CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07
College of Humanities and Social Sciences College Quality Assurance and Enhancement Committee (CQAEC) Report to Senatus Quality Assurance and Enhancement Committee (SQAEC) for 2006-07
1. Summary The report details the Quality Assurance and Enhancement procedures employed within the College and how they have been implemented in 2006-07. This covers monitoring by Schools of about 1350 UG courses and over 200 UG programmes, and about 140 PGT programmes, as well as programmes and courses in the Office of Lifelong Learning (OLL). The report is based on CQAEC‟s review of the annual QAE reports submitted to the College by the Schools within the College and by OLL. The report also takes account of External Examiners‟ reports, external reviews and accreditations of programmes including Teaching Programmes Reviews and Quinquennial reviews. It provides the opportunity to reflect on issues raised through the QAE processes, and to share good practice, in particular in relation to the College Learning and Teaching Strategy, and thereby to enhance the quality of learning and teaching in the College. In general it is clear that Schools and OLL have broadly appropriate QAE procedures in place for undergraduate and taught postgraduate provision in line with College QAE requirements. There is evidence of improvements over the past year in relation to some Schools‟ QAE procedures, with marked progress in some Schools in relation to the monitoring of postgraduate taught provision. The Committee is seeking to broaden its overview of QAE procedures to include Continuing Professional Development and the taught element of research postgraduate. The report also covers the QAE monitoring arrangements of Edinburgh College of Art (eca) which has a Memorandum of Agreement with the University for the accreditation of eca awards by the University. On the basis of the institutional QAE report submitted by eca, the Committee is content that eca continues to have appropriate QAE systems in place. 2. Aims and Objectives This report indicates the extent to which Schools within the College, and OLL, have Quality Assurance and Enhancement procedures that can be said to be appropriate, comprehensive and effective, and the extent to which the relevant material and statistics have been returned. It also provides the College the opportunity to review the appropriateness of its quality assurance and enhancement procedures. Appendices 2 and 3 provide detailed commendations and recommendations on all QAE reports. The report identifies any issues and trends arising from QAE reports, especially those that might have wider bearing for teaching across the College and University as well as within any particular review area. The report also provides the opportunity to
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 acknowledge and share good practice, particularly in relation to the College Learning and Teaching Strategy. The report also reviews eca‟s institutional QAE report in the context of the Memorandum of Agreement between the institutions for the accreditation of eca awards by the University. 3. The operation of annual College Quality Assurance and Enhancement Procedures Responsibility for the implementation of Quality Assurance and Enhancement is devolved to Schools and OLL and is overseen by the College Quality Assurance and Enhancement Committee (CQAEC) through the Schools‟ and OLL‟s annual QAE reports. Each year the College sets out the requirements for QAE reports in a guidance document. CQAEC agreed the guidance for 2006-07 at its meeting on 15 November 2007. In most respects the draft guidance is similar to that which applied for reporting on 2005-06. The main change is that Schools and OLL are now asked to report on their progress in implementing the College Learning and Teaching Strategy. The guidance is located at: www.hss.ed.ac.uk/AcademicAdmin/QualAssurance/QAEGuidance.htm Sections 3.1 to 3.7 analyse the nature of engagement with QAE procedures across the College. Appendix 2 provides detailed commendations and recommendations for each School in respect of its QAE report, and Appendix 3 provides equivalent material in relation to OLL. 3.1 Procedures for reviewing School QAE reports Each annual QAE report is reviewed by the CQAEC, both through focussed subgroup meetings and through a main meeting of CQAEC. As part of this process, a member of CQAEC is allocated as lead reviewer for each QAE report. The lead reviewer identifies areas of good practice for dissemination within the College and any concerns arising out of the report. CQAEC then discusses these issues, and identifies specific and general issues arising from each QAE report. In the past, the Committee has allocated each review area a different lead reviewer to the one allocated the previous year. This year, the Committee decided that, where possible, it would allocate the same lead reviewer to a review area for two consecutive years. This was not possible in all cases, due to changes in School representatives on the Committee. However, where this was possible, the feedback has been positive. 3.2 Location of responsibility for QAE within Schools The vast majority of Schools in CHSS now have well-established structures of responsibility for QAE issues, and do not have immediate plans to make substantial changes. Schools generally conduct the detailed work of reviewing Course
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Monitoring Forms at subject area level, typically through Teaching Review meetings, though in some cases these are also reviewed at School level by the QAE Committee or Director of Quality. Some Schools then consider the outcomes of this review process at a formal QAE Committee meeting, whereas other Schools have a designated individual responsible at School level for collating the outcomes of subject area reviews into a single School QAE report. In the case of most Schools, QAE issues are referred to a range of different formal Committees even where there is a formal QAE Committee. One School (Education) is in the process of a fundamental review of the governance, management and Committee structures for handling QAE processes. Another School (Health in Social Science) recognises the potential benefits of further standardisation of its QAE procedures across its different subject areas, and is currently working to address this issue. As was the case in the previous session, in 2007-08 some Schools have had difficulties in achieving continuity of representation on the CQAEC Committee as a result of staff sabbaticals. It is necessary to stress the importance for Schools to have continuity of representation, in order that their representatives can participate fully in the process of peer reviewing of School QAE reports and in the activities of the Committee more generally. Whilst the School representatives have performed admirably under the circumstances, the College will continue to encourage Schools to as far as possible nominate the same QAE representative for the full year, and ideally for three consecutive years. However, it is unlikely that the pressures on Heads of Schools to set up these arrangements will diminish in 2008-09. 3.3 Course and Programme Monitoring The College has well established procedures for course monitoring based on standard templates, which it did not change for 2006-07. From School QAE reports, it is clear that Schools made further improvements during 2006-07 in terms of obtaining completed CMFS for courses, with eight out of ten Schools now achieving a full or almost full return rate for undergraduate and taught postgraduate courses. Of the two Schools that did not quite achieve this rate of success, one has provided a clear explanation for the circumstances and has made recommendations for addressing these issues, and the other plans to implement revised course monitoring arrangements for Honours courses that run in 2007-08 in order to address the procedural weaknesses that have been identified. QAE procedures at PGT level have historically not been as systematic as the arrangements at UG level. The number of PGT programmes in the College has increased substantially in recent years, from about 115 in 2005-06 to about 140 in 2006-07 and is expected to rise to about 170 by 2008-09. The number of PGT students in the College has increased during this period from 1248 FTE in 2002-03 (the year in which the College was established) to 1590 in 2005-06 and 1902 in 200607. This expansion in PGT activity will increasingly require Schools to have in place systematic QAE procedures. Substantial progress on this agenda was achieved in 2006-07, particularly in two Schools, and as a result all Schools now report that they have systematic arrangements for PGT course monitoring, though in some cases these arrangements may need to be consolidated.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 In 2005-06 the College for the first time asked Schools to extend course monitoring to include the taught element of postgraduate research degrees. One School (Social and Political Studies) introduced arrangements for this in 2005-06 and has continued to operate them in 2006-07. The College is not aware of any other School having addressed this issue. The Committee will continue to reinforce the need for monitoring the taught elements of PGR degrees, and will make this an item for discussion at its meeting in May 2008. The Committee has suggested that the College amend its QAE reporting Checklist so as to encourage Schools to report separately on the satisfactory return of CMFs for UG courses, CMFs for PGT courses, and CMFs for the taught elements of PGR programmes. 3.4 Presentation and analysis of statistics
For the 2005-06 review process the College substantially revised the aspects of guidance that relate to course and programme monitoring, and the production of statistics. This guidance remained largely unchanged for 2006-07. In general Schools are following this guidance, and there is a greater degree of compliance in 2006-07 than there was in 2005-06. However, several Schools still have significant opportunities to make further progress in terms of the completeness of statistics. Whilst some Schools are using their QAE reports to demonstrate excellent practice in reflecting on patterns and trends of course and programme outcomes, a minority of Schools provide a very limited amount of reflection and remain uncertain regarding how to go about this. The production of statistical information for QAE reporting purposes can be laborious and in some respects is hampered by the limitations of the current student record systems. For example, it is difficult to produce DACS reports on course results that allow Schools to reflect on the implementation of the Extended Common Marking Scheme by breaking the A grade into A1/A2/A3. As was the case last year, the College has worked with Registry to provide Schools with standard information on joint degree outcomes, since some Schools have found it difficult to collate this information in relation to joint degrees for which they are not the lead School. CQAEC has also discussed and agreed a set of standard reports that it would like EUCLID to provide to meet School QAE reporting requirements. The Committee has encouraged some Schools to make further improvements in aspects of the collation and presentation of statistics ahead of the introduction of EUCLID, though it does not consider it an efficient use of Schools‟ time to put disproportionate time into these developments. 3.5 Student engagement with QAE processes School QAE reports demonstrate that there is considerable good practice across the Colleges regarding obtaining feedback from students on the learning experience, varying from the use of standard mechanisms of Staff Student Liaison Committees and course questionnaires, to having student membership on other School Committees, holding open fora for students, and running programme level questionnaires. It is clear that many Schools are actively reflecting on whether there are ways to enhance these arrangements.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07
