: acquiring an important education.

Contact a Skilled Course Hero Defense Lawyer

Attorney Joseph D. Lento understands how stressful academic misconduct accusations are for parents and students. Mr. Lento is vastly experienced in defending students accused of cheating or other forms of academic misconduct, and he knows that in addition to a serious defense, you also need someone who will be able to communicate the process to you.

Defending a student in an academic setting requires excellent communication and a deep understanding of the administrative processes. Mr. Lento and his team at The Lento Law Firm have multi-state experience defending students at Ivy League schools, state schools, private schools, and more. Every case is unique, and each student's education is of the utmost importance.

If you're facing academic discipline for using Course Hero, contact the Lento Law Firm right away at 888-535-3686, or contact us online.

Contact Us Today!

footer-2.jpg

If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

Menu