• Report: #746457

Complaint Review: Grand Canyon University Online

  • Submitted: Tue, June 28, 2011
  • Updated: Wed, July 06, 2011

  • Reported By: Justina — Grand Canyon Arizona United States of America
Grand Canyon University Online
3300 West Camelback Road Phoenix, Arizona United States of America

Grand Canyon University Online GCU Online online university Phoenix, Arizona

*UPDATE Employee: You Are Not Alone (From The Enrollment Side)

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Questions

*Consumer Comment: Pathetic

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For five years, I was employed as an online college professor with Grand Canyon University Online. I considered myself "a cut above," and also a caring and competent professor.  I took my job seriously and the students -- with a few exceptions -- wrote me tremendous evaluations.  I was the kind of professor to follow up with personal phone calls to my students.  I even spent hours every semester with one or two of them that needed tutoring in organizational skills and writing skills.  I was told repeatedly by multiple students over the years that I was the first professor to actually award them a "real" grade and to actually teach them how to format, organize, and structure a research paper.  GCU itself wrote me glowing reports as well.  I was happy with my little internet teaching job and all was well.

Then something happened.  The first unusual event (there were many, but I'll just name this one)  involved a student who had plagiarized all of her papers.  I contacted faculty services when I discovered that the Week Seven paper had been plagizerized.  The student's paper was simply a hodgepodge of copy/pasted sentences from various websites.  I filled out the plagiarism form and followed the protocol for reporting the plagiarism that Faculty Services instructed me to do.

I then went back and checked the first six week's of papers and discovered that ALL of this student's papers had been plagiarized.  I again contacted faculty services regarding how to proceed.  I was told by a faculty specialist, E.L., that since I had not caught it in tmie and the weekly grades had already been posted that I should leave it that way and go ahead and award the student an "A" for her semester's worth of plagiarized papers!  I found this rather shocking, but I complied.

Shortly therefore, faculty specialists began showing up in my classroom.  I was removed from three contracts (classes that were about to commence).  My "crime?"  I was told that I (a) hadn't posted my telephone number (it was not even a requirement at that time), that I was not writing enough commentary on "A" papers, and that I had been "rude" to a student who had literally sent me THREE sentences as her paper.  My "rudeness?"  Here's what faculty services stated:    I had asked the student in an e-mail--"Do you know how to write an APA style paper?"

After losing these three contracts, things got even worse.  A member of faculty services then put me on "probation" and assigned me a sociology class with two students in it.  This greatly affected my ability to support myself, needless to say.  The faculty specialist then said she would provide weekly feedback to me in the form of a rubric.  During Weeks Two and Three M.M. filled out the rubric indicating that I had complied with everything that an online faculty member needs to do.

Following the end of the course (with two students), I then asked if I could have back my three classes, whereby I was told that I had been fired for having a bad "online tone."

I have since found employment with two other online universities who seem to have no problem with my online tone or anything else that I do.  Additionally, the rules at these other two online universities are clear.  When a student plagiarizes, there are no exceptions.  When a student does not meet a deadline on an assignment, it's too bad for that student (which actually makes students more secure and responsible)  At GCU, on the other hand, a student could appear in the last week of the course and claim he or she had had life crises and could they now make up all eight weeks of course work.  It was sort of an "anything goes" at GCU with polices made and policies broken in favor of irresponsible students.  Whimsical policies.

I complained about the whimsical policies to GCU when I was on "probation."   I really felt that a "Christian" university would want to hear from me, since I had always done such an outstanding job.  But my pointing out policies that are made and broken, contracts whimsically taken away, etc., complaints by other faculty members, only got me on the termination list.

It is a pity that GCU let me go.  I believe that students appreciate professors who give real grades for real work.  By allowing so many of their professors to simply pass failing students so that enrollment stays up (i.e., profits), there is a disservice to all.  First of all, to receive a passing grade without knowing how to properly write or spell, is a disservice to the student.  When that student enters the workforce and has to write a report but can't write coherently, how will that GCU degree help?  It won't.  Second of all, GCU is hurting itself by terminating conscientious professors who grade fairly and accurately.  After awhile, everyone will know that a GCU degree is not up to par. And students looking to enroll in online education will be inclined to go elsewhere.

In short, I am very disappointed that GCU used the ruse of "tone" to get rid of one of their best professors. 

Just the other day, one of my former GCU students contacted me.  She was hoping I would write her a letter for graduate school entry.  "Every time I write a paper, I think of you.  I feel like I am writing for you," she stated.

