I am in a bit of a pickle here.

I am in a course, and a student that I know quite well asked to collaborate with me on a project. I agreed. We started working on the project for 30 minutes, but I was the only one that continued (it took roughly 10 hours of work). Whenever I was working on the project, and asked the student to join, he never joined. I finished the project independently, but the student asked me to add him to my submission. To save face, I told the student that I did not finish the project, and added him to the version that we had worked on, and emailed the professor asking if I could submit the project over email instead so I would not have to add the student as a collaborator on the project.

The professor just reached out saying that he emailed the student for clarification, which puts me in a very sticky situation. I know the student quite well, and as I mentioned, I told him that I had not finished the project. Must my professor respect confidentiality in that matter? He did not ask before escalating the situation, but I do not know if he had to at all.

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    I'm very confused. It sounds like you sent the student your 30-mins-of-work version (with their name) and told them that this was the submitted version. But then you sent the 10-hours-of-work version (with only your name) to the professor. Is this correct? – cag51 Apr 28 at 20:47
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    Your behavior seems a bit dodgy to me, actually. Both in your actions with the student and the professor. The "pickle" is of your own making. – Buffy Apr 28 at 20:48
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    Also, is there some reason you expected the professor to treat your communication as confidential? – cag51 Apr 28 at 20:48
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    Was the project assigned/agreed upon as joint work? If so, do you want the other student to get a lesser grade then yourself? As faculty I would always get both students’ sides of a story. – Dawn Apr 28 at 20:49
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    @Dawn, and I seldom reward a student for "taking over" a joint project. – Buffy Apr 28 at 20:53

You should have gone to your professor with your problem, rather than your solution.

Your problem is that you were having trouble getting your peer to contribute, and felt like you did all the work on the project.

Your solution was wanting to clandestinely submit the finished version while lying to your peer.

I'm guessing your email wasn't particularly clear, but even if it was clear I don't fault your professor for reaching out to the other student on this. This is not the sort of "confidentiality" that relates to you personally, this is an interpersonal conflict between two students that you have implicitly asked your professor to solve. It's not reasonable to expect them to leave the other student out of it completely.

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Must my professor respect confidentiality in that matter?

Usually no. Information is only kept confidential if you make an agreement in advance that it be confidential.

Where applicable, FERPA requires that certain information be kept confidential. This does not mean a faculty member cannot ask a student if they contributed to an assignment. The grade would be confidential, but sending "requests for clarification" would be okay (depending on the content.)


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