TC Minutes 12th December 2018

Teaching Committee Minutes for 12th December 2018.

Meeting Minutes

Informatics Teaching Committee Minutes

14.00hrs, Appleton Tower room 7.14

Present: Alan Smaill, Christophe Dubache, He Sun, Neil Heatley, Ajitha Rajan, Stuart Anderson, Bob Fisher, Qais Patankar, Michael Mistry, Chris Lucas, Gillian Bell.

In Attendance: Gregor Hall (administrator)

19.23 Apologies for absence:  Shay Cohen, DKA Arvind, Sharon Goldwater, Ian Stark, Iain Murray, ALex BUrford, Tim Colles.

19.24 Minutes of Previous Meetings – approved


19.25 Matters Arising

18.04 - Moderation of IPP marks - DoLT has contacted Bjoern Franke, IPP course organizer, who has produced a moderation policy. ACTION: ITO to add policy to policy page. COMPLETE.


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. ONGOING.


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 circulate more detailed information to the Convenors.


18.60-01: DoLT to raise the possibility of PhDs “help hours” in a sub-committee. Requests for support should be modified to include an additional section covering this. ACTION: Recommend changes to the Teaching Support Bids guidance page made by Vicky MacTaggart - COMPLETE.


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. ONGOING.


18.63: Teaching Programme Review – DoLT. A meeting should be arranged in with a named TPR team – to be discussed at next Teaching Committee. OUTSTANDING.


19.06 Proposal to limit UG/MSc project Report Lengths, S.Goldwater. Implementation of this proposal was approved in November TC. Proposer has been contacted regarding the next steps. One member voiced the opinion that projects involving vision and graphics often have a very high page count and so might have a reasonable argument for exemption to the length limit. ACTION: Propose and MSc Project co-ordinator to report on progress for February 2019 TC.


19.09-03: Policy on Late Coursework to be clarified. COMPLETE - This is now available here

and on the LEARN template “Coursework and feedback” page.


19.12 Provision of DPMT for CDTs - A. Lopez. (2) R.Mayr to liaise with T.Spink regarding this modification.


19.19 MSc Student Numbers – MSc Project Manager. ACTION: Head of School to raise at Strategy Committee. The DoLT informed the committee that the specification of recommended courses for the MSc programmes has been tightened up, and that externals are to be recruited for cluster projects in the near future.


19.22 AOCB: Grade Inflation – Head of School.  ACTION: Convenors to investigate the relevant courses. RESPONSE: The Non-Hons Convenor held a meeting with Year 1 & 2 Course Organisers before this TC to discuss, and provided the following:

"At first glance this issue might appear to concern mainly the Honours years - Years 3/4/5 as their marks affect the degree classification. However, the Common Marking Scheme (CMS) should be rigorously applied in the non-Honours years. Students should get used to it, and which will enable us to identify the top-performing "Outstanding" students and recognise their achievements. This requires the lecturers to adhere strictly to the CMS and advertise in the course descriptions as to what is required to be achieved for each of the CMS band."

The UG3 Convenor has contacted the co-ordinators of the relevant courses. The UG4 Convenor, present at the meeting, stated that only three UG4 courses had an average of 70% last year, and had been contacted.

19.26 Mandatory Unconscious Bias Training for Tutors/Demonstrators - N.Heatley / B.Fisher. The proposers introduced the policy, which involves compulsory online training for all T&Ds. They drew attention to the low participation amongst PhDs when requested (13 out of 350 students) and zero participation from staff. The proposer granted that although the online training is a fairly lightweight option, it is a start. Also mentioned were the possibility of using external training courses. It was suggested that the current training for Tutors and Demonstrators include showing the video, but this was countered by the fact that performing the online course provides evidence in the individual’s training record. One member suggested that the online course should be a precursor to more in depth-training, and this was widely thought to be good idea. The Equality and Diversity officer offered to investigate such training options. The student rep provided the details of the online course he had been required to take, named “e-Diversity in the Workplace”, here -

ACTION: E&D Officer to investigate training options, and liaise with Cristina Alexandru / Vicky MacTaggart / Alexandra Welsh regarding the online training requirement.


