TC Minutes 15th August 2018
Teaching Committee Minutes for 15th August 2018.
Informatics Teaching Committee Minutes
Wednesday 15th August 2018 14.00hrs, Appleton Tower room 7.14
Present: Alan Smaill, Convenor Stuart Anderson (Director of Learning and Teaching) Jane Hillston (Head of School) Stephen Gilmore, Sharon Goldwater, Colin Stirling, Pavlos Andreadis, Mary Cryan, Ian Simpson, Alex Lascarides, Chris Lucas, Iain Murray, Chris Lucas, Karen Davidson, Katey Lee.
In Attendance: Gregor Hall (administrator)
18.56 Apologies for Absence: Gillian Bell, Helen Pain, Julian Bradfield.
18.57 Minutes of Previous Meetings – approved
18.58 Matters Arising
(TC May 10th, Item 4) - Proposal to Remove Elevated Hurdles for Progression to Honours - B. Franke. MInf programme - UG2 to UG3 hurdle removed in DPT, UG3 to UG4 hurdle retained. Remaining UG2 to UG3 hurdles still in: BSc Cognitive Science, BSc CS and Management Science, BSc CS & Physics. ACTION: Progression page to be updated by new Senior Tutor.
18.27 - Usage of Appleton Tower room 5.01 - chairs now delivered, large screen ordered. COMPLETE.
18.29-01 – The Convenor raised the ongoing subject of software options for coursework submission. ACTION: to establish sub-committee to investigate options - ONGOING.
18.41 - Exam Rubric Proposal – Sharon Goldwater. ACTION: ITO with Iain Murray to put in place for 2018/19 when he returns. OUTSTANDING.
18.59 Non-Honours Assessment – Iain Simpson The proposer raised the following points, based on both experience as UG1 Convenor and comments from the External Examiner. Informatics 1 – Object Oriented Programming The INF1-OP exam has a high failure rate with many zero marks which is in part due to the format – two questions, with a requirement to compile the program successfully to get any marks at all. Because the structure is inherited from the last course co-ordinator the pattern of bad results is repeated. One option would be to compartmentalise the compile test, and the other would be to divide the exam into more questions. The committee discussed this, noting that the large cohort (over 340 students in 2017-18) makes the exam difficult to mark manually. It was decided that the co-ordinator should bring a report on the exam to the next TC in order to better assess the options.
ACTION (18.59-01): Volker Seeker to provide report on INF1-OP exam for next TC meeting.
The appointment of the (internal) external examiner and (internal) moderator showed that we need to decide upon how we moderate each course, and this needs to be defined in writing. The DoLT mentioned that there are a small number of different models for moderation, and little guidance from College.
ACTION (18.59-02): DoLT to action this. Ian Simpson to provide a “quick start guide to being Convenor”.
The final item was that the multi-part papers we use (mostly for Non-Honours papers) are vulnerable to loss, with the example of an INF2D paper where the Multiple Choice Question section went missing temporarily.
ACTION (18.59-03): DoLT to speak to ITO about the audit process and discuss options.
18.60 Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey – DoLT
The DoLT took us through the survey results and invited discussion. One member raised the issue of the quality of pre-arrival and course guidance, the need for an MSc Handbook to be available earlier, and the possibility of Subject Area / Degree co-ordinators. The DoLT informed the committee that the allocation of duties for 2019/2020 would be starting in December, and that the UG1 webpage is nearly complete. One suggestion was that the students should know, on a week-by-week basis, what they should have learned at any point. Another observation was that the level of Mathematics ability in students was widely varied, and that prerequisites for each course should state very clearly what is required. It was agreed that any published information would be best never to understate the difficulty and intensity of a Masters programme. One member advised that Computing Support or TA resource be allocated to technical help sessions in using tools such as GitHub, running long-term jobs, etc. One complaint from the survey was that tutorial groups were too large. The DoLT pointed out that Informatics is currently spending around 0.5 million pounds on Tutors and Demonstrators, and suggested that PhDs may prefer paid “help hours”, for example answering Piazza forum questions.
ACTION (18.60-01): DoLT to raise the possibility of PhDs “help hours” in a sub-committee.
It was expressed that the reduction in choice of the MSc programmes, and the possibility of quotas in 2019/2020 would reduce numbers, and hopefully the associated complaints. One complaint was that the percentage of coursework was not high enough, but this was countered by the explanation that coursework is preparation for the exam. Another complaint was the use of AV in lectures was poor, which brought the response that students should tell us at the time, not in an end of semester survey. The LEARN template has had a mixed reception from the Teaching Staff and it was suggested that an Overview from the Learning Technologist would help.
ACTION (18.60-02): Learning Technologist to produce an overview for the LEARN template.
The survey produced criticism for IRR/IPP. In IRR some groups did not have tutors for weeks, and IRP should have started promptly. The new co-ordinator is aware of and tackling these issues. A Board member stated that repeated complaints occur each year for certain courses, and that firmer management was required to force change. The Head of School replied that because the University as a whole did badly in the National Student Survey, we can expect more oversight from above. It was the Head of School’s opinion that Degree Programme co-ordinator role needs to be a stronger one. The UG4 Year Organiser said that External Examiners had been passing courses in cases where they had reason not to, and that Year Organisers need to talk to Course Coordinators when there are issues. The social aspect of studying produced criticism, namely that there was no sense of community within the MSc cohort. The Student Support team pointed out that this came up frequently, and that the numbers of MSc students did not help, although there was praise for the Cognitive Science Masters. The DoLT has been talking to the Careers Service about holding talks for specific career paths. It was observed that students tended to bond in courses where there was group work, such as SDP. One suggested solution was that as IRR is split into topic areas, social events could be held for these groups. Dissertations were discussed next. The Degree Programme Management Tool attracted criticism along the lines that it was a “black box” system, one committee member voicing the opinion that more transparency was necessary.
ACTION (18.60-03): It was agreed that the DPMT specification should be brought to Teaching Committee; Tom Spink.
The Student Support Team pointed out that students want to know earlier about seminars, without spamming the student body needlessly – consultation with InfComms is required.
ACTION (18.60-04): ITO-SST and InfComms to collaborate on this.
18.62 Course Enhancement Questionnaires – DoLT. The DoLT raised the possibility of putting a mentoring system in place. This would allow staff to get advice on any issues raised in their CEQ. The Head of School drew attention to the fact that Teaching is part of each member of staff’s Personal Development Review and that CEQs could be used in the PDR. Other board members were of the opinion that this information should be used carefully because of the known limitations of the data.
18.63 Teaching Programme Review – DoLT A meeting should be arranged in October or November with a named TPR team – to be discussed at September Teaching Committee.
18.64 For Information: Careers Destination report .It was observed that the School appeared to be doing well.
18.65 Recruitment Report - Helen Pain. An MSc cohort of 320 had been predicted this year. Caps are to be added next year. It was noted that there was no noticeable decline in EU admissions this year, perhaps unexpected in the light of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
18.66 Date of Next Teaching Committee Meeting: Wed September 12th, 2pm.