TC Minutes 13th February 2019

Teaching Committee Minutes for 13th February 2019.

Meeting Minutes

Informatics Teaching Committee Minutes

14.00hrs, Appleton Tower room 7.14


Present: Alan Smaill, Christophe Dubache, Neil Heatley, Ajitha Rajan, Stuart Anderson, Qais Patankar, George Karabassis, Gillian Bell, Sharon Goldwater, Mary Cryan, Katey Lee, Alison Downie, Aurora Constantin, Kami Vaniea, Iain Murray, Don Sannella.

In Attendance: Gregor Hall (administrator)


19.32 Apologies for absence: Helen Pain, Jane Hillston, Judy Robertson.


19.33 Minutes of Previous Meetings – approved


19.34 Matters Arising


18.29-01 – The Convenor raised the ongoing subject of software options for coursework submission. DoLT has contacted the RAT unit and Learning Technologist to consider options. The DoLT stressed that a diversity of submission methods can cause difficulties, giving the issues encountered using TurnItIn in the IRR course as an example. Another was of the opinion that despite the limitations of ‘submit’ it has proved a useful tool over the years. The ITO representative mentioned the University’s preference for anonymous marking, and asked if submission could be done by Exam number and not UUN. It was also mentioned that having some ability to track a piece of coursework was useful, should a student submit incorrectly. The DoLT mentioned that EUSA has been pushing for this for several years now as studies had shown that not using anonymous marking resulted in significant gender bias. A board member strongly suggested that Teaching Committee be kept informed and not presented with a “done deal”.

ACTION: RAT-unit to report on investigations for next TC.


18.59-02: Course Moderation Guidelines.

The BoE Convenors are officially responsible for ensuring that moderation guidelines are available. DoLT has contacted the convenors about this and hopes they will be able to report back for the December meeting of TC.

ACTION: The DoLT is to contact the Convenors on this.


18.60-02: Learning Technologist to produce an overview for the LEARN template. Alex Burford has done so. ACTION: Learning Technologist to run focus groups with students and to look at the staff engagement with LEARN for TC. Once the questionnaire results come back Alex will bring the results to TC. ONGOING.


18.63: Teaching Programme Review – DoLT. This has been postponed.


19.06 Proposal to limit MSc project Report Lengths, S.Goldwater.

The proposer informed the committee that the webpage had been updated, and the MSc Year Organiser had been informed. The webpage also stated that the LaTeX template is compulsory, but the University does have a Word template. One member offered to help with the submission aspect – specifically modifying the LaTeX template but emphasised that this would only be as an aid to the MSc Dissertation co-ordinator. Guidance is also required for those students who check their dissertation length and it is rejected. The Committee Convenor stressed the need for students and supervisors to be made aware of this change. One member pointed out that Design Informatics dissertations tend to be very large in size, and the proposer agreed that this limit could be different to the standard MSc dissertation size.

The Convenor reminded the Committee that Design Informatics dissertations have different criteria.

ACTION 1: Convenor to speak to the Design Informatics Dissertation coordinator.

ACTION 2: Masters Dissertation coordinator to report on progress.


19.12 Provision of DPMT for CDTs - A. Lopez.

The Convenor was of the opinion that CDT staff should be responsible for marker appointment. Technical issues of amending DPMT for CDT marker allocation were discussed, covering load balancing, and the differences between CDT dissertations, which the DoLT described as more fragile and complicated. It was mentioned that the funding of CDTs allowed for more admin resource, and that what had caused problems for Adam Lopez was the lack of provision and need to sort this out at the last minute.


19.26 Mandatory Unconscious Bias Training for Tutors/Demonstrators - N.Heatley / B.Fisher.

E&D Officer to investigate training options, and liaise with Cristina Alexandru / Vicky MacTaggart / Alexandra Welsh regarding the online training requirement. All concerned have been contacted and will deal with this in the summer to have it in place for Semester 1 of 2019-20. ONGOING.