Over the past year, CQAEC has discussed in depth the issue of the design and management of student course feedback questionnaires, and has considered in detail the different questionnaire instruments in use across the College. It has agreed that the College should develop a standard course questionnaire, drawing on good practice in the College and beyond. Schools would be free to use this standard questionnaire (modified or supplemented with additional questions if necessary), or to continue to use alternative instruments if they consider them more appropriate to their disciplines. The Committee discussed this draft questionnaire at its meeting on 13 March 2008, and plans to refine it and then pilot it during 2008-09. In addition to operating course questionnaires, there is evidence of a gradual shift towards an increased use of Schools operating programme-level questionnaires. The College is aware of this practice within six Schools, and it is possible that this practice is operating in other areas. There are further opportunities to expand the use of programme questionnaires in the College, and this could give Schools valuable information regarding their provision. However, there are risks that if Schools introduce programme questionnaires in an uncoordinated way then this could lead to survey fatigue among students, particularly in the context of the increasing prominence of the National Student Survey. Academic Policy Committee discussed the idea of a University undergraduate programme questionnaire at its meeting in December 2007, and it would be helpful if APC could clarify whether it is likely to pursue this concept further, in order that Schools can take this into account in developing their own plans. 3.6 Peer Observation of Teaching CQAEC is of the view that POT can be a helpful and developmental practice both for the observer and observed, and should be a significant part of Schools‟ learning and teaching strategies. It has therefore actively encouraged Schools to implement systems for POT, where they did not already operate, and has actively monitored Schools‟ progress in this respect. CQAEC reported last year that there was progress across the College in relation to POT, with three Schools (History and Classics, MSE, and PPLS) having taken steps to increase POT activities, two further Schools (SPS and Education) having plans to increase POT activities. The evidence from this year‟s QAE process confirms that most of these Schools have made progress in implementing POT, though MSE does not consider its system to be working effectively. In addition, two other Schools (Law and Health) have decided to introduce School-wide approaches to POT. OLL has also taken steps to formalise its peer observation activities. In general, therefore, the College is moving towards more formalised POT activities. However, participation levels remain low in some subject areas within Schools that have formal policies, and three Schools (Divinity, LLC, ACE) do not have formal policies, though POT does occur at subject area level in two of these Schools. It is clear that the formal University position on POT, that all teaching staff should be observed once per year, is considered too onerous by a large number of Schools. The Committee is aware that SQAEC has responded positively to approaches to POT that give priority to the development of staff early in their careers at the University.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Several of the Schools that have developed their formal approaches to POT in the past year have done so on the basis of providing annual observation for staff early in their careers at the University, and the potential for a lesser frequency of observation for staff later in their careers at the University. Several other Schools have aimed for different approaches that are also light-touch in comparison with the formal University position. 3.7 QAE procedures for the Office of Lifelong Learning
OLL became part of CHSS during 2004-05 and as a result became subject to CHSS‟s quality procedures. The nature of OLL‟s work differentiates it from Schools in CHSS but since becoming part of the College it has made steady progress towards harmonising with the underlying principles of the CHSS QAE guidelines, though in some cases its actual procedures differ from those operating in Schools. Over the past year OLL has undertaken extensive work to develop and implement new QAE procedures for gathering and reflecting on feedback from students, tutors and external examiners for CPE courses in line with CQAEC guidelines, yet tailored to „fit‟ with specific OLL teaching and learning objectives and practices. This includes the introduction in Summer 2007 of Course Monitoring Forms (CMFs) and the annual use of online student questionnaires for all courses. OLL has also reflected on ways to engage students in QAE procedures, despite the difficulties in doing this with its parttime student body, through initiatives such as student feedback meetings and including student membership on the Interim Validation Board for Continuing Studies. The College views OLL‟s progress towards harmonisation with its QAE procedures very positively. It will monitor the implementation of these developments. The College is in discussion with OLL and the Institute of Applied Language Studies regarding structural changes to bring together the two units from 1 August 2008, and it will be important that QAE procedures are considered as part of these developments. 4. External Examiners
The procedures for dealing with undergraduate external examiners‟ reports are as follows: External Examiners send their reports directly to the Head of College. The Associate Dean (QAE) reads and acknowledges reports on behalf of the Head of College. The Associate Dean (QAE) marks up the reports with starred points requiring responses or actions, and forwards them to the relevant Head of School. Schools respond directly to the External Examiner with copies to the Associate Dean (QAE). (Heads of Schools may delegate this task to a member of staff with an appropriate remit within the School.) The Associate Dean (QAE) writes directly to External Examiners where they raise issues of relevance to the College or University. The Associate Dean (QAE) provides Heads of Schools with more detailed analyses of the External Examiners Reports, and produces a College report on External Examiners Reports for the Head of College and University Director of
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Quality Assurance and Enhancement, which identifies themes and issues within the College which may require actions. Through the annual QAE reporting process, Schools indicate any relevant Schoolwide issues arising out of the external examining process, and confirm that appropriate action is being taken in response to all external examiners‟ reports.
Last year‟s report indicated that the College had not managed to obtain two external examiners‟ reports for 2005-06. The College subsequently obtained one of these reports. It did not prove possible to obtain the report from the other external examiner, due to the long-term illness of the examiner. In 2006-07 the College obtained reports from all 146 Undergraduate External Examiners. In general, the reports confirm that the quality and standards of undergraduate programmes and courses within the College are of an appropriate level, and that assessment processes were being followed. Where the reports raised any particular issues which may require action at School level, the College has raised them with Schools. Appendix 5 sets out the Associate Dean (QAE)‟s findings from his review of these reports. The College Postgraduate Office conducts a broadly similar process for postgraduate taught external examiners‟ reports as that with applies at undergraduate level. The Postgraduate Office has for the first time produced a report summarising themes in postgraduate external examiners‟ reports. This report, which covers 2005-06 reports, is attached as Appendix 6. The report indicates that overall the level of teaching and learning opportunities is comparable to those at other institutions, and in some cases exceeds them. Whilst the majority of feedback from external examiners was positive, the report does identify some issues which may require action, the most frequent of which related to consistency of marking in relation to the Postgraduate Common Marking Scheme. In 2005-06 there were 106 external examiners for PGT programmes, of which the College received reports from 94. The report also indicates that there was an apparently substantial shortfall in formal School responses to the external examiner reports. The College has strengthened the procedures for obtaining reports from external examiners, and the College Postgraduate Studies Committee has stressed to Schools the importance of responding formally to external examiners. Due to the timescales of PGT examination board arrangements, and the necessity to follow up some external examiners to obtain their reports, it has not yet been possible for the College to produce the report for 2006-07 PGT external examiner reports though its work on this is underway. When the report is complete it will be submitted to the College PG Studies Committee and included as an Appendix in next year‟s CQAEC report. In 2007-08 CHSS introduced a standard structure for setting undergraduate external examiner fees, which it had developed in partnership with the College of Science and Engineering and the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine. This new approach, under which external examiners are allocated to fee bands on the basis of the number of credits that they are responsible for examining, will provide a consistent and transparent approach to setting fees for undergraduate external examiners. At the same time as introducing this new fee structure, the College has devolved to Schools the budgets for undergraduate external examiner fees and expenses, which should give Schools incentives to reflect on the number of external examiners they require for their programmes. The College continued to operate its existing fee structure for
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 postgraduate taught external examiner fees. 5. Internal and External Reviews of Programmes
Teaching Programme Reviews The CQAEC report on 2006-07 indicated that the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences had not yet submitted a formal response for the 2005-06 TPR of English Language. The School has now provided a formal response. The following TPRs took place in 2006-07 in CHSS: Classics Economics History of Art Philosophy
Schools have provided formal responses in relation to all these TPRs. These formal responses, which are satisfactory in addressing the recommendations in a constructive manner, are attached as appendices. CQAEC considered the outcomes of the 2006-07 TPRs at its meeting on 15 November 2007. CUGSC will consider these outcomes at its meeting on 17 April 2008. In addition to recommendations and commendations particular to the review area, the following specific issues and themes arose from the 2006-07 TPRs: Substantial change underway in academic staffing and / or curriculum design in the majority of the areas. Considerable reflection underway regarding possible approaches to direction of studies and pastoral support for students, and the value of support staff involvement in this. Both commendations for existing good practice in feedback to students on assessment and recommendations for improved feedback delivery. The commitment of staff at all levels to deliver research-based teaching. Increased use of e-learning to enhance the learning experience, despite some issues regarding support for these developments.
The first issue is primarily a matter for the individual review areas to address. The latter four issues are covered in depth in Section 8 below. Quinquennial Reviews The CQAEC report on 2005-06 indicated that the College had not yet received a formal response for the QQRs of ACE (2004-05). ACE have now submitted a formal response. The only Quinquennial Reviews of postgraduate programmes held in 200607 was for the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures. The report indicated that the panel was impressed overall with the commitment and dedication of the School staff and the high quality of their courses and students. The Panel made a wide range of recommendations for the School to consider, particularly with regard to the
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 need for greater cohesion within the School. The School is in the process of formulating its response. Professional and Statutory Body Reviews The following external bodies accredited programmes in the College in 2006-07: The Nursing and Midwifery Council reviewed the BN (Hons) Nursing. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland reviewed the MA (Hons) Economics and Accounting, MA (Hons) Business Studies and Accounting, and LLB Law and Accountancy. AMBA (Association of MBAs) reviewed the full-time and part-time MBA and the MBA in International Business.
