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Exclusive: Psych students experience grade drop in 3rd year course

Students taking Dr. Masood Zangeneh’s Drugs and Behaviour class, a core course of the Psychology Program for the third year, have experienced a significant grade drop they say is attributed to an unreasonable midterm and the lack of communication with those in the class.

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Multiple Reporters | The Avro Post

A group of students taking Dr. Masood Zangeneh’s Drugs and Behaviour class, a core course in the third of the Psychology Program, have experienced a significant grade drop they say is attributed to an unreasonable midterm and a lack of professor communication with those in the class.

Marks for the PSYC 3150’s midterm averaged 46.07 per cent for a group of 14 students in the course that disclosed their grades as part of an investigation by The Avro Post in partnership with the Academic Reform Group.

The midterm grades represent a third of the 42-member classlist as of Mar. 14, marks that were the result of the Feb. 6 test worth 25 per cent of the students’ final evaluation.

A student speaking on background said “lectures were all over the place and were not at all helpful when being tested”, explaining that “textbook material was also not tested on and Powerpoints were uploaded almost blank.”

“My friends and I are studious individuals and considering that the majority of us failed the midterm, there must have been something wrong with his grading,” another individual, who is an honors student, told The Avro Post.

“Basically I received a failing grade on the midterm as well as many others in that class, most of which I know are intelligent and hardworking students,” another student wrote in a statement.

“The class average in no way reflects the students and I feel that if so many people did so poorly, it must have something to with the assessment itself.”

All three students who spoke on background dropped out of the course within a week of the midterm grades being released, among several others.

For students to improve their mark, Hannah Derue told The Avro Post that the only option would be to participate in his thesis students’ surveys or assist with an event that involved the promotion of a book he co-authored with the Psychology Program head.

“The only opportunity for students to improve their average after the midterm was either to participate in his thesis students’ surveys in class, or to volunteer for the Global Indigenous Mental Health Symposium, where he will be presenting his new book on Indigenous mental health,” Derue told the Post.

According to the Eventbrite page for the Mar. 21 symposium in downtown Toronto, Zanganeh’s Indigenous Mental Health: A Global Perspective is “corollary” to the event, which appears to mean it is a high priority.

Dr. Zangeneh has also cancelled his Mar. 20 class so he can prepare for the symposium, according to several students.

Derue said she would have to miss critical placement hours to attend in an attempt to boost the lowest mark the honours student has had in university.

Other students said that to go the symposium they would miss their section of another core course, a specific section of Persuasion and Facilitation.

The Avro Post reached out for comment from Zangeneh, but received no response.


Delayed reply

Derue sent an email on Feb. 12 to find out what she did wrong on the midterm but Dr. Zangeneh failed to respond so she sent a follow up email on Feb. 20 that he responded to three days later where he requested Derue meet him the following week.

During the meeting, Derue requested to see her grades and was given her midterm with an answer key for the multiple choice section.

She did not view the long answer sheet because there was another student waiting to see the professor and Derue did not want to take up more of Zangeneh’s time.

For the correct answers Derue did see, she still found the questions unreasonable.

“How could I have known to study the country of origin of coffee in a course that is centred on addiction psychology and drug mechanisms of action? The course material was completely irrelevant on the midterm”, said the third year psychology major.


Neglected students 

Dr. Masood Zangeneh’s midterm was comprised of multiple short answer questions, all worth nine marks each with long answer at the end, a student said. 

The student expressed their concern of Masood reportedly “vaguely teaching the content to the students.”

Aside from the “vague teaching”, student Hannah Derue claimed the context is outdated and irrelevant to the course.  

“I found the research being used to instruct the basics of the course to be questionable both in the validity of research constructs, and simply so old it was no longer relevant.”

Students that claim to normally be studious admitted to struggling with the midterms and questioned Masood’s grading process.

“I received my first failing mark and had to drop the course because it would harm my GPA,” said one student anonymously.

One of the main concerns students expressed is feeling neglected by Zangeneh and being dismissed from any aid.

A student claimed that the professor “doesn’t care about his students at all.”

Ms. Derue also expressed her frustration over the lack of communication between teacher and student.

“When I personally approached Masood, both over email and in person, he was unwilling to give students any opportunity for improvement on that grade.”

As stated previous, the alternative for students to raise their marks is to attend the symposium, however during the event many students are scheduled for the Persuasion and Facilitation class.

“For a significant group of his students, they will need to skip another class (Persuasion and Facilitation) on that day to get the only remaining 5 [per cent] bonus mark in this course for attending that symposium,” said a student. 


More details to follow. 