19.27 Exam Marking Policy - Director of Learning and Teaching

ACTION: DoLT to provide a full policy document.


19.28  Student Surveys - Feedback Officer.

ACTION: DoLT to consult with ITO and to publish what we do.


19.35 Hons/MInf projects - minor modifications - Honours/MInf Project co-ordinator

The proposer took the committee through the proposal and items 1 to 3 were agreed upon. The fourth item - on whether both hard and soft copies of the project are necessary - was discussed, with several committee members making it clear that they liked paper copies, and at least one saying that the huge pile they received just took up office space. The committee were reminded that there had been issues with submit in the past, the main one being that students with large quantities of data appendices could cause the system to crash, leading to a highly stressful submission day, whereas with paper copies there was backup. The ITO mentioned the fact that delivery of the hard copies was a problem – it took significant amounts of time and number of admin staff to deliver the paper copies, and because staff pigeonholes were not large enough, delivery had very often to be postponed if staff were not in their offices. On top of this, Forum admin refused to let ITO store the paper copies in the Forum, so multiple trips had to be made, taking up even more time. One proposal was to allow a 24 hour delay in upload of data, but the Honours Project coordinator countered that by saying this would inevitably result in some students working on the data in the additional 24 hours. It was suggested that project data no longer be uploaded, and that it might be possible to provide a link to data in a repository instead. The proposer said that this required a reliable timestamp to prove that data had been in place at the time of submission. The Informatics-hosted GitLab was put forward as possible solution, and although a member pointed out that dates could be pushed to GitLab, the Year 3 Organiser assured the committee that it was nevertheless possible to obtain reliable timestamp. One member preferred that students be allowed to submit data as they can now, even if other submission methods were used. The DoLT was of the opinion that each project should have a data management plan. It was agreed that paperless submission should be attempted this year.

ACTION: Honours/MInf Project co-ordinator to investigate paperless submission of projects, and the best options for submission of project data.


19.36 Recruitment Report - Recruitment Officer

The report was introduced to the committee and discussion ensued. Surprise was expressed by a committee member who had been expecting perhaps 15 students in Cyber-Security and not the target of 40 stated in the report. The implications of the extra deadlines at the end of April and June were queried, and the Recruitment Officer told the committee that Admissions were unwilling to reject applicants who matched the requirements - as a result applications were put on hold. In the region of 4000 applications have been made for the (hoped-for) limit of 300 places. The DoLT believed the conversion rate to be alarmingly high and asked if there was anything that could be altered in the MSC admissions criteria now that would mitigate the potentially record-sized cohort in 2019-20, but the Head of ISS replied that it was too late to change anything, whilst acknowledging that it was a less than ideal scenario.

The Student Support Representative related their experience of meeting with upset students who had were clearly unsuitable for the programmes into which they had been admitted. Previously, failing MSc students tended to have mental health issues but this year the students who have failed 40 credits are simply failing academically.

The information provided to applicants was discussed. It was suggested that a programming exam could be sent to applicants in order to forewarn them of what would be expected in terms of coding ability, and Dotmailer could be used to target specific groups within the application process. Sharon Goldwater had information on the Artificial Intelligence and Data Science areas, and suggested that Bjoern Franke be contacted for Computer Science information. The Convenor added that a staff member be found who can provide Cognitive Science content.

ACTION: K.Vaniea to discuss Cyber-Security number with Head of school and Head of Professional Services ASAP.

ACTION: ITO & DoLT to send AI & DS information via Dotmailer.

ACTION: Convenor to locate a staff member to provide Cognitive Science information.


19.37 Peer Observation of Teaching - ITO and Director of Quality

The committee discussed this, and it was agreed that guidance was required in some form. The DoLT came up with the idea of holding a Teaching Lunch with a representative from the Institute for Academic Development who could instruct staff on best practice.

ACTION: DoLT to contact IAD with view to holding Teaching Lunch.


19.38 AOCB

 Date of next Teaching Committee: Wed 13th of March 2019