The College has informed CQAEC of the positive outcome of each of these accreditations, and of the schedule of Professional and Statutory Body reviews in 2007-08 and later. 6. QAE arrangements for Continuing Professional Development provision
In its last report, CQAE signalled that it planned to work with relevant areas of the College to develop appropriate QAE arrangements for CPD provision, where they are not already in place. Whilst the College has undertaken some preliminary discussion regarding this matter, it has not yet taken it forward. It plans to submit a paper on this matter to SQAEC‟s meeting on 22 April 2008, and then take the matter forward in the course of 2008. 7. Issues identified through QAE processes
From a review of Schools‟ and OLL‟s QAE reports, TPRs, External Examiners‟ reports, and the results of the National Student Survey, the following issues appear particularly worthy of attention and require action. Most of them have been raised in previous years, and the College or University is already coordinating action in relation to many to them. There is no evidence of new issues emerging. 7.1 Introduction of Extended Common Marking Scheme and Honours Degree Classification by Mean Mark The majority of Schools reflect on the impact of the ECMS in their QAE reports, as do a large number of undergraduate external examiners. In general, it appears that the ECMS has as yet only had limited effect on marking habits, with little evidence of increased use of the full 30 point range of the A grade, and a degree of inconsistency between areas in terms of marking practice. The vast majority of external examiners do not comment directly on the appropriateness of the Scheme. However, those that do comment tend to be critical of aspects of the Scheme, particularly its nonlinearity. Senatus should take into account these comments when it reviews progress in implementing the Scheme. It is not clear whether the full implementation of the Scheme simply requires time for markers to become accustomed to new marking practice, or whether more practical activities should be undertaken at School or College level to stimulate discussion about appropriate marking practices within the
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 new Scheme. The College will continue to review Schools‟ progress in implementing the Scheme, and encourages Schools to consider ways to stimulate discussion regarding appropriate marking practices, for example along the lines of the Away Day held by Classics. There is little evidence in School QAE reports that the new approach to classification by mean mark has led to any practical difficulties for examination boards. Whilst some external examiners raise concern that operating a system of classification by mean mark in conjunction with the ECMS could lead to an upward drift in first class degrees, there is no evidence that any significant shifts in patterns regarding student degree outcomes have occurred, though there may have been changes at the level of individual programmes. These issues have also been discussed at the College UG Studies Committee on 22 November 2007, and it reached similar conclusions. Whilst discussion regarding the implementation of the Extended Common Marking Scheme has tended to focus on the undergraduate ECMS, PGT external examiners reports suggest that there are similar issues regarding the use of the postgraduate Common Marking Scheme. 7.2 Approaches to Moderation
The comments of undergraduate external examiners suggest that the use of doublemarking remains widespread in the College. The Committee encourages Schools to consider moving from double-marking to develop strategic forms of moderation which safeguard academic standards while utilising teaching resources more effectively. Moving away from double-marking to more efficient forms of moderation can assist Schools in providing prompter return of coursework to students and in coping with the tight turnaround times for marking following the May examination diet. The Committee is therefore encouraged that one School and two subject areas indicate that they are planning to increase the use of moderation, rather than double marking for coursework. In developing their approaches to moderation Schools should take into account the support requirements for markers new to University marking, and should encourage moderator to consider the quality of the feedback to students as well as the standards of marking. Double marking is still appropriate for dissertations. 7.3 Library resources As in the last two years, some Schools have used their QAE reports to express concerns about the provision of Library resources and the implications for teaching. In addition, the College receives separate annual Library statements from Schools. From these statements, and the QAE reports, it is clear that in general Schools continue to face upward pressures on their Library materials budgets and this is constraining their ability to provide appropriate Library materials to support their learning and teaching. It is also clear that a minority of Schools have concerns regarding the implementation of the new College Library materials allocation model. The College will pass the comments in the QAE reports to the College Library Committee.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 7.4 Teaching accommodation Concern regarding teaching accommodation remains a common issue in School reports. Half of Schools raise concerns regarding aspects of teaching accommodation, particularly regarding the limited availability of teaching rooms for seminars and the consistency of equipment in these rooms. The University‟s Learning & Teaching Spaces Study Project also stressed the importance of achieving a common standard of furnishing and equipment of small teaching rooms. In some respects, the University‟s Estates Strategy will lead to the reduction in the availability of some types of teaching spaces. 7.5 Student attendance at tutorials
One School (SPS) reports on the operation of the School-wide policy of penalty marks for non-attendance in ordinary level courses that it introduced in 2005-06. Discussion with School representatives during the QAE review process suggests that this issue has wide resonance across Schools in the College, and that since the abolition of the Due Performance system Schools have introduced a range of similar strategies, such as assessing tutorial contribution, to encourage students to attend tutorials. The College Undergraduate Studies Committee will explore this issue with Schools, in order to clarify the reasons for non-attendance and identify the pros and cons of different approaches to improving attendance levels. It is also possible that the EUCLID project may result in changes in assessment practice in this respect. 7.6 Study abroad
In 2006-07 the University introduced arrangements whereby the University counts non-compulsory study abroad in year three as credit towards the award of degrees but classifies degrees solely on the basis of students‟ year four work. The Committee had agreed that in 2007-08 it would carefully review the impact of this major development in terms of programme outcomes. It plans to consider this issue at its meeting in May 2008. A substantial number of UG external examiners criticise the University‟s policy of not counting marks for non-compulsory study abroad towards degree classification. However, while these concerns are understandable, there are considerable issues regarding the reliability of translating marks from other institutions onto the University of Edinburgh scale, and consequent equity issues for students in attempting to do this. For these reasons the College does not plan to invite Senatus to reconsider its policy on this matter. 7.7 Impact of increases in student numbers As was the case for the previous two years, almost half of Schools refer to the impact on staff workload of increases in student numbers, largely in relation to increases in postgraduate taught student numbers. It is possible that this increase in workload could impact on the quality of teaching, for example if it led to a decline in staff morale. However, while one School reports an increase in pressure on teaching staff as a result of these pressures, another School reports reduced concern on this front.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 There is therefore no evidence in School QAE reports that these pressures are increasing across the College as a whole. 7.8 External examining of pre-Honours courses Undergraduate external examiners are required to review and formally sign off the outcomes of pre-Honours as well as Honours courses. This is particularly important because students can receive University awards (the Certificate and Diploma of Higher Education) solely on the basis of pre-Honours courses. However, the College understands that some externals examiners may be focussing their efforts on Honours courses and may not in all cases be giving sufficient attention to pre-Honours provision. Some undergraduate external examiners‟ reports confirm this situation. The College QAE Committee will discuss this issue at its meeting in May 2008. 8. College Learning and Teaching Strategy and related Quality Enhancement matters
In December 2007 the College Planning and Resources Committee approved the College‟s Learning and Teaching Strategy, which is attached as Appendix 7. In March 2007 the College held a well-attended event to formally launch the Strategy. The Strategy consists of nine particular implementation points, and a wider framework of principles. In April 2007 the College issued guidance to Schools and OLL on implementing the Strategy. It asked that Schools and OLL engage with the specific implementation points, and that they consciously and systematically reflect on the Strategy as a whole and on how they plan to implement it in ways most compatible with their particular disciplines and contexts. The College asked Schools and OLL to report back in their QAE reports on progress in implementing the Strategy. The College will undertake its first annual review of the implementation of the L&T Strategy in April 2008 with the assistance of a review group composed of representatives from the College‟s Undergraduate Studies, Postgraduate Studies, and QAE Committees, and a student representative. Whilst this QAE report does not seek to pre-empt that review or to provide information regarding progress on all aspects of the Strategy, Sections 8.1 to 8.9 do provide some information regarding activities in support of the Strategy, and other learning and teaching enhancement activities in the College. 8.1 Coverage of the Strategy in QAE reports
The vast majority of Schools do comment in their QAE reports on how they are responding to the Strategy, as does OLL. It appears that Schools are predominantly focussing their attentions on the issues of research-teaching linkages, induction and study skills, Personal Development Planning, and e-learning. However, there is considerable variability regarding the extent to which Schools have actively discussed the Strategy and developed plans in response to it. 8.2 Personal Development Planning and employability
Introducing Personal Development Planning is an important element of the College‟s L&T Strategy. The College held a well-attended workshop in December 2006 to
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 initiate a College-wide debate regarding the form that PDP should take in the College and how it could be implemented and supported on an ongoing basis, in parallel with the introduction of e-portfolio software. Subsequent to this workshop the College discussed a proposed approach to implementing PDP at its UG, PG and QAE Committees in April / May 2007, and is now in the early stages of implementing this approach, which focuses on integrating PDP into discipline-specific learning and teaching activities. The College has set up an E-Portfolio Steering Group to assist it in implementing its plans for PDP. The group has met four times during 2007-08 and has agreed an e-portfolio template to be used in a programme of pilots at undergraduate and postgraduate taught level across the College. Two relatively modest pilots are running in 2007-08, and the College is working with subject areas regarding plans for three or four further pilots for 2008-09. Since the majority of the pilots will not run until 2008-09, the College has delayed its plans to make the eportfolio available to UG and PGT students across the College until the beginning of 2009-10 in order that it can learn from these pilots. The College has asked the Careers Service, which is coordinating the University‟s Scottish Funding Council-funded Employability project, to use the project to assist Schools to introduce Personal Development Planning, as well as to support other initiatives related to employability. The College has also assisted the Employability project in its work to develop a University statement on graduate attributes, by holding focus groups for staff and students. 8.3 Provision of feedback to students on assessment During 2006-07 the College worked with Schools to find ways to enhance aspects of assessment and feedback, one of the nine themes within the College Learning and Teaching Strategy. The College discussed the issue widely during 2006-07 at CUGSC and CQAEC. In addition, many College and School staff attended the EUSA workshop on Enhancing First Year Feedback Together in February 2007. These extensive discussions have led to an increased awareness within the College of the importance and benefits of providing student feedback in relation to examinations, and led to four subject areas agreeing to run pilots approaches to examination feedback. In line with Academic Policy Committee‟s position, the College encouraged Schools to introduce a „staged approach‟ to feedback to students on level 7 and 8 examination performance. However, in the light of the results of the 2007 survey, the College Planning and Resources Committee considered that the College should give greater impetus to enhancing this aspect of learning and teaching. CUGSC subsequently agreed guidance covering feedback on examinations for first and second year courses, promptness of feedback on courses, and providing greater clarity on assessment and feedback in course handbooks. The College also provided Schools with sources of good practice and ran a session on feedback and assessment at its February 2008 meeting. Schools are in the process of considering how to implement the College‟s guidance, and the College is monitoring their progress. It is notable that where external examiners do comment on feedback to students their views are overwhelmingly positive regarding practices in the College. This suggests that there are examples of good practice within the College, which could be rolled out more widely.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 8.4 Research-teaching linkages