P.S.--After being "fired," the Lifelong Learning Assessment department at GCU contracted with me to assess one paper.  I ask "T" if I had graded the paper to GCU's satisfaction.  "This is exactly the type of positive feedback our students need,"  "T" stated.  I still have a copy of this glowing commentary.  I was then told that it had been a "mistake" that "T" had contracted with me on this LLA paper.  "He was unaware that you had been fired."

PPSS--I plan to write all about all of the other discrepancies that happened to me during the final six months of my employment with GCU, so watch for a series of articles that I plan to publish here. 

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 06/28/2011 11:46 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Grand-Canyon-University-Online/Phoenix-Arizona-85017-3030/Grand-Canyon-University-Online-GCU-Online-online-university-Phoenix-Arizona-746457. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 UPDATE Employee

You Are Not Alone (From The Enrollment Side)

AUTHOR: mike.sheppard91 - (USA)

I am an employee who is holding down an enrollment job while I a masters at nearby ASU. I do enrollment because it is relatively simple and easy to do. I can tell you that for as long as I have been employed (almost 2 years) that the changes that have taken place within the organization are first to comply with the Department of Education and then to find away around the compliance issues that cause the institution to lose money.
I am have, and will continue to put in every Tom, d**k and Harry with a pulse weather they are just starting out in their very first class or are needing the last few classes to graduate. I am going to put in people who at some times along the application process cannot remember how to spell their own names.
And I will do it a lot. While the Department of Education mandates that this institution not incentivize enrollment numbersyou can bet your bottom dollar that they can find some kind of LAME a*s reason to terminate you like what happened to you.
Grand Canyon University enrollment and their student administration are some of the most conniving and underhanded for-profit educators in the business. If you fail to enroll a certain number of (for lack of a better term) retards per month you will be terminated in enrollment for something they pull out of their asses like Rude to student on phone and it sounds like the same is now true for their online instructors.
Thank you for making the Circle complete from Enrollment to instruction. It is clearly NO wonder why this stock is floundering. The individuals connected to it need to stop thinking that just because they are based in an At will state they can pull these types of shenanigans. You may have saved a student or two in this case GCU, but you cost yourselves THOUSANDS by pissing off the already educated that you let go.
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#2 UPDATE EX-employee responds


AUTHOR: EducationDoctoralStudent - (United States of America)

I used to teach for GCU, but make more money at another location.
Given that, I have a couple of issues with your post...

1) It took seven weeks, even using Turn It In, to find plagiarism with this student.  GCU has used TurnItIn for over two years and I found it a very useful tool in correcting student's "misunderstandings".

2) If all that you wrote in your feedback to a student was, "do you know how to write an APA style paper?" , I would have to side with the university.  If, however, this was only a small part of a larger, more constructive critique, then I would ask you to post it to clarify the issue.

3)  I have seen GCU allow students to make up work, but only if there was ample documentation from medical or other professionals to verify the condition AND the student stayed in contact with their advisors.  The advisors would call me and let me know that this positive dispensation was allowed.  It took me a little extra work during my next course, but from a Christian perspective I couldn't justify punishing a student when a severe life event interfered with their goals.

4) I agree with you that professors who don't provide rigorous and clear grading and feedback should be terminated.

5) Did you tell the Lifelong Learning Assessment folks that you had been "let go" when they contracted with you?

Answering these might provide a more balanced look at the situation.  As a doctoral candidate focused on post-secondary education your answers would help me understand more about the industry and your individual experience.

Thank you
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#3 Consumer Comment


AUTHOR: Marcia - (U.S.A.)

Your story highlights everything that's wrong with some of the online schools.  I also teach in an online program (for a traditional college) and have total control over how students are graded.  If they plagiarize, they get an "F" for the assignment, and possibly for the course (depends on the nature of the plagiarism). If they show up in week 7 of an 8 week course, "F".  Using an online program like turnitin.com has really helped with the plagiarism issue.

I have students who can't write an APA paper either. In fact, some of them can't put together a coherent sentence. Like you, I try to work with them, offer constructive feedback and writing resources.  Sometimes it's no use. I have students who can't write a decent outline for an upcoming paper, don't know the difference between nouns and adjectives, and won't read directions.  I am sometimes discouraged at the plight of our young people who are graduating from high school without these basic skills.  But then I get an outstanding student who makes it all worthwhile.

As you suggested, it's all about the money. When some students find out they have to actually EARN their grade, they choose another school.  Hard professor? Don't enroll in HIS class. I've been zinged a few times by students seeking revenge (and reported more than once for being unreasonable).  In every case I've had the documentation to support the final grade.  Fortunately, my administration supports the faculty and the high standards we impose.

Keep us posted!  This is a good forum for getting the word out.
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