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Arizona State assistant professor claims students flunked on purpose

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PHOENIX – An economics faculty member at Arizona State University has accused the school of flunking students and forcing them to pay to submit homework online, allegations the state’s largest public university said were false.

The campus newspaper, the State Press reported clinical assistant professor Brian Goegan’s email to students Thursday said some students were given failing grades to boost the prospects of grants for a provost’s project.

“There’s a lot of misinformation that’s been spreading online,” university spokeswoman Katie Paquet said Friday to KTAR News 92.3 FM. “We’ve looked into these claims and have found no factual evidence to support them.”

Goegan, whose contract has not been renewed, notified hundreds of students that ASU’s deal with education and technology platform Cengage was the reason they had to sign up for a subscription to a particular service.

The email caught fire on social media.

“In order to convince Cengage to give the Provost a large monetary grant, the department agreed to require all ECN 211 and 212 students use MindTap – a Cengage product,” Goegan wrote.

Mark Searle, executive vice president and provost, said in an email to ABC15, “The accusation that the university would establish quotas in any course requiring to fail a certain percentage of students is unequivocally false. That is not who we are.”

Goegan’s claim also said at least 30 percent of the department’s students had to flunk certain courses.

“As with many of our courses, including our adaptive learning courses, there’s been a fee associated with using that platform. It pays for technology to … access a digital textbook. In no way, shape or form is that out of the ordinary,” Paquet said.

She said there has never been a fee for students to submit homework online, “nor has there been any improper relationship with the company Cengage.”

The Boston-based company said in statement, “We have a strong, long-term relationship with ASU and a partnership in place to collaboratively design high-quality and affordable solutions that advance the learning experience for Principles of Economics students.

“Cengage has never provided a grant to ASU as part of this partnership. We remain focused on working to support the institution in their efforts to help students succeed in this course, as we have done for nearly a hundred years and with thousands of institutions.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report.

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