19.27 Exam Marking Policy - Director of Learning and Teaching

The proposal is to set a policy that governs who can mark exam scripts, and where they can be marked. The DoLT’s initial take on the subject was:

·  If the academic who set the paper is going to mark it then they can take it out of the building provided they take full responsibility for any loss.

·  otherwise the academic who set the paper is responsible for the security of the papers and to assist with this we require all marking to take place in the Forum or AT.

One member of staff asked whether staff should be allowed to take papers out of Edinburgh, as papers have been lost in the past during travel. Another pointed out the need to define exactly who markers are in the policy, considering that PhDs mark papers.

ACTION: DoLT to provide a full policy document.


19.28  Student Surveys - Feedback Officer.

The proposer had sent their apologies and the committee discussed the topic of poor Course Enhancement Questionnaire engagement. A member raised the concept of providing feedback to students form the CEHs. Informatics HR have agreed to make data from the CEQ to the reviewer in staff Personal Development Reviews, and students should be made aware that their comments are being fed back to the course coordinators. Another opinion was that students need to see the effect that CEQs have on the courses. An example of this was the feedback of Weekly Meetings with student reps to course coordinators. The idea of offering incentives such as prizes was deemed mercenary by one member, and another mentioned the balance between quality and participation, pointing out that any method of providing a high level of participation was likely to be detrimental to quality of the data. The Head of ISS informed the committee that a soft touch was take in encouraging participation – the School wanted to make sure that a significant percentage of students took part (50% was required for inclusion in NSS), but without irritating the student body, and that fun incentives like hoodies and coffee were used to this end. It was also mentioned that a certain percentage of any course is simply not interested. The issue of compulsory voting was broached, one member informing the committee that the Vet School got the class together in a single session to do the CEQ. A member stated that the best incentive for participation would be evidence that change occurs as a result. Another point was the problem of continuity when a new lecturer was appointed to a course. The low participation on the Professional Issues course, 12 out of 170, brought up the point that there is very motive to change when such a small percentage of students are willing to express opinions on the course.

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


19.29 Recruitment Report

The Recruitment Officer took the committee over the latest report. The current PGT cohort, including Design Informatics and EPCC courses is 436, 400 excluding EPCC, and these all require project supervisors. This is more than expected, as we had hoped to set a limit of 350. Next year’s target is 321, but it should be noted that this is not a cap, because no such mechanism currently exists in admissions. The DoLT pointed out that there have been significant rises in applications – a 10% year-on-year increase – and Visiting Undergraduate admissions are up too. The VUG targets are very low, as we only wish to take in what we send out, but the majority of visiting students are not on exchange programmes.

19.30 Date of next Teaching Committee - Wed 13th February 2019 (no January TC because of January Boards)


19.31 AOCB

The Year 4 and 5 Organiser brought up the subject of students with mental health problems. It was his concern that the way we were teaching exacerbated the serious mental health issues that a significant proportion of the final year experienced. The DoLT responded that he sees this as a priority; ITO is adding another Student Support Officer and a Student Support admin position. The Student Disability Service (SDS) is also improving its services with the renovation of 7 Bristo Square as the Wellbeing Centre, combining the SDS and Medical centre. The UG4/5 Organiser stressed that the way we run courses has impact on student mental health. The DoLT mentioned that the TC Welfare Sub-Committee is to consider such issues, but has yet to meet. Another member acknowledged that being over-assessed contributes to the pressure on students, and the fact that certain services (such as Appleton Tower DICE labs) are open 24/7 may not be helpful to those student feeling pressured into working longer hours. The DoLT mentioned that feeling over-assessed could in certain cases be a by-product of an unfortunate selection of 10-credit courses. It was also pointed out that very large classes such as IAML could leave students feeling cut adrift, but adequate tutorial support can counteract this.