Arizona State University professor claims his contract wasn’t renewed over refusing to fail students

Former Arizona State University professor Brian Goegan (pictured) has claimed his teaching contract wasn't renewed because he spoke out about 'highly unethical' grading practices, which the school disputes

Former Arizona State University professor Brian Goegan (pictured) has claimed his teaching contract wasn't renewed because he spoke out about 'highly unethical' grading practices, which the school disputes

Former Arizona State University professor Brian Goegan (pictured) has claimed his teaching contract wasn’t renewed because he spoke out about ‘highly unethical’ grading practices, which the school disputes

A former economics professor at Arizona State University claims he was effectively fired for refusing to fail 30 percents of his students and objecting to software that charged them to turn in homework. 

Brian Goegan’s teaching contract wasn’t renewed at ASU, after he said he took university officials to task on what he called ‘highly unethical’ grading policies involving an alleged mandatory curve.

He also took issue with the software students were using during their studies.  

Goegan said he was told he must fail 30 percent of his students, and that 20 percent of all graded coursework must be submitted through MindTap, which requires students to pay to turn in work, 

In turn, this would lead to grant to the university from Cengage. 

A spokesperson for ASU told DailyMail.com that the things Goegan has alleged are ‘utterly and completely and categorically false.’

‘There is no requirement anywhere at ASU that students fail. That is exactly the opposite of what we’re trying to do here,’ the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for ASU told DailyMail.com that the things Goegan has alleged are 'utterly and completely and categorically false.' 'There is no requirement anywhere at ASU that students fail. That is exactly the opposite of what we're trying to do here,' the spokesperson said. ASU campus is pictured, as seen from atop A-Mountain, also known as Tempe Butte Mountain

A spokesperson for ASU told DailyMail.com that the things Goegan has alleged are 'utterly and completely and categorically false.' 'There is no requirement anywhere at ASU that students fail. That is exactly the opposite of what we're trying to do here,' the spokesperson said. ASU campus is pictured, as seen from atop A-Mountain, also known as Tempe Butte Mountain

A spokesperson for ASU told DailyMail.com that the things Goegan has alleged are ‘utterly and completely and categorically false.’ ‘There is no requirement anywhere at ASU that students fail. That is exactly the opposite of what we’re trying to do here,’ the spokesperson said. ASU campus is pictured, as seen from atop A-Mountain, also known as Tempe Butte Mountain

Goegan said he began raising concerns about the ethics behind ASU’s grading policies in 2017, and it’s his position that his contract was not renewed to teach next year as a result. 

He publicized his allegations against ASU in an email to students, sent on April 18, urging them to email university officials to ‘ensure this does not happen again.’ 

ASU’s spokesperson told DailyMail.com he could not comment on personnel issues, while a university official reportedly told AZ Central that Goegan’s non-renewal was not at all related to his concerns over the use of Cengage products.

The claims made by Goegan are specific to the economics department in that they involve MindTap software, which comes bundled with a textbook that was selected by department’s faculty in 2014 to be used across two particular courses, namely Econ 211 and 212, the spokesperson said.

Goegan said he began raising concerns about the ethics behind ASU's grading policies in 2017, and it's his position that his contract was not renewed to teach next year as a result. He publicized his allegations against ASU in an email to students, sent on April 18, urging them to email university officials to 'ensure this does not happen again'

Goegan said he began raising concerns about the ethics behind ASU's grading policies in 2017, and it's his position that his contract was not renewed to teach next year as a result. He publicized his allegations against ASU in an email to students, sent on April 18, urging them to email university officials to 'ensure this does not happen again'

Goegan said he began raising concerns about the ethics behind ASU’s grading policies in 2017, and it’s his position that his contract was not renewed to teach next year as a result. He publicized his allegations against ASU in an email to students, sent on April 18, urging them to email university officials to ‘ensure this does not happen again’

Faculty had selected the textbook before it became bundled with MindTap software, which the spokesperson said he believed was in 2017. At that time, faculty reviewed the textbook again, determined the book and the bundle would be beneficial for two economics department courses, and decided to continue to require that book be used across all sections for consistency.

Goegan, however, did not require a textbook of his students, he told InsideHigherEd.com, and because he didn’t require it, his students did not purchase the $99 text and therefore did not have access to the accompanying MindTap software. 