Journalists: Eli Ridder, Melissa Martinez; Editors: Academic Reform Group, Kaela Johnson ■

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Shaila Anjum

    March 15, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    Masood definately is not the best at communication, but to say he is an unfair marker or poor professor who does not care for his students is mindboggling. I was not in the section that scored this low. Other sections have scored just fine as far as I know. Masood is a very kind, respectful and understanding professor. I have gone through some major personal crisis and I have reached out to him when needed. He has no only given an extention to me and several students but he has been supportive and lenient. He marks incredibly easy in other areas like journals we often do for presentations, presentations themselves, and his papers. I must admit the papers sometimes seem to be marked on completion versus content but somw of these allegations are out of pure hatred and unfair. Others have some validity. However, if we point out marching schemes and fair questions – there are several professors that must also be accounted for that have tested on material and knowledge that was not heard of and unfair. Masood removes questions from his tests if everyone gets them wrong if need be. Masood is very knowledgeable and discusses the material in his slide in depth during his lectures. Masood posts slides without all the information in them because that is what you are suppose to go to lectures for. He has the full version in class that he reveals as he gives an in-depth lecture in the content. I definately thing theres things to improve on in terms of communication and honest marking of the remainder of class assignments – but other allegations have no validity.

    • Anonymous

      March 15, 2018 at 8:37 pm

      m

    • Anonymous

      March 15, 2018 at 8:57 pm

      Other sections “scoring fine” does not negate that somehow this particular section did poorly. What would REALLY be unfair, would be to say that somehow all the students in the class deserved these failing marks, and the scoring had nothing to do with it. If you did not receive a mark that you feel reflects your intelligence and ability, you would want to challenge it (at the very least to see where you went wrong). If you had been in the section, maybe you would understand where they are coming from. No one would make these accusations without careful consideration and forethought; I am sure everyone understands the seriousness of making these allegations and would not do so out of hatred or anger. Sure, it is frustrating to get a low mark, but the students from this section just want answers. At the end of the day people are just trying to graduate lol. So naturally, anything that hinders their progress that they see as unfair, they are going to challenge it. And that is within their right. These accusations are not out of malice. People just want answers.

  2. Anonymous

    March 15, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    I’m a student in his Drugs and Behaviour course. There are only two sections of this course this semester. One is instructed by Dr. Zangeneh, one is not.

  3. Anonymous

    March 15, 2018 at 7:41 pm

    Thank god someone’s finally saying it

  4. Anonymous

    March 15, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    Masood has always been a fairly courteous and polite professor, but I have run into some issues with him as well. This includes the marking of assignments/papers on the basis of completion rather than content, non-detailed responses to questions, and a lack of clarity in instruction (even after follow up questions). I think it’s important to remember that we have to look at the facts behind what he has done that have impacted our academic performance, rather than to discourage his character. We have to remember that we want to strive for improvement, rather than stagnating progress towards a solution by giving destructive criticisms.

  5. Anonymous

    March 16, 2018 at 11:15 am

    Masood’s teaching and grading method leave much to be desired. His lectures are full of outdated information and contradict current literature, and he’s belligerent when you bring this to his attention or question the validity of his sources. As for his essays, you get the feeling that he marks according to who he likes and dislikes, and no matter how hard you work you know the mark will be the same. This discourages students and decreases motivation to actually work hard in his courses. It gets to the point where my friends and I dread having him as a professor because we know he’ll be biased.

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Campus

IGNITE discounted Frosh tickets due to underselling

A staffer source speaks to The Avro Post.

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Graphic by The Avro Post.

IGNITE earlier this week released a 50 per cent off discount code for Frosh previously reserved for those that opted in and a staffer with the student union told The Avro Post on the condition of anonymity that the move was made because tickets were underselling.

The source was unable to reveal how many tickets had been sold so far, only that the discount was put in place because the mark was not hit. Frosh, a paint party taking place this Saturday evening at Woodbine Racetrack, differs from previous years where musical talent was the feature.

The staffer, based at Lakeshore Campus, told The Post that the student union is also concerned about the upcoming Wild ‘N Out event taking place in October. When the MTV show visited Humber College last year, the event was full and potentially sold out.

The source also expressed concern for IGNITE’s monthly contest where the student union gives away $1,000 in a draw, questioning why the student union would give away thousands of dollars for nine months if they are operating on a potentially smaller budget.

For now, it is unclear why Frosh would be underselling. In recent years, Frosh has been busy and bustling, however, the change from musical talent to a paint party could have come into play for some students. IGNITE has also been using paid advertisements on social media to promote the event.

The Student Choice Initiative has created a split between students who remained opted in to certain IGNITE fees and those that have chosen to opt out. Events like Frosh show that there will be a new standard in a first-come, first-serve basis, giving exclusives to financial supporters.

The first indication of this came with the Frosh party kits. The first 100 students who bought tickets and had remained opted in to the Events and Opportunities Fee were eligible for the kits. It is expected that there will be more of these exclusives over the course of the academic year.

