Access codes

Love to hate them or hate to love them?

College is expensive and it only gets pricier when students are required to buy access codes for their classes. 

These pieces of paper that contain unique combinations of letters and numbers give students access to online content such as homework assignments, quizzes, practice tests and, most of the time, an electronic version of the textbook. 

According to a study done by the Student Public Interest Research Group as reported by the New York Times, the average price of an access code bought at a campus bookstore is around $100. 

“I think it was beneficial but do I think $60 is the right price? No. If they could decrease it, I think that makes more sense,” Ferris pre-optometry freshman Gabrielle Kippen said. “I don’t want to say it’s not worth it because would I rather pay $0 and not have the software? No.” 

Ferris mathematics professor Jean Walling expressed that she believes access codes are worth the money because of all the extra content that comes with it. 

“There is so much support and I hate to say you don’t need me but you can go home and find ways to get your questions answered,” Walling said. 

There have been many studies conducted to see whether students were more successful in a traditional class setting or an online delivery. In studies done by Professor Barbara Stern of James Madison University, Dr. Steven Stack of Wayne State University and Associate Professor Anna Ni of California State University San Bernardino, it was concluded that a student’s success in the class was independent of the mode of instruction. 

Many professors are now integrating an online delivery with in-class time and many students have found this combination beneficial. 

Though the cost of access codes is ridiculous, according to Ferris journalism and technical communication junior Marissa Van Alst, she benefited from her class being a mixed delivery of in-class and online. 

“I think I was more successful having it be mixed delivery because lectures are sometimes difficult to listen to. Having mixed delivery allows students to learn at their own pace a little more,” Van Alst said. 

Walling explained that the access codes are useful for math classes because through WebAssign, students can get immediate feedback on homework questions along with video explanations of the specific problem and the ability to ask her questions directly from the homework. 

“Some students are too shy to raise their hand in class or too shy to come to my office hours but they don’t mind using that,” Walling said of the “Ask My Teacher” feature. “So it does open up the communication and I think that’s awesome.” 

Explaining that she believes that it helps her students greatly, Walling said that she wouldn’t have kept using WebAssign if she thought differently.

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