The College‟s Associate Dean (QAE) has surveyed research-teaching linkages in the College in his role as the University‟s Institutional Coordinator for the relevant Enhancement Theme. Almost all Schools sent representatives to the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Assessment‟s Colloquium on Research-Teaching Linkages in June 2007, and the College has also encouraged Schools to send representatives to the EUSA Colloquium on the topic to be held on 19 March 2008. 8.5 E-Learning
In June 2007 the College Planning and Resources Committee approved a formal College E-Learning Strategy, and in 2007-08 the College appointed Dr Charlotte Waelde (School of Law) as its E-Learning Advisor to take forward the Strategy. As an early priority she has focussed on mapping support structures for e-learning in the College and identifying ways to improve this, and developing an online discussion forum. She has also sought to encourage the use of e-learning in relation to assessment in particular, for example through coordinating discussions regarding possible pilots using computers to provide students with feedback on assessment. It is clear from School QAE reports that all Schools are actively engaging with the elearning agenda, with many of them reporting increased use of WebCT, and some of them reporting very innovative approaches to e-learning. 8.6 Appraisal
As part of its Learning and Teaching Strategy, the College has encouraged Schools to widen the use of appraisal. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some Schools have made progress in widening the use of appraisal over the past year. The College E&D Committee is overseeing this development, and has asked Schools to report formally on progress. 8.7 Teachability
The College has continued to encourage Schools to undertake Teachability reviews, and has provided advice and support to individual Schools in relation to this. Schools have made further progress on Teachability since last year, with HCA, OLL and MSE producing Teachability reports, and ACE having completed their review though they have yet to produce a final report. The College is aware that Education and LLC have also made good progress in relation to their Teachability reviews. 8.8 Enhanced System for Direction of Studies
The College introduced a new system for Direction of Studies in 2007-08. Under this system, Schools have appointed Student Support Officers to conduct many of the administrative functions previously carried out by Directors of Studies, such as confirming the presence of students within University and registering students on courses. Under the new system, most members of academic staff will be DoSs. The College has set up a group to formally review the new system. The group is due to conduct its review during March and April of 2008. In conducting this review, the
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 College will take into account the University‟s wider review of academic and pastoral support. 8.9 Examples of good practices
From Schools QAE reports, and the report of OLL, it is clear that there is great variety of Learning and Teaching practices. Identified examples of good practices include: The School of Arts, Culture and Environment‟s plans to enhance induction processes for students. The School of Divinity‟s plans to run a pilot using laptop computers for traditional essay-based examinations at undergraduate level on a mock basis, with support from the Principal‟s Teaching Award Fund. Proactive approaches to gathering student feedback in the School of Education, including holding „open fora‟ at the end of courses. The use of Strategic Away Days in the School of Health in Social Science. The introduction of feedback on third year examinations by Economic and Social History. The School of Law‟s project to track student progression and to examine the relationship between entrance qualifications and student performance. The development of online language exercises in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures. The creation of a new Help Desk for MSc Economics students, following on the success of a Help Desk in undergraduate Economics The development of a Personal Development Portfolio for first year Psychology students. The introduction of a dedicated session on „Working at Honours level‟ in the School of Social and Political Studies. The improvement of procedures for student involvement in QAE procedures in the Office of Lifelong Learning.
9. A Forward Look During the remainder of 2007-08 and into 2008-09 the College will continue to focus on implementing its Learning and Teaching Strategy. The priorities and specific activities may be influenced by the scheduled review of the Strategy. The College anticipates that they will include: A programme of E-portfolio pilots Developmental work in relation to peer support for learning, with particular reference to year one Good practice sharing activities in relation to research-teaching linkages Support for e-learning developments Continued monitoring of Schools‟ progress in relation to feedback on assessment
The College will also continue to engage with the EUCLID project, and the Assessment Administration Working Group, as well as developments such as the introduction and embedding of workload allocation models which, put together, will result in a major process of change in the management of teaching and assessment. It
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 will inevitably be challenging for the College, and for individual Schools, to give their full attention to the learning and enhancement agenda at the same time as helping deliver these crucial projects. 10. eca
The Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the University of Edinburgh and eca for the accreditation of eca awards by the University came into force in 2004-05. Under these arrangements, the CHSS CQAEC has responsibility for detailed review of the operation of eca‟s QAE arrangements, and the eca/ University Accreditation Committee monitors the overall operation of the MoA. CQAEC is content that eca‟s institutional QAE report on 2006-07 demonstrates that eca has robust systems in place to review the form and quality of teaching and learning across the institution. In its third report (June 2007), the Accreditation Committee concluded that the two institutions are operating within the MoA, and that the terms of the MoA remain broadly appropriate. During 2007-08, the Accreditation Committee has identified some aspects of the MoA that it would like to revise, particularly in relation to the process for appointing external examiners, the nature and level of scrutiny of proposed new programmes and changes to existing programmes, annual QA procedures and reporting arrangements, and the membership of eca Validation Panels. The Accreditation Committee is keen that the MoA should clarify that eca‟s annual QA procedures should be appropriate to the nature of eca‟s provision and aligned with Quality Assurance Agency requirements, but not necessarily the same as Edinburgh‟s own QA procedures. The main issue here is that the University requires annual monitoring to be undertaken at course (ie module) level, whereas many of eca‟s programmes are designed at programme level rather than having a modular structure The institutions will be seeking formal approval for the proposed changes to the MoA during 2007-08. The College receives copies of external examiner reports for eca‟s undergraduate and postgraduate provision. Since eca‟s external examiner reports are subject to scrutiny in eca by the Academic Registrar as well as the Head of School / Department, CHSS would not routinely raise issues regarding eca external examiner reports, though it has the option to do so where appropriate. The Associate Dean (QAE) has reviewed the eca external examiner reports for 200607 for UG and PGT programmes (except the MDEs programmes, for which the 2006-07 reports are not yet available), and he is assured that the external examiners do not raise any matters of concern and that eca‟s procedures and proposed actions in response to the reports are appropriate.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Appendices Remit and Membership of the Committee Review of School Quality Assurance and Enhancement reports Review of Office of Lifelong Learning Quality Assurance and Enhancement report Appendix 4 Review of Edinburgh College of Art (eca) institutional QAE report Appendix 5 Associate Dean (QAE) report on Undergraduate External Examiners‟ Reports on 2006-07 Appendix 6 College Postgraduate Office report on Postgraduate Taught External Examiners Reports on 2005-06 Appendix 7 CHSS Learning and Teaching Strategy Appendix 8 Formal response to Classics Teaching Programme Review Appendix 9 Formal response to Economics Teaching Programme Review Appendix 10 Formal response to History of Art Teaching Programme Review Appendix 11 Formal response to Philosophy Teaching Programme Review Appendix 1 Appendix 2 Appendix 3
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Appendix 1 Remit and Membership of College Quality Assurance and Enhancement Committee Convener Secretary CHSS Associate Dean (QAE) Head of College Academic Office
Membership 10 School QA Directors; representative from the Office of Lifelong Learning; representative from eca; representative from College of Science and Engineering; ex officio Dean (PG); ex officio Dean of UG studies, ex officio Associate Dean(UG); ex officio Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching Innovation); Deputy College Registrar; 2 student representatives Remit
to oversee the implementation across the College of the University's strategy for quality assurance of teaching, including procedures to ensure that: a. all award-bearing courses and programmes have in place staff-student liaison committees which meet regularly and report action taken in response to issues addressed. b. all award-bearing courses and programmes of study are subject to periodic monitoring and review in accordance with College and University requirements. c. arrangements for external examining are securely in place, and appropriate action is promptly taken where necessary to address issues raised in external examiners' reports. to receive reports from the School QA&E Committees and to act as a College Quality Audit Committee to take a proactive role in promoting Quality Enhancement and to monitor changes and innovation in Teaching and Learning within the College.
Alan Ducklin; (Convener); Tom Ward (Secretary); Dr Martin Current membership: Hammer (ACE); Dr Mike Purcell (Divinity); Brian Martin (Education); Dr David Gillanders (Health); Dr James Fraser and Trevor Griffiths (HC&A); Dr Catriona Carter (Law); Dr Bill Webster (LLC); Dr Tina Harrison (MSE); Dr Peter Ackema (PPLS); Dr Luke March (SPS); Irene Bruce (eca); Graham Venters (OLL); Anne Clark (student rep); Elle Clark (student rep); Dr Andrew Coulson (CSE); Professor Jake Ansell; Professor Chris Clark; Janet Rennie; Stephen Tierney
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Appendix 2: Review of School QAE Reports School: Arts, Culture and Environment Checklist All elements of the checklist are ticked positively. Whilst Archaeology was within ACE in 2006-07, the operation of its QAE procedures has been covered within the History, Classics and Archaeology report in order to assist the integration of the subject area into the School. The School has provided a formal response to the History of Art Teaching Programme Review. Good Practice Report indicates that the School has addressed some of the recommendations that CQAEC made in relation to the previous School QAE report, and further dialogue has confirmed that action has been taken on additional issues. The care which is taken to ensure that student feedback is obtained, and the way in which such feedback from students is acted upon. Establishment of a Postgraduate Staff-Student Liaison Committee covering History of Art. The introduction of systematic reporting on postgraduate courses and programmes. The extension of the use of moderation, rather than double-marking, in History of Art. Plans to enhance induction processes for students. Enhanced feedback on exams and project work in History of Art. The formal response to the History of Art Teaching Programme Review, which demonstrates a positive engagement with the recommendations. The coverage and presentation of statistics on course and programme outcomes is an improvement on the previous year, though not yet fully in line with CQAEC guidance.