Sources told The Post on Saturday that club executives would have to remain opted in to the Leadership and Development Fee to keep their positions. The move could set a precedent for future leadership opportunities such as IGNITE elections.

Many of the changes will likely become clear with the Special Meeting of the Members on Oct. 16 where a new constitution is expected to be ratified by students and questioned answered in a press conference-style event in the Humber College Student Centre at North Campus.

The Avro Post will reach out for comment from IGNITE. ■

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Investigative

Guelph-Humber professor unreachable after giving failing grades

An investigation by The Avro Post.

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SPECIAL REPORT

Diego Williams, a third year Media Business student at the University of Guelph-Humber, has been unable to acquire a breakdown of his grades from a spring course because the professor has been unreachable by both Williams and the school, The Avro Post has learned.

Williams, and at least three other students who came forward to The Avro Post, received failing grades from Professor Thomas Borzecki in his AHSS*3080 Web Design class of Winter 2018, but follow-ups were ignored.

Borzecki is a professor at both Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber, according to his LinkedIn work history, and has faculty email addresses for both institutions, to which students sent messages.

Williams returned to Guelph-Humber in September determined to sort out what he said was a mistake, as he had excelled in the class, and went to academic advisor Andrea Campea to challenge the 21 per cent final mark.

Williams admitted that he was unaware the deadline for appealing a final mark received in the spring semester was May 18, but still wanted to know how Borzecki came to the conclusion of a failing grade.

Most professors use Courselink, a service that allows students to submit assignments digitally and also is where the results of projects and examinations will be posted, usually with a breakdown and comments.

However, Borzecki took student submissions via his professional website at ThomasBorzecki.ca, thus no one at Guelph-Humber could access a record of submissions or results.

Campea advised Williams to reach out to Borzecki so that the student could get a transcript from his spring professor so that movement could be made in terms of obtaining a breakdown of what occurred.

When Williams could not get a hold of Borzecki, despite repeated attempts through his Gryph Mail and Humber College faculty email, Campea talked to her superior, Registrar Grant Kerr.

According to Williams, Campea told him that Mr. Kerr said there was nothing the University of Guelph-Humber could do to get a hold of Borzecki, leaving Williams disenfranchised with the school.

Diego Williams was not alone in the marking issues and communication struggles with Borzecki, who did not respond to a request for comment from The Avro Post submitted on his professional website.

Another student in Borzecki’s Web Design course in the winter 2018 semester, whose identity The Avro Post has agreed to keep anonymous due to concerns of academic backlash, said that she was ignored by the professor when she attempted to follow up after he only graded half of her final assignment.

The second student, who is in Media Studies, received a final grade of 38, and told the Post: “I only received a mark for the photoshop portion of the assignment but nothing for the coding portion.”

She told the Post about two unverified cases where her friends were in similar circumstances with Borzecki giving them low grades and ignoring follow-up’s, however, one of them got it fixed via her academic advisor.

Another student came forward to The Avro Post after this story was published and said that he also was not marked for the photoshop portion of the final project, which combines coding and graphic design elements.

A fourth anonymous student from Web Design Winter 2018 said she received a 30 per cent final grade, a mark she believes was very low and inconsistent from her usual academic standing.

She followed up with Borzecki on April 15 in an email seen by The Avro Post, but there was no response, despite his replies to two previous emails she had sent asking questions during the semester.

Borzecki was still employed at Humber College in September, according to his LinkedIn profile, and The Avro Post was able to verify that he is listed to teach at least one course next semester, for Winter 2019.

The Avro Post gave the University of Guelph-Humber and Thomas Borzecki a day and a half to respond to emails sent to multiple addresses.


Editor’s Note: The identities of the three separate cases were verified by The Avro Post with student email addresses and other documents. All effort was given to making sure Thomas Borzecki was reached via email as there was no phone number listed on his professional website.

If you have had a similar experience with Thomas Borzecki or any professor, please reach out via our secure Contact page.

Image of the University of Guelph Humber from The Avro Post. ■

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Investigative

Progress Report: IGNITE platforms largely not followed through on

Progress Report 2018

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Staff | Analysis

This is the first annual Progress Report done by The Avro Post on the status of the IGNITE student government, and how much of their platform has been completed about halfway through their term.

A score is given based on the amount of platform items an IGNITE official has started or completed. For example, if Jane Smith ran on a four-part platform and she had started only two items, then she would get a 50 per cent score.

All IGNITE executives were given over three full days to respond to requests from The Avro Post asking to confirm their original platform points and what moves they have made so far to complete them, however, none of them replied.

The Avro Post found that out of a combined 11 platform items from all the elected IGNITE executives that could be identified, one full and two partial platform points were completed, giving an overall average of 18 per cent success rate from original platforms.


