By Robert Zavala
At the beginning of school semester the TV commercials fill our television with back to school sales. For most families saving money is a big deal and looking for the best sale is essential. When considering colleges, most students (or parents) consider cost as a factor. The cost of a four year institution verses a community college versus a private school. Students may also instructor shop by asking classmates what instructor they had for a certain class or visit websites such as ratemyprofessor.com. All of these situations seem intuitive and natural. Last week I was told some scholarship student (and probably non-scholarship students) are taking a College Algebra course On-Line at a private school in Texas.
On the surface this seems harmless and certainly their right to do so. When I inquired about their motive I was bothered. Butler’s On-Line College Algebra course requires students meet the pre-requisites, and three proctored exams, and a proctored final exam. At the institution in question they do not require proctored exams. Students take this course and use multiple ways of passing the non-proctored exams that are unethical. Students have no concern about Googling the problem and answer. Asking another student take their exam whenever possible. Or simply take the exam in the tutoring center and confidently ask for help on an exam.
The college’s policy for tutoring students is “as long as students have a Butler ID” they qualify for tutoring. Even if they are not taking the course at BCC. I thought this was odd but after thinking about it for a day or two I’ve come to terms with it. For example, suppose a student is enrolled at both WSU and BCC, they should be eligible for tutoring on the Butler campus for their WSU course.
I had to really dig deep to understand why I was so bothered about students taking a College Algebra course from a different institution when they qualify for a scholarship at BCC. Taking the course for free is definitely cheaper than paying a private institution out of state. Also, our society has conditioned us to look, or shop, for the better deal. Getting help at the tutoring center for their assignments is expected and encouraged. I think it all boil down to “un- ethical practices”. Taking the course to be guaranteed a passing grade by cheating goes against the academia I believe in.
The Math-Redesign was conceived for the purposes of success and retention of students in math courses. Students tend to not do very well in math courses and scholarship students are no different. Even if the course is free to the student, it may take several attempts to pass the course. These attempts cost time. One, two or even three semesters to pass a course, and passing is not guaranteed. It may be more cost efficient in the long run to take a course where cheating almost expected and the probability of passing is greater.
What are the implications to the college when students take/cheat through college algebra? What are the implications to the students who cheat through a course? Did I mention that students are not only shopping for math courses but also English courses for the same reason? Where/when will this dishonest behavior become unacceptable to the college, advisors, coaches and most importantly,