North Texas Daily

Students shouldn’t pay for homework

Students shouldn’t pay for homework

Students shouldn’t pay for homework
September 06
16:27 2016

As a college student, extra expenses can be the difference between eating ramen all month and having an actual meal. This is why additional online access codes carry the weight of a massive truck. They’re unnecessary and give professors excuses to blur the boundaries between teaching and observing behind a computer screen.

The idea that students must buy access codes to do homework is a ridiculous notion. Unlike textbooks, access codes are unable to be purchased at lower costs. There are no “used” access codes, which means students must purchase codes that always seem to be $100 or more. Students who are already struggling to buy regular textbooks and pay their rent are now burdened with another cost.

The issue is that this cost is a fairly new one – and it seems unwarranted. Turning in homework used to be easier. Although we should be environmentally conscious, until computers can grade with intelligence and flexibility, online homework sites will do more harm than good.

Where professors can use discretion and give partial credit, computers cannot. There are very specific algorithms that the software can’t stray from, and it’s frustrating whenever you slightly deviate from the software’s answer. For example, if the software catches misspelled word in a language class assignment, it will mark an entire answer as incorrect and not give the student any indication of what went wrong. Missing an accent mark is the same way. A professor could grade the work instead, correct the spelling and only take off partial credit.

Math classes are even worse. The accuracy needed while inputting equations is as stressful as trying to disarm a bomb. Sometimes an extra space between numbers and letters is needed, and sometimes it’s not. There are too many screencaps of MyMathLab where students got the equation right – and the computer counted it wrong. College math is stressful enough, students shouldn’t be subjected to finicky software.

The argument could be made that moving homework online cuts down on professor’s workload, however, that is part of the reason TAs exist. For classes with hundreds of students, the task of grading papers is prone to be daunting, but most classes still have tests the old fashioned way. If they can grade all of those tests manually, there has to be some way for them to grade homework at a mildly normal rate.

Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this trend is the ability of professors to depend on technology to teach for them. Unfortunately, grading papers is a fundamental part of being a professor. Relying too heavily on online elements might make professors lazy.

Next, students will have to pay to use Blackboard or to view documents sent by professors. In a for-profit model, colleges hold students’ financial future in their lives. It’s an immense power they hold, and the financial burden of institutions will only grow greater as colleges find ways to nickel and dime students continously.

@sadsquadch

Featured Illustration: Sam Wiggins

About Author

North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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1 Comment

  1. GL
    GL September 14, 11:32

    Morgan, I agree with you.
    One reason all of the extra costs keep piling up and increasing yearly is due to laws. Student loans are now guaranteed by the Federal government. That’s easy money for all colleges. They know that whatever they charge will be covered via student loan and they will get their money. If the government doesn’t get paid back, the student will suffer through life with a crappy credit rating and enormous debt but the college will receive what they ask for. Does the cost of access codes have to be so high? Probably not. I write software. With the number of students paying those online access fees the software likely started returning a profit for the University after the first semester. You’d have to do some investigative journalism to find out those details. But, the product was not free and there is a cost to use it. I just think it’s excessive and could be included with the cost of the course.
    Have a great day.

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