‘I know that relatively speaking it seems low for a textbook, but for that price you can buy just about any book in the world,’ Goegan said. ‘I would joke with my students that they could buy all the Harry Potter books for that price and learn more from those than from the textbook.’

That became an issue for Goegan’s students, however, when the economics department mandated that a certain percentage of all graded coursework in each section be submitted through MindTap.

Goegan said this was 20 percent. The university spokesperson could not confirm the required amount. 

Goegan also claimed this was an effort to force the use of Cengage products in exchange for a grant from the company.

Both ASU and Cengage flatly denied any such partnership, with Cengage saying in a statement:

‘We have a strong, long-term relationship with ASU to design high-quality, affordable solutions that advance learning for Principles of Economics students. This includes the use of our MindTap product, which includes an interactive e-textbook, homework and assessments. Students’ purchase of MindTap is similar to purchasing a textbook or other course materials. 

‘Cengage has never provided a grant to ASU as part of this business relationship and we have nothing to do with the university’s grading system. We remain focused on working to support ASU in their efforts to help students succeed in this course, as we do with thousands of institutions around the U.S.’

ASU told DailyMail.com that this was one of Goegan’s ‘more peculiar claims.’ 

‘We have in the past gotten grants for adaptive learning, with one coming from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but it was just for development of adaptive learning programs in any subject and using any platform.’

He added, ‘The university wasn’t using Cengage at that time.’

The spokesperson also noted another grant the university once received from Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) for general use in the development adaptive learning, but again stated it had nothing to do with use of Cengage products.

Regarding Goegan’s claim that the economics department had instituted a mandatory curved grading structure that would give 30 percent of his students a failing grade, the university spokesperson said:

‘We are trying to produce rigorous academic environments and there will be tough courses, and some kids might not pass them, but we are by no means forcing a curve.’ 

Predetermined final grade ratios are common in law school, and perhaps other graduate programs within higher education, but are far from the norm in undergraduate classes in the United States.

A snippet of an email that came from Jose Mendez, assistant chair of the department of economics was shared on Goegan's blog , showing what Goegan said was a required curved grade structure, though it doesn't add up to the 30 percent fail rate that Goegan said he was verbally told to adhere to. The university spokesperson said what that text actually refers to is performance data for those specific classes, and not a pre-set curve that must be followed

A snippet of an email that came from Jose Mendez, assistant chair of the department of economics was shared on Goegan's blog , showing what Goegan said was a required curved grade structure, though it doesn't add up to the 30 percent fail rate that Goegan said he was verbally told to adhere to. The university spokesperson said what that text actually refers to is performance data for those specific classes, and not a pre-set curve that must be followed

A snippet of an email that came from Jose Mendez, assistant chair of the department of economics was shared on Goegan’s blog , showing what Goegan said was a required curved grade structure, though it doesn’t add up to the 30 percent fail rate that Goegan said he was verbally told to adhere to. The university spokesperson said what that text actually refers to is performance data for those specific classes, and not a pre-set curve that must be followed

A snippet of an email that came from Jose Mendez, assistant chair of the department of economics was shared on Goegan’s blog, showing what Goegan said was a required curved grade structure, though it doesn’t add up to the 30 percent fail rate that Goegan said he was verbally told to adhere to. 

The university spokesperson said what that text actually refers to is performance data for those specific classes, and not a pre-set curve that must be followed, at all.  

‘That is data on how students performed over a certain period of time at one campus,’ the spokesperon said. ‘It is not a required anything’ 

When asked whether Goegan was currently teaching at the university, the spokesperson informed DailyMail.com that Goegan ended his classes early.

‘He gave his final exam 2-3 weeks early, the day before he made these inaccurate accusations about the university,’ the spokesperson said. 

When asked whether Goegan (pictured) was currently teaching at the university, the spokesperson informed DailyMail.com that Goegan ended his classes early. 'He gave his final exam 2-3 weeks early, the day before he made these inaccurate accusations about the university,' the spokesperson said

When asked whether Goegan (pictured) was currently teaching at the university, the spokesperson informed DailyMail.com that Goegan ended his classes early. 'He gave his final exam 2-3 weeks early, the day before he made these inaccurate accusations about the university,' the spokesperson said

When asked whether Goegan (pictured) was currently teaching at the university, the spokesperson informed DailyMail.com that Goegan ended his classes early. ‘He gave his final exam 2-3 weeks early, the day before he made these inaccurate accusations about the university,’ the spokesperson said

   

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