Areas for further consideration Provide a rather more detailed report, with greater analysis of the outcomes of the QAE procedures and more systematic reporting on progress against CQAEC recommendations. Discuss further the possibilities for more integration within the School both pedagogical and in relation to QAE procedures. Report on the planned formulation of an ACE QAE Policy document, and develop and monitor an ACE QAE policy framework to support its implementation. Monitor impact of increasing PG numbers on the quality of the learning experience. Review the QAE implications of introducing a School Common Workload Model. Take further steps to encourage markers to use the full range of the Extended Common Marking Scheme, particularly in relation to pre-Honours courses in which in 2006-07 there was very limited use of the upper reaches of the A band.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Provide more complete set of statistics on course and programme outcomes in line with CQAEC guidance, and provide greater evidence of reflection on patterns and trends in this data. Tabular statistics and bar charts can be useful for identifying trends and patterns but require numbers as well as percentages in order to enable interpretation and comparison. Assess the added value of introducing autonomous learning groups in History of Art. Report on the outcome of the School‟s discussions regarding Personal Development Planning. Continue to look at ways to enhance uptake of Peer Observation in Teaching across all areas of the School. Continue to work with eca to put appropriate QAE procedures in place for the planned joint eca / University of Edinburgh Architecture degrees. Provide additional information regarding the ways that the School is engaging systematically with the College Learning and Teaching Strategy.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 School: Divinity Checklist The School achieved a 100% return rate for completed Course Monitoring Forms for undergraduate courses, and a high return rate for postgraduate courses. The report provides a detailed analysis of the reasons for difficulties in obtaining completed CMFs for some courses, and recommends ways to address these issues. All other elements of the checklist are ticked positively. Good Practice The report demonstrates that in general the School‟s QAE procedures are operating well. Extensive use of e-learning tools, in sensible ways designed to enhance the learning experience. The use of pro-forma marking sheets assists in ensuring consistent marking practice. The appointment of a „Dissertation Manager‟ to help ensure that the dissertation writing process for Honours students is well-supported for students and smooth for both students and staff. There are strong links between research and teaching, especially at postgraduate level.
Areas for further consideration Continue to encourage staff to participate in Peer Observation of Teaching, for example by front loading it relatively early in the academic year. Consider implementing the proposals in the report as appropriate in order to seek to achieve a full return of CMFs for postgraduate courses. Provide further information regarding the mechanisms for engaging students in the QAE processes and for providing feedback to students on the outcomes of QAE processes, such as the results of liaison committee meetings. Provide a more complete set of statistics and provide greater reflection on the patterns and trends of course and programme outcomes. In doing so, reflect on the reasons for relatively high proportions of students in the lower pass bands for some first year courses (Christian Theology 1, Christian Ethics 1). Report on progress in relation to plans to introduce programme monitoring at PGT level, which should accompany rather than supplant monitoring at course level.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 School: Education Checklist Not all undergraduate and postgraduate courses supplied a Course Monitoring Form, though there was a considerable improvement on previous years and the School has provided an explanation for the missing forms and indicated that it is taking steps to ensure full compliance in 2007-08. All other elements of the checklist are ticked positively. Good Practice Having conducted a Quality Audit in the summer of 2007 with a view to taking a more strategic approach to QAE, and plans to follow this up with a stage two report in spring 2008. Implementing simplified QAE practices for UG courses and programmes, plans to take a more systematic approach to QAE for postgraduate programmes and courses, and continued efforts to close the QAE reporting cycle. Proactive approaches to gathering student feedback, including holding „open fora‟ at the end of courses and recognising the need to develop alternative ways of involving part-time and e-learning students as student representatives in the QAE processes. Moves to achieve greater consistency in the word length among honours assignments. Adoption of innovative teaching methods and willingness to adapt and evolve teaching methods.
Areas for further consideration Clarify the role of the School QAE Director in relation to School Committees, and associated governance questions. Report on the impact of new QAE arrangements at PG level. Continue to seek ways to enhance feedback on marking and assessment, both at undergraduate and postgraduate level, seeking to build on the reported good practice in certain areas. Build on the positive scoping work by completing a Teachability review during 2008-09. Clarify and evaluate aspects of the new approach to peer observation of teaching which involves a formal system of annual peer observation of teaching for all early-career University teachers and bi-annual observation for all other staff. In particular, clarify the meaning of „early-career‟ teachers, and evaluate whether the new approach leads to an increase in participation rates. Ensure that the taught elements of the Doctorate in Education comply with University QAE requirements. Reflect on the distribution of degree classes across different degree programmes in the context of the implementation of the mean mark system for classifying Honours degrees. Raise staff awareness of procedures for the detection and referral of plagiarism cases.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Review the distribution of award of Distinction across PG programmes in order to ensure that there is consistency or practice. Report on how the School is engaging with the College Learning and Teaching Strategy.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 School: Health in Social Science Checklist The checklist indicates that most requirements have been met, with the exception of the range of statistics, where figures for postgraduate programmes in Counselling Studies were incomplete and trend data for pre-Honours courses was absent. The School achieved a 100% return rate for Course Monitoring forms. Good Practice A succinct and well-focused report that communicates a full commitment to the QAE process and progress towards a School-based approach to QAE processes in the commendable quest for economies of scale and consistency. The development of e-learning and the identification of areas where this can be seen to have had a direct impact on the quality of student performance. The introduction by Counselling Studies of changes to enhance Teaching/Research linkages. In Clinical and Health Psychology, the development of research supervision contracts to address problems identified in the presentation of theses. The use of Strategic Away Days in Health and Clinical Psychology, and Counselling Studies. The flexible and varied approach to gathering feedback in Counselling Studies. The close and co-operative relationship the School‟s Subject Areas have developed with their respective professional accreditation agencies.
Areas for further consideration Report on actions to address variable levels of student feedback. Report on the advantages or otherwise of adopting School-level approaches to aspects of QAE, in particular the plans for a School Staff-Student Liaison Committee. Provide a more complete set of statistics on student outcomes and provide greater reflection on statistics, including comparison of trends across courses. Consider ways to further developing the feedback loop in order that students are aware of the outcomes of course and programme monitoring, taking into account the part-time nature of the student cohort on some of the School‟s programmes.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 School: History, Classics and Archaeology Checklist The School has achieved an almost complete return of CMFs, and has successfully reduced the already small proportion of missing forms compared to the previous year. The School has provided almost all the required statistics in the appropriate form of presentation, which represents substantial progress on the previous year. The School has formally responded to the 2006 Classics Teaching Programme Review. Whilst Archaeology was within ACE in 2006-07, the operation of its QAE procedures has been covered within the History, Classics and Archaeology report in order to assist the integration of the subject area into the School. Good Practice The report is admirably detailed and rigorous, and the evidence reviewed suggests that QA procedures in the school are effective, and fairly comprehensive in their application. Activities to keep students informed of the efficacy of their feedback, and the procedures employed to procure it. The more systematic QAE culture that is being introduced into PGT programmes in the School. The rigorous approach to encouraging markers to apply the Extended Common Marking Scheme for example through clarifying the descriptors for the three firstclass bands. The increasingly School-wide introduction of moderation as an alternative to double-marking. The careful attention paid to Teachability, which the School will be building on with additional work during 2008. The positive and thoughtful approach taken to the inclusion of Archaeology within the School. The increasing exploitation of WebCT as a teaching tool. The introduction of feedback on third year exams by Economic and Social History.
Areas for further consideration Consider further standardising the process of CMF submission, so that experiences from the previous session can feed into teaching in the current year. In particular, ensure that the timing of the Archaeology review team meeting is aligned with the schedule for the submission of CMFs. Further scrutiny of the contrasting levels of student performance in pre-honours courses across the School. Ensure a consistent approach to preserving anonymity of students in the examination process. Consider undertaking Away Days in areas other than Classics to assist in applying marking practices in line with the ECMS.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Reconsider the issue of overlap between essay and exam questions in History, for example by requiring Course Organisers to submit both examination and essay questions to a review board at the start of the semester. Seek a more systematic approach to Peer Review of Teaching across all areas. Report on how the School is engaging systematically with the College Learning and Teaching Strategy.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 School: Law Checklist The School obtained completed Course Monitoring Forms for all but a very small proportion of courses, for which it provided an explanation. All other aspects of the checklist are ticked positively. Good Practice Robust, systematic and rigorous QAE procedures in place and operating effectively, with engagement from the whole School. Progress in relation to most of the recommendations that CQAEC made in 200607. The School‟s engagement of students in QAE activities through student representatives as full members of the School‟s QAE Group, the Law Students‟ Council, and course and programme level staff-student liaison. The continued use of course audit files and continuity forms. The introduction of Peer Observation of Teaching on a voluntary basis. The project to track student progression and to examine the relationship between entrance qualifications and student performance on a year by year basis.
