Southern New Hampshire Professor Flunks Student For Saying That Australia Is A Country [Updated]

unnamedSouthern New Hampshire University is one of the burgeoning online universities that promises faster and cheaper degrees than the traditional colleges.  While there are considerable questions raised over content of these courses and the value of the degrees, SNHU insists that it is reaching a population that would not otherwise be able to attain degrees.  Ashley Arnold, 27, however, had to educate her professor that Australia is not just a continent but also a country.  Update: SNHU has fired the professor.  This type of story is particularly harmful for online universities given their perception as diploma mills.  

Arnold is a stay-at-home mom trying to complete an online sociology degree with SNHU but was shocked when she received a failing grade on an assignment to compare a social norm in the US and another country.  She picked Australia but the professor struck her grade because apparently Australia is only a continent.  When confronted, the professor who holds a Ph.D in philosophy explained that she was quite confident that Australia is not a country.  Arnold patiently sent sources showing that Australia is the sixth largest country in the world.

Nevertheless, the professor maintained her position that Australia is a continent but agreed to research it.

I will gladly re-examine your week 2 milestone project report. But before I do I want you to understand that any error in a project can invalidate the entire research project.

Research is like dominoes, if you accidentally knock over one piece the entire set will also fall.

Australia is a continent; it is not a country. That error made it nearly impossible for you to accurately complete your week 2 research outline correctly.

As I mentioned above I will look over your week two paper once again and see if you earned more credits than I gave you.

 I checked it out.  Arnold is right!  It has its own flag and everything.


Arnold sent more explanations that Australia is both a country and continent.  The professor promised to look into her novel theory.

Thank you for this web-address. After I do some independent research on the continent/country issue I will review your paper.

 Eventually, the professor relented . . . no doubt after renting Crocodile Dundee.  She awarded Arnold a B+ but did warn her: “Please make sure the date, the facts, and the information you provide in your report is about Australia the country and not Australia the continent.”
Of course, philosophy professors have had some awkward moments in Australia:

SNHU did apologize and gave Arnold a new professor.
The issue of online universities is a tough one.  People like Arnold find the at-home access important to achieving the education. However, these courses are still $1,000 a pop and the question is whether the education and degree would be worth more at a traditional brick and mortar school.  I have been a long critic of online schools, remote learning, and for-profit schools because I do not agree that the educational quality is the same. However, I also recognize the barriers presented to people like Arnold who struggle to maintain their families or employment while seeking higher education.
After all, she just proved Australia is a country.
Now learning the language could be more challenging:

81 thoughts on “Southern New Hampshire Professor Flunks Student For Saying That Australia Is A Country [Updated]”

  1. So I would like to apologize to KarenS for suggesting she should SFTU – rude and uncool on my part- especially on a free speech blog. I still vehemently disagree with her regarding the legitimacy of online courses, etc., but should have used more civil discourse.

    1. Autumn – Arizona State University, the largest brick-and-mortar university in the country and member of the PAC-12 offers several online degrees. They also have a deal with Starbucks where Starbucks employees can get an online degree partially paid for by Starbucks. ASU has 65000 students on its main campus alone, with faculty and staff there are probably some 75000 people on campus at any one time. And still, they give online degrees. They have 5 campuses, there are more students on the other campuses.

      1. Paul, a few years ago I thought about getting a degree in Emergency Management and Homeland Security via ASU. Given that I have 0 experience in either I was ineligible to apply for the program. I was, of course, annoyed, but at the same time I gave them respect for being selective. Not sure about the rest of their programs, but being rejected from the “get go” while they could have made money off me was certainly a sign they are not all about $$.

  2. CV – your comments have disappeared but I will respond: undergrad George Mason University (real time), Webster University (online)

  3. A minor point: Australia the country includes somewhat more than Australia the continent.

  4. to Jay S comment that “third rate colleges hire third rate instructors.” It is unfortunate but there a lot of ‘supposedly’ first rate colleges that hire third rate instructors also.

  5. These online diplomas are a joke. Few hiring officers give them any credit. Wanna learn? Then enroll in your local community college. It’s a better education and you actually do interact with live beings which is rally what education is all about. Education from Latin educatus, to “bring up, rear, educate.”

    1. uh, Mespo – you might wanna check out how many classes your local community colleges offer ONLINE. And if a degree attained is from an actual brick and mortar institution there is no differentiation so “hiring officers” don’t even know. And btw people in HR are usually the dumbest folks in any organization.

