The solution, which entails a virtual edition of a particular course’s accompanying textbook, requires students to purchase access codes, which range from $30 to $100.
While Mastering, like other online forum solutions, is a cheaper alternative to heavy, expensive textbooks, some students don’t like paying to do their homework.
Michelle Bui, a current student at the University of California, Irvine, wrote a column stating that the $70 per course she pays to use Mastering’s forum “is not worth it.”
In her column, Bui said that Mastering should not be a “mandatory aspect of classes at UCI.”
“Mastering is especially excessive considering that there are many cost effective alternatives out there,” she said. “Some UCI professors use programs such as Sapling or even just EEE to post quizzes and homework sets for their students. Sapling only costs about $20 a quarter, while EEE is already integrated.”
Bui also said that Sapling enables students to answer homework questions over and over again, which alerts professors which areas of the class students need help with.
Even though Bui is not a fan of paying for Mastering, she says that tools like it are in fact beneficial to student learning.
She says one of her professors actively uses the solution in his biology classes, and also references a study that proves that students who used Mastering ultimately performed better on exams:
“A 2013 study conducted at Collin College in Plano, Texas examined the correlation between student participation in Mastering Biology quizzes and their performance on exams,” Bui said in her column. “Over two quarters, those students who took all the pre-class quizzes consistently scored above the class average, with the score difference between participants and non-participants being as high as 20 percent. Researchers hypothesized that this is because in taking quizzes, students can see what information they do and do not know long before they take the exam. The quizzes test their recollective abilities as well as force them to look back at information that they did not fully understand in the first place. Without these checks, students would feel over confident in their skills.”
While the idea of the flipped classroom and higher exam scores are great, Bui said in her column, why should students pay more money for this learning style?
“I am all for extra practice outside of the classroom and using technology to improve my education, but $70 in addition to my tuition, my housing and other supplies like iClickers and handbooks is asking for far too much,” she said. “Online tools should add to my learning experience, not my college debt.”