Areas for further consideration Agree how to ensure that the University‟s normal QAE expectations, including monitoring at course level, operate for the Diploma in Legal Practice, whilst taking into account the non-standard features of this programme. Reflect on the changing patterns of awards of first and third class degrees for the School‟s programmes. Clarify student expectations regarding feedback on assessment and consider further responses to College guidance in the context of this additional information. Report on progress on the project to track student progression. School QAE report to attach timescales to its forward plans and recommendations. Provide additional evidence of active and systematic School engagement with the College Learning and Teaching Strategy.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures Checklist The School obtained a high proportion (roughly 90%) of completed Course Monitoring Forms for level 8 and 11 courses, a higher proportion than in previous years. The School is taking steps to put in place more systematic arrangements for monitoring Honours courses. All other aspects of the checklist are ticked positively. Good Practice Favourable student feedback on the new dissertation arrangements in English Literature. Willingness to address the issue of feedback to students on assessment, in the light of the National Student Survey findings, for example by explaining to students why feedback takes time, and giving provisional feedback where assignments results have not been confirmed. Positive e-learning developments - DELC‟s initiative on developing online language exercises, and the appointment of E-learning project officer by the Islamic & Middle-Eastern Studies. Recognition in External Examiners reports of the „quality of care‟ demonstrated in the marking & administration of examinations, though External Examiners also raised concerns regarding the administration of examinations in one area. Progress in obtaining completed CMFs at levels 8 and 11 and plans for more systematic and formalised course monitoring arrangements for Honours courses. The School‟s initial steps to raise awareness and stimulate discussion regarding the College Learning and Teaching Strategy among colleagues.
Areas for further consideration Report on progress in implementing new arrangements for course monitoring of all Honours courses at subject area level, and evaluate the effectiveness of these new processes in assuring the quality of the provision. Disseminate the good practice on essay feedback in English Literature across the School to other subject areas. Complete School Teachability review by the end of 2007-08. Provide further comment on statistics with respect to course outcomes, particularly with reference to the implementation of the Extended Common Marking Scheme. Report on progress in establishing plans in relation to the College L&T Strategy, and consider more proactive means to implement the strategy. Explore possible approaches to Peer Observation of Teaching which could facilitate reflection on teaching in small subject areas without connotations of appraisal. Indicate actions taken in the light of previous TPRs (e.g. implementation of the recommendations of the 2005-06 English Literature TPR).
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 School: Management School and Economics Checklist Course Monitoring Forms were completed and returned for virtually 100% of courses, and the School provided an explanation for the three missing forms. The School has provided a formal response to the Economics Teaching Programme Review. Good Practice The report provides assurance that the School‟s QAE procedures are robust and effective. A complete and user-friendly range of statistics on course and programme outcomes, and substantial evidence of reflection on and response to this data. The planned introduction of poster sessions on Business Studies 1 building on the success of poster sessions used in Economics. Plans to enhance the effectiveness of specific level 8 and 11 courses in response to student achievement rates and feedback. Plans to introduce a degree programme questionnaire for all graduating postgraduate students. Use of an (electronic) Issues Management System to deal with „hygiene issues‟ in the MBA. A robust system of student representation on committees at all levels within the School in Economics. The use of Graduate Teaching Assistants (usually PhD students) in Economics and Business Studies The extensive use of WebCT, including making WebCT materials available 48 hours before the lecture they relate to, and the use of WebCT for online tests in some areas. The development of plagiarism training for students on several programmes. The creation of a new Help Desk for MSc Economics students (following on the success of a Help Desk in undergraduate Economics)
Areas for further consideration Reflect on the reasons for poor feedback levels on new core third -year Econometrics courses. Monitor the operation of Graduate Teaching Assistants in Economics and Business Studies, and ensure that the students have appropriate training and support. Report on the outcomes of further consideration regarding ways to address relatively high failure rates in the Industrial Management course.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 School: Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences Checklist All elements of the checklist are ticked positively. The report is clear and straightforward, is structured according to College guidance and contains reports on all the relevant sections, and confirms that appropriate QAE procedures have occurred across the school. The School has formally responded to the March 2007 Teaching Programme Review of Philosophy. Good Practice The positive response to the Philosophy Teaching Programme Review, including formulating a strategy and process for curriculum reform, and the devotion of more time for staff meetings to assist in managing the large scale changes involved. The use of electronic resources, particularly in administration and management of course materials. The development of a Personal Development Portfolio for first year Psychology students. The wide implementation of Peer Observation of Teaching. Particularly positive comments of Psychology External Examiners regarding the relationship between assessment practices and programme aims and learning objectives. Linguistics and English Language‟s consideration of the timing of student evaluations of courses and the provision of class time for this, and the consideration of possible ways to close the feedback loop.
Areas for further consideration Consider the QAE implications of the planned changes to the Philosophy curriculum, and identify how they will evaluate and report on whether the curriculum reforms have been a success. Report on the outcome of Psychology‟s review of the reasons for low attendances at pre-Honours Psychology lectures at the end of the semester for both first and second year courses Provide further information regarding the aims and methods of the introduction of Personal Development Portfolios in Psychology, and evaluate the impact of this development. Provide more detail regarding the School‟s implementation of the College Learning and Teaching Strategy.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 School: School of Social and Political Studies Checklist All elements of the checklist are ticked positively. Good Practice A very comprehensive report, which demonstrates considerable background consultation, the careful collation of statistical information, and clear engagement with the recommendations that CQAEC made in 2006-07. Positive student feedback on the quality of teaching and the diversity of teaching methods employed in courses across School. Student feedback is particularly positive in relation to level 10 and PGT courses. The introduction of a „light-touch‟ approach to Peer Observation of Teaching. The deployment of School staff into focus groups to address learning and teaching issues, which can maximise the teaching and research capacity of the School by minimising unnecessary multiplication of full Committee meetings. The expanded use of WebCT, including the introduction of pod-casting for first year lectures on a pilot basis. A structured approach to obtaining feedback from students as part of the QAE process. Imaginative and innovative teaching and assessment methods for Level 10 courses. Introduction of a dedicated session on „Working at Honours level‟.
Areas for further consideration Further consideration may be given to the devolvement and routing of decisionmaking within School, without compromise to the principle of collegiality. Continue with the „light touch‟ approach to Peer Observation of Teaching, and review its impact in the context of varied participation rates across the School. Continue to consider ways in which level 8 courses which provide a platform for level 10 study can be made more accessible and enjoyable for students. Give ongoing consideration to the balance between independent and supported learning in the context of the increasing use of WebCT, and review the impact of the use of pod-casts in particular. Give further consideration to the educational value that is added to tutorial attendance, participation, and input, perhaps in terms of assessment enhancements rather than assessment penalties. Seek further progress in standardising QAE procedures for PGT courses and programmes.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Appendix 3: Review of Office of Lifelong Learning QAE report Checklist OLL did not operate Course Monitoring Forms and course questionnaires for all Continuing Personal Education courses in 2006-07, though it has now put in place arrangements for this. Good Practice Clear engagement with the recommendations that CQAEC made in 2006-07. Extensive work to develop and implement new QAE procedures for gathering feedback from students, tutors and external examiners for CPE courses in line with recommendations made by CQAEC in its review of 2005-06, yet tailored to „fit‟ with specific OLL teaching and learning objectives and practices. This includes the introduction of Course Monitoring Forms (CMFs) and the annual use of online student questionnaires for all courses. The introduction of the „tutor response form‟ for the Open Studies summer programme. The improvement of procedures for student involvement in QAE activities. The tracking of the progress of students on the Credit for Entry programme. Production of a positive Teachability report.
Areas for further consideration When continuing to design mechanisms for enhancing student feedback on courses to focus as much on improving the structures for dialogue with students as on the gathering of information through surveys, though accepting the difficulties in achieving this due to the nature of OLL‟s student body. Reflect on the reasons why completion rates of the second written assessment are lower than those for the first, drawing on feedback through dialogue with students. Review the effectiveness of the introduction of online student questionnaires, and report on response rates to inform on-going discussions within the College on the effectiveness or otherwise of on-line student feedback; In next year‟s report, provide additional reflection on the issues raised through the enhanced QAE procedures. Consider introducing a Forward Look section to the report. Put in place dialogue between OLL and the Institute of Applied Language Studies regarding future QAE procedures in the light of the planned structural changes. Continue to reflect on opportunities for Peer Observation of Teaching, so that part-time tutors have opportunities for staff development.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Appendix 4: Review of Institutional QAE report for Edinburgh College of Art (eca) Summary It seems evident from this report, as was the case in 2005-06, that eca has robust systems in place to review the form and quality of teaching and learning across the institution. In addition the various annual and periodic reviews which are undertaken internally are followed through and reported upon within the report. During 2007-08, eca and CHSS will determine the format and schedule of the next cycle of eca Internal Reviews of Academic Provision, and clarify the associated arrangements for Annual Programme Monitoring Review. Good Practice Clearly signposted report Clear focus on fostering of staff development opportunities Effective operation of the Annual Programme Monitoring Review process, which has a strong focus on Quality Enhancement as well as Quality Assurance, and which offers staff development benefits through „Critical Friend‟ approach. Significant progress in relation to a variety of institutional QE initiatives, including good progress in developing and implementing a new Code of Assessment. The use of staff away-days and workshops in the area of Architecture, to assist in the development of plans for the Architectural Alignment project. Continued priority given to the induction of External Examiners and staff development regarding the appropriate role of External Examiners. Thoroughness of eca‟s review of External Examiners‟ reports. Reviewing the underlying causes of plagiarism cases, and putting dedicated support in place to address factors related to cultural and linguistic difference.
