Facebook Scandal

A Ryerson University freshman set up a Facebook study group for his Chemistry class. He now faces 147 counts of academic misconduct.

The computer engineering student has been charged with one count of academic misconduct for helping run the group – called Dungeons/Mastering Chemistry Solutions after the popular Ryerson basement study room engineering students dub The Dungeon – and another 146 counts, one for each classmate who used the site.

Avenir, 18, faces an expulsion hearing Tuesday before the engineering faculty appeals committee. If he loses that appeal, he can take his case to the university’s senate.

The students were either helping each other out as one might do in a study group, or exchanging answers two homework questions. There is a lot of room here for interpretation.

How much of this is a matter of administrative fear of the internet? (See “Teachers Gone Wild” for a high school version of this issue.)

“So we each would be given chemistry questions and if we were having trouble, we’d post the question and say: `Does anyone get how to do this one? I didn’t get it right and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.’ Exactly what we would say to each other if we were sitting in the Dungeon,” said Avenir yesterday.

He is still attending classes pending his hearing but admits the stress of the accusations is affecting his midterm exam results.

“But if this kind of help is cheating, then so is tutoring and all the mentoring programs the university runs and the discussions we do in tutorials,” he said.

This is covered in The Star.

Comments

  1. #1 Coturnix
    March 8, 2008

    Excuse me? And how is one supposed to learn? By reading a textbook?

  2. #2 joemac
    March 8, 2008

    Before widespread internet access, my students had study groups, and I encouraged this. I hope they still get together to work out problems

  3. #3 Propter Doc
    March 8, 2008

    Working in an istitute that values collaborative problem based learning techniques (above all others), I find this incredible. If students were exchanging homework answers (and one could infer exchanging midterm or other exam information to classmates who missed the test), then there is a problem with the students in question, not the student who attempted to create a community to facilitate better learning.
    I’d be curious to know if this university uses other interactive web environments for teaching.

  4. #4 Stephanie Z
    March 9, 2008

    Yeesh. Are the professor’s teaching methods also being examined?

    The most successful physics class I’ve ever taken was Advanced Physics in high school, where every problem was worked through collectively in class. We were on our own for tests, but the purpose of lecture was to take what we were learning and figure out how it applied. That class produced a ridiculous number of physics majors. (Thank you, Mr. Bauer.)

    I’m not sure what this class is meant to produce. I don’t think it’s deep understanding of the material or the scientific process. Maybe a sense of relief when it’s over? After all, you’ve got to weed out those students who weren’t born with what it takes to be a scientist. How else will we get good scientists?

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