  6. It should not be a surprise that third-rate colleges hire third-rate instructors. And probably “adjunct faculty” at that.

    1. Adjunct faculty can be found at most schools. It is the new slave labor corps in academia

      1. Autumn – adjunct faculty have been around for a long time and are the reason professors have high salaries and low teaching loads. Having worked as an adjunct in the 80s it is like slave labor, if you are full-time faculty and your class doesn’t make, you take over an adjunct’s class and they are screwed. You get last pick on the assignments and if your class doesn’t make you are SOL. They cancel the class. Oh, and you don’t get an office or have to share one with 50 other adjunct faculty.

  7. It appears that Ms Arnold has wasted her time and her money. Does her new professor have a map?

    At some point, perhaps online degrees will gain more prestige. At present, I do not know how you could ensure the student took tests herself, and without cheating, if it’s all online.

    Online courses are fantastic in some circumstances, such as merely expanding your learning on a subject. But as a university, it has a way to go. I suppose office hours could be done online, but holding your work up to a camera for your professor to try to tell you where you’d gone wrong is awkward.

    This professor is remarkably ill informed. Australia is not only a country, it is its own continent. How in the world would Ms Arnold be able to ensure that all of her facts and figures pertain to Australia the country rather than Australia the continent, when no government agency would collect figures on the continent as a whole, since it’s still just the country? There is literally no difference.

    1. KarenS re: “Online courses are fantastic in some circumstances, such as merely expanding your learning on a subject. But as a university, it has a way to go.

      How many online courses have you taken? The quality of the program depends on the specific university as well as the subject matter.

      1. Many if not most of those who enroll in places like SNHU are working-class people who hope to get on the first rung of a professional-job track by getting a BS/BA from “somewhere.” As a society, we are now caught in the bind that too many aspire to jobs like that, than can expect to find them. Ages ago (when I was growing up), not that many people went to college and a collegiate diploma was an actual differentiator. But these days, anyone is presumed to be “college material,” and it just comes down to getting a diploma from the most plausible place, for the least money.

        1. But mostly, it comes down to family wealth and class distinctions. For example, I rather doubt that any museum assistant curators ever went to SNHU, no matter how much they might learn there.

          1. The only people who can work as “museum assistant curators” are trust fund babies. I was offered a job with The Smithsonian, but had to turn it down as I couldn’t afford to live in the DC area on that salary.

        2. Also jobs have been affected by the credential bs – how many secretaries need to have an AA much less a BA?

          1. Again, long ago a secretary could expect to learn anything she (she, invariably) needed to know, on the job. A number of the more ambitious ones that I knew, got degrees and worked their way into Human Resources jobs. But even for that, it seemed to me that the degree requirement was a formality. Basically, someone in HR needed the ability to understand and apply company policies, be aware of company politics, and have a bit of compassion from time to time.

            1. Jay S – fwiw – my experience of dealing with people in HR is that they are all pretty damn dumb. In fact, the majority don’t even know jack about the companies they work for much less the culture. Their job is to sort the benefits and facilitate in the recruitment/hiring/firing processes. Compassion is not in the job description as they are trying to hold on their own positions.

              In an ideal world they would indeed be plugged into company culture and know about the employees.

      2. “How many online courses have you taken?” Well, I haven’t counted, but I have quite a few DVD courses and online courses. I love to learn new things and brush up on what I already know. Equestrian training videos alone have their own shelf. I took traffic school online years ago, and that was very convenient.

        I do think that online courses will continue to improve. However, currently, an online degree is not competitive with a brick-and-mortar university, and a brick-and-mortar university with a poor reputation, such as Evergreen, is not competitive with an Ivy League education.

        Maybe that will change one day. The two problems that I see is that I do not know how to ascertain that it is the actual student taking the test, and not cheating, unless they use testing centers. The other is that office hours can be difficult if you want to go over your work with the professor or TA.

        Working people need to invest their time and money carefully. They also need to thoroughly research the quality of the online degree they are considering. If it is not recognized or carry any weight with the career they want, then they are just wasting their time. But if it is, and has a good reputation, then they can go for it.

        1. KarenS – Just as I thought you know nothing about online classes. My coursework in International Relations through Webster University was demanding. And I had an amazing array of highly qualified professors – many from the military who had actually “been there and done that” during the Cold and post Cold War and later on went back to school for their PhDs. My prof for the Terrorism course was a former FBI guy (back in the day when that actually meant something positive). I would suggest you STFU up about subjects you know nothing about.