Areas for further consideration Continue to work with CHSS to put appropriate QAE procedures in place for the planned joint eca / University of Edinburgh Architecture degrees. Consider rolling out the good practice whereby student representatives in the Schools of Design and Applied Art and Visual Communications play a key role in managing student feedback, and review approaches to student feedback questionnaires. Consider ways to make the statistical appendices more easily understood by a reviewer (for example, the significance of the patterns of progression), while recognising that the nature of statistical analysis and reflection should be appropriate for an institutional report. Report on the implementation of the new eca Code of Assessment.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Appendix 5: Associate Dean (QAE) report on Undergraduate External Examiners’ Reports on 2006-07 1. Introduction This report has been compiled by the Associate Dean (QAE) in CHSS and provides an overview of the comments that undergraduate External Examiners made in their reports on 2006-07. It seeks to identify areas noted for good practice that can be disseminated widely and to highlight areas which may warrant attention at College or University level. The Associate Dean (QAE) will also provide a separate report to each Head of School regarding the comments of their External Examiners. 2. Overall assessment of degree quality and standards External Examiners are asked to comment upon the courses and degrees at Edinburgh in terms of their comparability of quality and standards with comparable Higher Education Institutions across the United Kingdom. All external examiners confirm in their reports that the quality and standards of provision are appropriate. Whilst not all Externals provide detailed comment in this area those that do provide useful testimony to the high standards applied in the College, which in many cases are higher than comparable institutions in the UK or abroad. The following are examples of the positive comments that external examiners have made regarding quality and standards: “The standards on this course are above those that I have had recent experience of at other Institutions in Scotland and England”. (ED3) “The Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Edinburgh is continuing to build its reputation as a major academic unit with international credentials and is among the best on offer in the UK”. (SPS12) “A good mix of social, biological and medical science but also academically challenging, leading to the unique outcome, which is the Edinburgh graduate”. (HSS2) “All programmes achieve a high standard in terms of quality compared with Aberdeen, Dundee, Strathclyde, Queens Belfast and York”. (OLL2) “When comparing to other institutions where I have acted as external examiner, Edinburgh is by far the best”. (LAW 9) “The academic standards in the Linguistics programme at Edinburgh are exceptionally high…graduates rank among the best in the discipline worldwide,” (PPLS10) “The quality and standards of provision was certainly comparable to that of other institutions, including Cambridge where I teach and Oxford where I have often examined”. (LLC11)
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 “History of Art at Edinburgh has a long-established reputation for excellence”. (ACE7) “High quality course, taught and assessed to a high standard”. (HCA9) “This is a very impressive degree programme …” (PPLS6) “The aims of the courses, their structures and content in relation to these aims, and degree structure and teaching methods are all of appropriate quality and on par (perhaps slightly above average) to comparable institutions where I have had experience of this (on par with Oxford and Durham, better than Birmingham)”. (D3) A large number of external examiners also comment very favourably on the high standards of students‟ work: “High standard achieved by students. I would relate this primarily to the effort devoted by staff to this aspect of their duties”. (MSE7) “The best students‟ work is as good as any I have seen in two hemispheres and four continents…”. (LLC 17) “… the quality of student work here is at the very top range”. (HCA11) “The best year graduates from Psychology produce superb work… students are not afraid to tackle challenging material …” (PPLS2) “This is my final year… once again I have been impressed by the overall quality of the students‟ material and by the range of topics they have been able to answer on”. (HCA12) Some students work is “of publishable quality”. (PPLS7) “There are some very capable candidates doing meaningful work.” (MSE5) “I had the privilege of reading two outstanding dissertations…” (LLC4) “I have current or recent knowledge of standards at four other UK institutions and one US institution. The work produced by students at Edinburgh is at least as good as the work at all the other institutions”. (LLC16) “The standard of candidates compares well with those from my own institution, Oxford…” (HCA10) 3. General comments on the characteristics of the curriculum A large number of External Examiners comment positively on how the provision is assisting students to develop their skills and attributes:
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 “…the course is well structured, and students are effectively encouraged to develop their critical thinking, communication and other transferable skills.” (HSS3) “In addition to being prepared for academic research, students are also provided with a range of transferable skills which will help them in many other professions.” (LLC10) “… the legal methods course required Edinburgh students to display more critical awareness than many equivalent courses elsewhere”. (LAW 7) “The Scottish system is well served by these high-calibre students who are, in turn, well served by the quality of the Edinburgh courses”. (ED32) “Students leave Edinburgh with a series of skills that they probably do not yet fully appreciate. The ability to think critically, conduct penetrating analysis, construct complex yet coherent arguments, and express their ideas with flair and sophistication”. (LLC5) “You are to be congratulated on the achievements of the students, as usual. They display a high degree of knowledge but are generally able to construct essays well, use source material well, and manipulate arguments well.” (LAW5) Other external examiners comment favourably on other aspects of the curriculum and the learning experience: “Partnerships with schools remain very strong and The Moray House School of Education continues to maintain an excellent reputation within the field”. (ED33) “As a means of connecting the University with its local community, these courses are excellent”. (OLL2) “Creative Writing in particular had excellent feedback, encouraging, critical and informative”. (OLL2) “… excellent Religious Studies degree with a good range of relevant courses. Good content and signs of outstanding teaching”. (D3) “The students are clearly receiving high quality teaching and guidance on how to structure their work, and also very helpful, targeted feedback. In work I have seen, students have sometimes been able to overcome a rather mediocre or flawed initial essay and turn in excellent second essays and/or exam performance.” (LAW5) “European History offers a wonderfully diverse menu of courses that are clearly taught by an exceptionally able body of inspirational teachers”. (HCA4)
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 4. Assessment Procedures and Practices 4.1 Range of Forms of Assessment Many external examiners praise the balance of forms of assessment operating within programmes, and the alignment of assessment with learning outcomes. Some examples of positive comments are: “Across the whole degree there is an interesting mix of assessment.” (HSS2, MSE5) “There was a good mixture of theoretical work and reflection on practice. (ED28, 29) “Overall, the University can be satisfied that members of the School use the widest range of assessment methods, but always with a view to the specific learning outcomes of each course.” (HCA17) “…the overall mix of assessments seems fine now. In the past I have been concerned about over assessment.” (HCA16) “This variety of assessment modes is greater than comparable institutions where I have acted as external examiner for the equivalent degrees…” (D1) “I found the type of assessment and examination as well as the formative and summative assessments contribute towards the overall/final mark to be appropriate; a lot of thought has gone into achieving a good balance between various components of assessment so as to give a realistic picture of a student‟s learning extent and experience.” (MSE4) “In addition to analytical essays and other kinds of written tasks, interviewing techniques and other aspects of field work were included.” (LLC10) “Seminar performance is particularly well described on feedback sheets and the practice of awarding both very high and very low marks to indicate differential effort put in by students means that this element can have a real impact on the final mark for the course,” (SPS8) “Variety of assessment modes greater than at Birmingham, Oxford and Durham”. (D1) Much assessment “tests the whole range of skills a student needs”. (LAW11) However, some external examiners suggest that there are opportunities for subject areas to enhance their programmes by widening the range of assessments further. “As I noted last year the department appears to use only the long essay or essay-exam assessment method. I still think it might like to consider other types of assessment…” (PPLS4, HCA1, MSE8)
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 “I would invite colleagues to consider other means of assessing students…more document work.” (HCA4) “…it might be useful to see a slightly greater range of types of assessment…” (ACE12) “I have consistently argued that the School should increase the proportion of overall marks allocated to coursework…‟ (LAW10) 4.2 Marking Criteria The vast majority of external examiners confirm that marking criteria were clear, appropriate and consistently applied. Many external examiners comment positively regarding the clarity of marking descriptors and the fairness and consistency with which markers applied them, with some external examiners giving particular praise for the documentation to support marking practices: “Assessment criteria were clear and were applied consistently by markers.” (HSS1, PPLS2) “Throughout, the marking criteria…were applied in a manner consistent to the aims of the respective courses.” (D1) “I continue to be impressed by the fairness and consistency of the departments marking.” (HCA17) “Clear course outcomes and clear assessment criteria – that are well publicised in course documentation – were crucial starting points.” (ED32) “Particularly noteworthy was the detailed information provided to examiners about assessment criteria and how they were to be applied in relation to specific questions and the information provided about the marking and moderation processes to achieve consistency amongst individual examiners.” (SPS3) However, in some cases external examiners raised concerns regarding the clarity of descriptors and the adequacy of supporting documentation. In these cases, the subject areas should review their documentation on these matters. One external examiner questioned the appropriateness of setting marking criteria at all. “It would be helpful for the External to have some guidance notes on the criteria for marking the dissertations…” (ACE6) “…there were some instances where exam answers did not have marking schemes…” (MSE7) “…not all of the information [received] contained marking criteria.” (PPLS4) “Marking criteria were not entirely clear to me in every case.” (PPLS10)
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 “I would recommend more detailed grade descriptors to help both internal and external markers ensure consistency in grading across courses.” (HCA6) “I am afraid that I remain sceptical about the value of explicitly set out “marking criteria”…and would certainly have ignored any such criteria that were sent to me.” (PPLS7) 4.3 Extended Common Marking Scheme (ECMS) The vast majority of external examiners do not comment directly on the appropriateness of the Scheme. Of those that do comment, some are supportive of the Scheme but more frequently they are critical of aspects of the Scheme, particularly the nonlinearity of the scale. Comments on the implications of the ECMS for degree classification are covered in section 4.11 below. “The Extended Common Marking Scheme continues to provide the benefits at A/B and D/E boundaries that I noted last year.” (PPLS1) “The recently introduced Extended Common Marking Scheme and the relevant descriptors and marking bands were all very clearly laid out and were, in my view, appropriate to the assessment aims.” (LLC15) “I am still worried about the design of the scale and, in particular, its nonlinearity.” (PPLS11, PPLS9, HCA4, HCA1, ACE2, 12) A large number of external examiners comment on the extent to which the scheme is being implemented. Their comments suggest that in many areas of the College the Scheme is not yet being fully implemented, with external examiners commenting on the reluctance of markers to use the upper parts of the A scale, and to a lesser extent the lower range of the scale: “In last year‟s report I observed that the extended common marking scheme was implemented consistently and faithfully…” (PPLS11) “I note also the use of the extended range of marks. This is welcome, but since aggregate marks are so significant it is important that the lower end of the marking range is also fully utilised…” (LAW2) “I commend the introduction of three ranges of marks in the First category…in my view there are still problems with marks at the very low end of the range…further consideration should be given to the guidelines…towards the lower end of the scale.”(HCA16) “…a reluctance to use the full range of marks available, especially in the region from 80 upward.” (PPLS6, 7, 9, HCA3, HCA4, HCA7, LLC12, 13, SPS3, ED25) “I certainly found evidence that markers were trying to use the top end of the 0-100% scale, although the majority of first class marks remained in the lower half of the 70% bracket.: (SPS1)
