Winter Sessions and Academic Integrity

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            The Joy of Retirement
 
            To certify or not to certify, that is the question.
            Whether ‘tis nobler for higher education to profit
            At the cost of academic integrity
            Or for teachers to rail against the storms of political abuse
            And by warring against them, to vanish – to retire
            And by retiring, to think, to write, to preserve human culture
            This is the fate of the loyal academician, the scholar,
            To preserve breadth and depth of knowledge in learning and
            To communicate the soul of man to another generation
                                                                        Joe Allen 2/21/2019
 
Such are the ideals of dedicated teachers at all education levels. In particular, teachers at the community college level, who believe the life of their students is more than training for a paycheck, actually live and breathe these ideals.
 
Unfortunately, politicians and their appointed higher education watchdogs have diminished college education to technical training. The obsession with preparing students for jobs that may or may not exist has created the abbreviated Winter term between Spring and Fall semesters. Ranging from two to four weeks, a complete semester course is simply jammed into this shortened time frame.
 
Politicians and administrations that support this scheduling method (and there many across the United States) have no concept of the meaning of academic integrity. I offer the following personal reflection for your consideration.
 
When I worked in the defense sector, I had the opportunity to enroll in a couple of radar systems courses (1986 and 1987). The courses were offered through Continuing Education divisions of major universities. The objectives for the courses were similar: to provide an overview of the language of radar systems and the mathematics of elementary radar operations for non-specialists. These professional development courses did not qualify for a degree program. The courses earned continuing education units (CEUs), not degree credits.
 
The courses were intense and short term: 5 days, 8 hours per day (including breaks). The non-specialist in radars gained an awareness of the language and mathematics of radar systems, but not the depth of knowledge required to become a radar systems analyst.
 
Having taught at a community college, I am fully aware of the breadth and depth requirements of mathematics courses. The administration of a college that advertises Core Education Requirements to ensure students satisfy its definition of an educated person are responsible for defending the academic integrity of their degree courses. When dedicated teachers clearly state the shortened time schedule undermines the depth requirements of the course, listen to them!
 
The most important statement students can make to the administrations of the institutions that offer Winter Sessions is simple: Don’t Enroll in the Courses! The joy of the business model is customer selectivity. When customers don’t support a company’s product or service either or both are revised or taken off the market. Demand quality education; demand academic integrity.
 
As always, in the words of Edward R. Murrow, “Good night and good luck.”
 
Joe Allen, PhD is a retired CCRI mathematics professor. He lives in California where he is within driving distance of his children and grandchildren. He is also on an extended retirement-funded sabbatical doing mathematics research.

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