I wrote an exam a couple of months ago and I recently received an email accusing me of academic misconduct. I had just finished my first year of university and this is the first time that I am receiving a letter of this kind.
One of the long answers that I had written matched an answer that was posted online on a homework solutions website.
Now due to Covid-19, this exam was an online open-book exam, I had interpreted the open book exam to mean that we could have our notes and our lecture slides with us. The weeks leading to the exam, I had searched up practice questions online and had written and solved them out on paper to have with me during the exam just in case a similar question came up.
Sure enough one of the practice questions that I had was very similar to the one on the exam. Thus, I had an easy time answering it and pretty much reused what I had written on my notes. I don't think that's cheating if I only looked at my notes on an open book exam. Also, the exam had a lot of math calculations and conclusion statements to go with it. Most questions like this have similar steps/conclusions.
I had contacted a student advocate to help me with my case and I'm supposed to write an opening statement to present to a meeting with the dean of the department.
The evidence against me seems very strong. If I am found guilty, I would get an F on the class and be suspended from taking courses for the months of May-August. But, I am already in the process of finishing 4-5 classes this summer. I am distressed that all of my money and hard work would all be wasted.
Is my evidence sufficient? What other evidence could I use to prove that I didn't commit academic misconduct? What should I write on my opening statement?
- I sifted through his emails regarding the final, and this was what he had written: "Open-Book final exam. Despite the final exam being open-book you still need to be well prepared otherwise- you will not have enough time to finish the exam if you spend a lot of time looking through your notes." No other explanations were provided. Perhaps it was my fault that I didn't ask for clarifications and just assumed.
- My notes and the solutions were very similar, but the conclusion was different. I had tried to solve the problem on my own, but referenced the solution when I got stuck.