How do I sabotage my classmates' grades

I don't think it's generally unethical on to reference these solutions. This situation is more complex than I think some other answers have admitted. Here is a list of claims:

In an ideal world, the point of homework is for the student to learn the material.

  • In a perfectly ideal world, we would not have to grade homework as students would do it themselves to master the material. You could refer to others' solutions to see if theirs are correct and that would be fine.

  • Experience shows that this world is not perfect. Students often skip ungraded homework and their study and exam grades suffer as a result.

  • Therefore, the instructors assign homework for a class. But that's not because the grade is really important: we want students to do their homework and learn the material!

  • Some students then get the idea that the grade is the real goal of their homework and just copy their assignment from others. Professors often find this unacceptable.

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    An important point that others answered is that what you hand in should reflect your own understanding of the assignment when you hand in the homework. But it is just as important that it is important to grapple with problems for a while before searching for the answer. This is the only way you can really learn how to solve problems.

    Most professors accept that the internet exists - we know you can look up other people's answers. Fraternities used to have huge files of old homework and exam answers for this purpose (maybe they still do). And students study in groups all the time - research shows that study groups can increase learning dramatically. So getting help is not a bad thing.

    But you don't want to get help too quickly. Make a real effort to answer the problems yourself first. If you find that you look up the answers to all of the problems (even the simplest), something is wrong - try getting more tutoring. or learn more before doing homework.

    If you find yourself having to look up one of the toughest problems on occasion, that's perfectly normal (but still wouldn't excuse copying the solution right into your homework, of course).

    Of course, the usual caveats apply: some professors may specifically advise you not to collaborate with anyone or use other resources. However, most professors know that students usually work together on homework (such as study groups) and that students can use other resources to find answers. We have no problem with that, as long as each student's submission reflects their own understanding in the end.