Rectification of General Chemistry I

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Dhimitria Muse started this petition to Dr. Oladapo Bakare and

To the chairpersons and associative chairpersons of the chemistry department, 

      We are writing to you to express our concerns regrading the operations and structure of GENERAL CHEMISTRY I Lecture & Recitation with Dr. Marjan Alaghmand. Throughout the entire Fall 2020 semester the class has attempted to express these concerns directly to our professor during class time, office hours, and through email. Despite our efforts,Dr. Marjan Alaghmand has not been attentive or accommodating to these major issues that have effected our class performance, test results, and overall understanding of the course's content. To ensure organization and concision, these concerns are listed in categories below. 

Lectures: 

During class time Dr. Marjan Alaghmand used lecture slides to cover the information we would be learning in the chapter. This was inefficient because majority of the topics we were assessed on were not covered during this brief period. In addition to this, most chemistry work requires practical application thorough math and equations. Lecture consisted mainly of definitional review that did not demonstrate the skills and knowledge we would need in order to complete the coursework or exams.

Homework: 

Throughout the course we were assigned an excessive amount of homework that required us to teach ourselves independently, being as though most of the assessments in homework were not covered during class time. Our homework was given using the ALEKS platform from which she assigned 192 topics. In order to complete each topic, we had to answer the problems correctly 5 times consecutively, with each error causing our progress to reduce until we completed the questions correctly consecutively. In simpler terms, if the student were to not get anything wrong ever and completed everything in the first attempt for each topic, the student would have completed 960 questions over the course of this semester. However, this does not cover all the work each student had to do because in addition to the topics Dr. Marjan Alaghmand assigned ALEKS also required students to complete prerequisite topics if the platform believed the student did not have the foundational knowledge needed to complete the assigned topics. Furthermore, in addition to the ALEKS platform, Dr. Marjan Alaghmand also assigned textbook homework for each chapter that on average consisted of about 25 questions each with subquestions ranging from A through F (ie. 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d, etc.). Our textbook homework, despite its lengthiness, was only worth 5 points. She later decided after the fourth chapter, she would no longer count the textbook homework and completion of future topics would be 2% extra credit. Towards the end of the semester, students were later informed that the ALEKS pie chart would also be counted toward our grade and would be weighted for 50% of our overall ALEKS grade. The pie chart is a tool ALEKS uses in order to test the students complete knowledge of each topic they learned. Every other chapter, ALEKS would assign a "knowledge check" that consisted of a variety of topics covered in the previous chapters. If a student were to get any of those questions wrong, ALEKS would deduct that topic from the learned topics in the pie chart. For example if a student were to get an 100% on all topics of Chapter 6, and then on the knowledge check get a question from Chapter 6 wrong two weeks later, ALEKS changes the students score for Chapter 6 to 88%. After completing the 192 topics assigned for the course students were required to go back and also complete the pie chart worth 50% of their grade despite the completion of all topics. 

Exams: 

Exams were also administered on the ALEKS platform. We met with her and requested that test be administered on blackboard or on another platform for the following reasons. ALEKS is extremely precise, and is a computer operated program. Despite all the work students would need to complete a problem, ALEKS only requires the submission of the final answer. Therefore, no partial credit would ever be taken into consideration for minor errors, although a student may have had the correct concept but made a mistake somewhere in the calculations. Also, ALEKS was so precise that if a student answered "30" and the answer was "30." the entire question would be marked incorrect. This was also true for capitalization, rounding, decimals, structures, and more. In other words, if a student's answer was not exactly the answer ALEKS preferred they would be marked wrong. In addition to this factor, the class would only be given 50 minutes to complete 10 questions that each required a significant amount of calculations to complete. In every test administered, a majority of the students did not get to complete or even attempt a number of questions of the exams. We expressed this concern to Dr. Marjan Alaghmand and she never allowed us more time or less questions on the exam. We believe the exams did not allow us to demonstrate our knowledge of the chapter's content because we had to rush though and attempt to complete as a many questions as we could in the short period and could not check our work or answers considering how precise ALEKS requires each submission to be. Student's that have scored 100% on homework assignments that mirrored the format of the questions on the exam, would still fail an exam due to an inadequate amount of time. Even after expressing this after all four exams in the course, Dr. Marjan Alaghmand formatted the Final by assigning 24 questions in two hours. This exhibits her negligence of addressing and attending to our concerns, because even after a whole semester of the class explaining that we did not have enough time to complete the exams, the final consisted of yet more questions. 

Studying: 

Lastly, in regards to studying, Dr. Marjan Alaghmand responded to all of our concerns with suggesting we study harder. The amount of homework assigned ensures that upon a student's completion, they would have mastered the methods of each topic that would be covered on the exam. In addition, we would have to teach ourselves majority of the information, which leads to a thorough understanding. Students have attested to using ALEKS review, practice test, youtube, and Khan academy to assist in understanding the information in this course. Despite or efforts, and attaining a thorough understanding of the chapters, we were not given enough time on the exams to demonstrate our knowledge and understanding. Leading up our cumulative final, students requested that she informed us on what topics we should focus studying or provide us with a study guide. We had 192 topics to consider, knowing there would be 24 questions on the final exam. Dr. Marjan Alaghmand sent us this highly requested study guide 2 days prior to the cumulative final exam. 

We hope these concerns reach you and you are able to assist us on addressing them. The class average for about 50% of our exams was a failing grade below 50% and despite our efforts, the methods of administering each exam was never changed. This course required a significant amount of work and effort to succeed, and we do not believe our grades are reflective of our knowledge, skill, and success in the course. Thank you. 

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