            1. Olly, “all Antifa”? wtf are you on about? I am talking about KarenS making stupid assertions about online classes which she knows nothing at all about.

              1. There was nothing about Karen’s post that was invalid. Suggesting she STFU is not only Antifa-like, it certainly could not have it’s roots in that one comment. There’s apparently some baggage regarding Karen you’re hauling around. It’s not like you to comment like that.

                1. Olly, Everything was invalid she posted. KarenS is a moron talking out her arse on a subject she knows nothing about. And yeah, I admit there is personal baggage as Prof. Turley has been dismissive of online degrees – even those from his own damn university which led me to jump in on this blog in the first place.

                  “The two problems that I see is that I do not know how to ascertain that it is the actual student taking the test, and not cheating, unless they use testing centers. The other is that office hours can be difficult if you want to go over your work with the professor or TA.”

                  ONLY undergrad students take tests and they are timed so good luck trying to leaf through the book and handouts and passing the test.

                  ALL online profs from reputable schools are available to correspond with and/or talk to about the work submitted.

                  Also, thanks to computer algorithms is virtually impossible to submit a paper bought off a site as one’s own – they are immediately flagged.

          1. As some one who has experience with teaching courses which are partially on-line, I can assure you that Karen raises valid questions. Students who turn in one hundred percent correct exercises and quizzes on-line are often unable to make even minimal passing scores on tests given in a classroom setting. There is often no good way to know who is actually doing assignments on the other end of a computer hook up.

            1. SierraRose,
              That’s exactly correct. I enrolled with Liberty University in the Spring of 2015 and completed 9 online courses through the Summer 2016. I’ve done CC courses on campusl, remote learning with a classroom instructor (Embry-Riddle) and 2 years on campus at the University of San Diego. The online learning process had absolutely no way to confirm I was the student other than my login ID and password. I could use my home computer or login from my work computer. I could have had my accountant complete my assignments and take my exams. The exams were designed obviously for open book but timed so the more you needed to look up, the less likely you would be complete all the questions. I could have literally had a roomful of people helping me take the tests and the school wouldn’t have known. There are numerous written assignments that would reflect my style, so perhaps validating who’s doing that work would be evident. It was never an issue though. I can see how this method could be abused if the student was only after the degree and not concerned with the knowledge that degree reflected.

              1. Again, Olly, you are talking about undergrad courses. One’s grade in graduate school depends on various assignments – essays, research papers and discussions. Discussions is a component which differeniates online learning from real time class rooms where one listens to lectures and goes on home. Online requires debates on various topics backed up with sources – something that would be impossible in a real time setting. Students have to participate and are graded accordingly.

            2. SR – you are obviously talking about undergraduate courses. Maybe they can hire folks to take the tests.

  8. Whether you agree or not with Jonah Goldberg’s views, this is one of his best articles I’ve seen from him that has a little bit for everyone to agree on. It hits on the reason I believe this professor is woefully unqualified to be teaching anyone. It identifies the politics behind keeping staffers that have personal shortcomings, and it addresses the disgusting worldview of politicians hellbent on driving this country off the fiscal cliff because they cannot question their ideological GPS. It does explain why true conservatism is not anchored in party politics.

    One of the things I love about conservatism and classical liberalism is that they pan the river of time for the gold of principles amidst the soil of lived existence. These principles don’t always sparkle. Sometimes they are invisible to us, encased in mundane traditions and habits that we take as simple rules. Different thinkers (Burke, Chesterton, Hayek, Polyani, et al.) have different terms for different kinds of knowledge that cannot be simply conveyed with words, such as “tacit,” “hidden,” or “embedded” knowledge. “Washington, D.C., is the capital of the United States” is explicit knowledge. How to throw a curveball involves a lot of tacit knowledge; all the variables that go into the price of a loaf of bed is embedded knowledge; all of the arguments that go into why good manners are valuable is hidden knowledge. The point isn’t that we can’t know some of the factors — the way to hold the ball, the cost of wheat, how to defuse social conflict — that go into these things, it’s just that we can’t know all of them.

    1. What sort of knowledge do we have regarding female gential mutilation?
      Would that be hidden?
      What sort of words does one need to explain or understand the violent sexual indenturedness of certain cultures’s young females?

      1. I doubt hidden given the choice of words to describe it: mutilation, instead of say, reconfiguration or adjustment.

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