Poll

A poll detailing how much the IGNITE student union matters to students at the University of Guelph-Humber and Humber College campuses has been released by The Avro Post on Twitter.


The president

IGNITE President Monica Khosla campaigned on improving accessibility campus-wide, and also addressed concerns over transparency.

During the first Elections Forum during the campaign last spring, Khosla cited physical and social accessibility as areas of improvement for IGNITE.

She referenced work she did representing students at the AODA committee that exists to hold campus to standards found in the provincial disabilities act.

Khosla also talked cited what she called a deficit in awareness for IGNITE events and opportunities.

So how well has she implemented her platform at the halfway point?

Khosla has worked hard on the accessibility angle, bringing about the focus groups that just concluded on Tuesday.

However, the issue of transparency has not seen any drastic improvements so far. Thus, The Avro Post gives Khosla a midterm Progress Report score of:

50%

(1 out of 2)


VP, Guelph-Humber

IGNITE Vice President Maheen Nazim, who represents the University of Guelph-Humber, campaigned on three points: accessibility, flexibility and student input.

Nazim’s most notable platform promise was to create an IGNITE mobile app that would provide accessibility needs, proposing functionality like “updates, real-time parking and upcoming student events” in an interview with The Avro Post.

On flexibility, Nazim wanted more summer placement opportunities and less repetition in courses as part of a flexibility effort, an academic concern that would be exclusively under the purview of the University of Guelph Senate, according to the secretariat.

She also promised to put students first, saying that her “personal focus will always be the students and their needs.”

In an effort to work on transparency, the Justice Studies student said that IGNITE should host an “online forum to educate the students on what is going on behind the scenes”.

Nazim explained the forum would help to fix the issue of IGNITE not communicating with students before they “go searching for answers”, a similar platform item to that of her Lakeshore Campus counterpart Graham Budgeon.

In an IGNITE video released just last week, Nazim added that she is now working on “student leadership” and, while it is possible there has been some movement in that direction, the Progress Report only takes into consideration promises made on campaign platforms.

So how well has she implemented her platform at the halfway point?

First off, Nazim confirmed to The Avro Post just before the fall semester started that she dropped her plans to launch an IGNITE app, after declining to comment in June.

The fourth year instead told The Avro Post that the mobile IGNITE app would “not be an initiative this year”, explaining that “student communications” would be her focus.

An IGNITE student forum has yet to come online, and there has been no announcement from the student union thus far.

It is not known what Nazim has done at this point towards the platform she ran on.

The Avro Post reached out for comment from the fourth year so she could clarify what she does in regards to her platform and also day-to-day, but Nazim did not specify beyond when she said “student communications” was her focus earlier this year.

The app was secretively pushed aside without explanation, the academic concerns are not applicable to the position of the vice president and an online forum is not here and no one from IGNITE will confirm if it’s on the way, so The Avro Post scores Nazim with:

0%

(0 out of 3 platform items)


VP, North Campus

IGNITE Vice President of Humber College North Campus Jeremy Afonso campaigned on re-opening the Linx Lounge as a bar and opening new quiet study spaces to tackle overcrowding at the university.

Mr. Afonso also aimed to bring about “academic advocacy” following the five-week college union strike in the fall of 2017, saying that “a lot of people want certain things to change, and that was not offered last year.”

“I think that people came out to speak their voice, because they know what is right, and they know that what I was campaigning for actually makes a difference.”

So how well has Afonso implemented his platform at the halfway point?

Firstly, Linx Lounge became Linx Café this year, but has not been restored to the full bar that it used to be a few years ago and what was promised in Afonso’s platform. For this, part marks can be attributed.

When it comes to new study areas, The Avro Post reached out to Humber College and Afonso for more details, but both failed to respond for eight days before this article was published.

Thus, The Avro Post finds Afonso’s score to be:

16%

(.5 out of 3 items)


VP, Lakeshore

IGNITE Vice President of Lakeshore Graham Budgeon campaigned on creating an online portal that would connect students with the student union, developing a student network in the process, and create a permanent IGNITE desk on the first floor of the L building.

So how well has Mr. Budgeon implemented his platform at the halfway point?

There is no portal at this time, a platform item Budgeon dubbed “societies” during his campaign, as reported by Humber Et Cetera, and the vice president did not respond to a request over what the status of the initiative is.

As for a permanent desk on the first floor of L Building at Humber College Lakeshore Campus, and IGNITE staff confirmed to The Avro Post that there has been implementation on that item.

Thus, The Avro Post finds Budgeon’s score to be:

10%

(.5 out of 3 items)


Image of IGNITE logo from IGNITE. The Avro Post carried out this Progress Report using files from Humber News, Humber Et Cetera and The Avro Post. Research carried out by multiple staff members. ■

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