Exclusive: Psych students experience grade drop in 3rd year course

Multiple Reporters | The Avro Post

A group of students taking Dr. Masood Zangeneh’s Drugs and Behaviour class, a core course in the third of the Psychology Program, have experienced a significant grade drop they say is attributed to an unreasonable midterm and a lack of professor communication with those in the class.

Marks for the PSYC 3150’s midterm averaged 46.07 per cent for a group of 14 students in the course that disclosed their grades as part of an investigation by The Avro Post in partnership with the Academic Reform Group.

The midterm grades represent a third of the 42-member classlist as of Mar. 14, marks that were the result of the Feb. 6 test worth 25 per cent of the students’ final evaluation.

A student speaking on background said “lectures were all over the place and were not at all helpful when being tested”, explaining that “textbook material was also not tested on and Powerpoints were uploaded almost blank.”

“My friends and I are studious individuals and considering that the majority of us failed the midterm, there must have been something wrong with his grading,” another individual, who is an honors student, told The Avro Post.

“Basically I received a failing grade on the midterm as well as many others in that class, most of which I know are intelligent and hardworking students,” another student wrote in a statement.

“The class average in no way reflects the students and I feel that if so many people did so poorly, it must have something to with the assessment itself.”

All three students who spoke on background dropped out of the course within a week of the midterm grades being released, among several others.

For students to improve their mark, Hannah Derue told The Avro Post that the only option would be to participate in his thesis students’ surveys or assist with an event that involved the promotion of a book he co-authored with the Psychology Program head.

“The only opportunity for students to improve their average after the midterm was either to participate in his thesis students’ surveys in class, or to volunteer for the Global Indigenous Mental Health Symposium, where he will be presenting his new book on Indigenous mental health,” Derue told the Post.

According to the Eventbrite page for the Mar. 21 symposium in downtown Toronto, Zanganeh’s Indigenous Mental Health: A Global Perspective is “corollary” to the event, which appears to mean it is a high priority.

Dr. Zangeneh has also cancelled his Mar. 20 class so he can prepare for the symposium, according to several students.

Derue said she would have to miss critical placement hours to attend in an attempt to boost the lowest mark the honours student has had in university.

Other students said that to go the symposium they would miss their section of another core course, a specific section of Persuasion and Facilitation.

The Avro Post reached out for comment from Zangeneh, but received no response.

Delayed reply

Derue sent an email on Feb. 12 to find out what she did wrong on the midterm but Dr. Zangeneh failed to respond so she sent a follow up email on Feb. 20 that he responded to three days later where he requested Derue meet him the following week.

During the meeting, Derue requested to see her grades and was given her midterm with an answer key for the multiple choice section.

She did not view the long answer sheet because there was another student waiting to see the professor and Derue did not want to take up more of Zangeneh’s time.

For the correct answers Derue did see, she still found the questions unreasonable.

“How could I have known to study the country of origin of coffee in a course that is centred on addiction psychology and drug mechanisms of action? The course material was completely irrelevant on the midterm”, said the third year psychology major.

Neglected students 

Dr. Masood Zangeneh’s midterm was comprised of multiple short answer questions, all worth nine marks each with long answer at the end, a student said. 

The student expressed their concern of Masood reportedly “vaguely teaching the content to the students.”

Aside from the “vague teaching”, student Hannah Derue claimed the context is outdated and irrelevant to the course.  

“I found the research being used to instruct the basics of the course to be questionable both in the validity of research constructs, and simply so old it was no longer relevant.”

Students that claim to normally be studious admitted to struggling with the midterms and questioned Masood’s grading process.

“I received my first failing mark and had to drop the course because it would harm my GPA,” said one student anonymously.

One of the main concerns students expressed is feeling neglected by Zangeneh and being dismissed from any aid.

A student claimed that the professor “doesn’t care about his students at all.”

Ms. Derue also expressed her frustration over the lack of communication between teacher and student.

“When I personally approached Masood, both over email and in person, he was unwilling to give students any opportunity for improvement on that grade.”

As stated previous, the alternative for students to raise their marks is to attend the symposium, however during the event many students are scheduled for the Persuasion and Facilitation class.

“For a significant group of his students, they will need to skip another class (Persuasion and Facilitation) on that day to get the only remaining 5 [per cent] bonus mark in this course for attending that symposium,” said a student. 

More details to follow. 

Journalists: Eli Ridder, Melissa Martinez; Editors: Academic Reform Group, Kaela Johnson

7 thoughts on “Exclusive: Psych students experience grade drop in 3rd year course

Add yours

  1. Masood definately is not the best at communication, but to say he is an unfair marker or poor professor who does not care for his students is mindboggling. I was not in the section that scored this low. Other sections have scored just fine as far as I know. Masood is a very kind, respectful and understanding professor. I have gone through some major personal crisis and I have reached out to him when needed. He has no only given an extention to me and several students but he has been supportive and lenient. He marks incredibly easy in other areas like journals we often do for presentations, presentations themselves, and his papers. I must admit the papers sometimes seem to be marked on completion versus content but somw of these allegations are out of pure hatred and unfair. Others have some validity. However, if we point out marching schemes and fair questions – there are several professors that must also be accounted for that have tested on material and knowledge that was not heard of and unfair. Masood removes questions from his tests if everyone gets them wrong if need be. Masood is very knowledgeable and discusses the material in his slide in depth during his lectures. Masood posts slides without all the information in them because that is what you are suppose to go to lectures for. He has the full version in class that he reveals as he gives an in-depth lecture in the content. I definately thing theres things to improve on in terms of communication and honest marking of the remainder of class assignments – but other allegations have no validity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Other sections “scoring fine” does not negate that somehow this particular section did poorly. What would REALLY be unfair, would be to say that somehow all the students in the class deserved these failing marks, and the scoring had nothing to do with it. If you did not receive a mark that you feel reflects your intelligence and ability, you would want to challenge it (at the very least to see where you went wrong). If you had been in the section, maybe you would understand where they are coming from. No one would make these accusations without careful consideration and forethought; I am sure everyone understands the seriousness of making these allegations and would not do so out of hatred or anger. Sure, it is frustrating to get a low mark, but the students from this section just want answers. At the end of the day people are just trying to graduate lol. So naturally, anything that hinders their progress that they see as unfair, they are going to challenge it. And that is within their right. These accusations are not out of malice. People just want answers.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a student in his Drugs and Behaviour course. There are only two sections of this course this semester. One is instructed by Dr. Zangeneh, one is not.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Masood has always been a fairly courteous and polite professor, but I have run into some issues with him as well. This includes the marking of assignments/papers on the basis of completion rather than content, non-detailed responses to questions, and a lack of clarity in instruction (even after follow up questions). I think it’s important to remember that we have to look at the facts behind what he has done that have impacted our academic performance, rather than to discourage his character. We have to remember that we want to strive for improvement, rather than stagnating progress towards a solution by giving destructive criticisms.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Masood’s teaching and grading method leave much to be desired. His lectures are full of outdated information and contradict current literature, and he’s belligerent when you bring this to his attention or question the validity of his sources. As for his essays, you get the feeling that he marks according to who he likes and dislikes, and no matter how hard you work you know the mark will be the same. This discourages students and decreases motivation to actually work hard in his courses. It gets to the point where my friends and I dread having him as a professor because we know he’ll be biased.

    Liked by 1 person

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