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“There is still, I think, more willingness to apply the ECMS to certain parts of the degree…” (HCA5) 4.4 Double Marking/Moderation Some external examiners are supportive of the practice of double marking where it operates, and one external examiner argues that it should be introduced where it does not currently operate: “…I do have some reservations in relation to the robustness of the quality assurance mechanisms in relation to assessment, specifically, the practice of single marking work that contributes to a student‟s honours degree classification…It is my view…that all…should be independently marked by two internal markers,” (HSS1) “All scripts came double marked, with helpful comments, and the internal marks were normally agreed. The standards of marking are admirable…” (PPLS8) “…The custom of „double-blind‟ marking ensures that the possibility of error or of misjudgement is kept to an absolute minimum.” (LLC23) “I do, however, have concerns about the term essay being single-marked, by the course tutor.” (LLC15) “Less exemplary; transparency of double marking: there needs to be consistency throughout, if possible.” (D1) However, double marking is not an efficient way to manage the marking process, and the University does not require subject areas to double mark most work (though it may be desirable for dissertations), as long as some appropriate form of moderation is in place. Some external examiners argue that subject areas should move away from the practice of double marking: “...the department might want to consider monitoring modules rather than second marking…” (PPLS 4) “…abandon the practice of double blind marking…” (PPLS 5) “I believe the University may have to reconsider its procedures (specifically double blind marking)…” (MSE6) Several external examiners indicate that they were not clear what approach the subject area had taken to moderation: “I would also welcome clearer indications of whether work has been doublemarked, as in some cases this was not evident.” (PPLS10, ACE2, 5) “I would have liked to have received…more on some of the marking procedures within the School…which courses are single marked” (D1)
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 One external examiner makes some useful suggestions regarding the specific form that moderation should take: “I think in future some internal moderation might be practised at an earlier stage, and that there might be subsequent mentoring for less experienced markers.” (LLC 16) 4.5 Plagiarism Some external examiners suggest that the University reviews aspects of its approach to plagiarism, though some of the recommended developments are already in place: “Plagiarism continues to be a difficulty but this risk must be weighed against the opportunity that coursework provides for getting feedback during the course as well as „getting stuck in‟ to a particular issue which can make all the difference for students‟ motivation and confidence.” (MSE7) “I am surprised by what I understand to be the University rules on plagiarism. Specifically, at all other institutions that I know of, as soon as a suspected case of plagiarism is discovered then all other pieces of assessed work (including unseen exams) are immediately checked for evidence of plagiarism. In many cases this action uncovers further evidence of plagiarism. I recommend that Edinburgh adopt this procedure.” (SPS1) “Following discussion of a plagiarism case at the Exam Board, it appears that staff have some difficulty with the University‟s plagiarism policy, which appears to permit a significant degree of plagiarism to little detriment to the student…I would recommend a review of plagiarism policy…” (SPS6) “Finally, the University should consider investing in anti plagiarism software such as Turnitin…” (ED3, 2, 25) “Attention has continued to be given to issues identified in the area of plagiarism.” (HSS3) “Procedures for dealing with plagiarism were highlighted by some examiners as worthy of attention.” (ED34, 5) 4.6 Anonymity Some external examiners comment on the way that boards of examiners handled the anonymity of candidates. Whilst some external examiners commend the practices they had observed, others raise concern which the relevant examination boards will need to address: “The anonymous marking system was operated thoroughly and conscientiously and special circumstances were treated with fairness and sensitivity.” (LLC10)
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 “…anonymity at the Board re student identity is crucial to fair assessment procedures.” (LAW 1) “However, I must point out that not enough was done to protect the privacy of the candidates.” (HCA3) “A second more serious (because potentially long term) problem was the lack of anonymity at the Examination Board.” (HCA9) 4.7 Feedback to Students on Assessment The National Student Survey suggests that there are opportunities for the College to enhance aspects of feedback to students on assessment. In this context it is interesting to observe that where external examiners do comment on this matter their views are overwhelmingly positive regarding practices across Schools. This suggests that there are examples of good practice within the College. “Feedback to students is deemed to be constructive and helpful.” (HSS1) “I would draw attention to the excellent feedback students get on their group projects in SA2.” (SPS2) “Again, I found the feedback provided to students to be of a very high quality.” (PPLS11) “…the level of comments offered to students was generally good, in some cases very detailed.” (SPS7, ED3, 12, 14, 32, 33, 34) “The level of feedback is impressive, and all students receive full and frank feedback to their essays and presentations.” (ACE3) “The use of a standard feedback sheet, which corresponds to the assessment criteria identified in the handbook, also encourages consistency in the application of the criteria by different markers and is to be commended.” (ED10) “Some colleagues need to be encouraged to write more on the essays themselves.” (HCA9) 4.8 Year Abroad A substantial number of external examiners criticise the University‟s policy of not counting marks for non-compulsory study abroad towards degree classification, and other external examiners make some suggestions for improving other aspects of the management of study abroad. “It is however in my opinion entirely unacceptable that marks obtained during the year abroad are not reported or taken into account.” (LAW 3, 2, 1, 8, HCA5, MSE7, SPS1, 7, 14)
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 “The placement abroad is not assessed.” (LLC21) “Assessment of the year abroad is based on the Chinese university examinations for language plus two literary essays supervised by email from Edinburgh…some British universities set their own examinations, either to be sat in China or in the UK following their return. Edinburgh could consider this.” (LLC26, 5) “Some issues remain with the requirements for the third year abroad portfolios, particularly with regards to students obtaining copies of examined work for inclusion…review the requirements for the portfolio.” (LLC2, 3, 10, 19) “…the inadequate supervision of their Year Abroad work for their subject…” (LLC7) “Either the University agrees that students go abroad and treats the results in the same way…or it withdraws from all student exchanges…” (LAW3) 4.9. Special Circumstances Some external examiners commented positively on the appropriateness and effective operation of the special circumstances system: “The care given in the discussion of special circumstances and degree classifications at the Board of Examiners meeting was exemplary.” (D1) “The conduct of the Special Circumstances Board I attended was both clear and appropriate.” (ACE1) “The system whereby a pre-meeting reviews special circumstances and makes recommendations to the examiners‟ meeting seems to me to work well.” (PPLS8) Other external examiners raised concerns regarding the system and its operation: “There is a tendency for Board members who may not have seen the material to argue for outcomes when they are not necessarily fully appraised of the facts.” (LAW2) “…communications between departments were less than perfect.” (PPLS 7) “I remain unhappy about the University‟s system for Special Circumstances. As I commented last year, the lack of an August re-sit diet…means that there is no standard provision for the very standard circumstances of students missing exams for genuine…reasons.” (HCA16) “It would be helpful if the same identifiers for students…could be used in the MEL Special Circumstances Committee and in the Examination Boards.” (LLC7)
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“…there was some uncertainty about the status of special circumstances…I did not have full confidence that special circumstances had been fully taken into consideration in all cases.” (LLC8) “…but it was clear from attendance at one of the Joint Boards that the mechanisms for handling special circumstances were not always interpreted or implemented in different departments in the same way.” (LLC21) “I would recommend that the university consider the wording of its regulation to exclude special circumstances leading to a raising or a lowering of a mark.” (D1) 4.10 Overlap between components of assessment
Some external examiners have raised concerns regarding the overlap between different components of assessment, particularly the overlap between essay and examination questions. To avoid this issue, Schools should ensure that external examiners receive copies of all assessment tasks and examination papers together in order to enable them to take an overview of the questions as a whole. “The overlap between course work and examination work was a frequent feature in the scripts I examined…the problem was expressed also by my predecessor.” (HCA3) “I have previously made comments about the overlap between exam questions and assessed essay questions. However, most members of the department have not responded to this concern and have continued to use the same questions for exams and essays…In the interests of both equity and rigorous assessment, I think it is important that this practice is not continued.” (HCA7) “My more firm reservation is to do with repetition of material…students may write on the same text more than once…” (LLC16) “…coursework/essay questions be supplied to external examiners at the time they are asked to consider exam papers. This would help us identify any duplication of essay and exam questions.” (HCA6) 4.11 Final degree Classification 2006-07 was the first year in which degree classification was based on a mean mark. A minority of external examiners comment on this development. Some make positive comments, but a greater number raise concern that operating a system of classification by mean mark in conjunction with the ECMS could lead to an upward drift in first class degrees. One external examiner considers that the new system may reduce the proportion of first class degees. “I was impressed with the efficiency with which the Exam Board meetings were conducted. This may to some extent have been facilitated by the new
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 scheme for degree classification, which in my view is a clear improvement on the old one in terms of both ease and fairness.” (LLC14) “I do have some disquiet with regard to the extended common marking scheme, which does seem to me to be encouraging a slight upward drift in marks which could have a distorting effect on the number of students graduating with firsts.” (HCA17; LLC2) “I am also a little concerned that candidates who have one single very high mark may get an average of over 70…I am not sure this is right…” (LAW2, HCA5, SPS1) “…an unreasonably high number of first class and upper second degrees.” (ED5, 12, 15, 16) “…it does seem likely to make getting a first a little bit more difficult…” (PPLS4) “… some of European History stronger 2.1 candidates would be receiving First-Class degrees in other institutions”. (HCA4) “The new University system has not eradicated the element of arbitrariness and potential unfairness in any summary classification scheme…The sooner Universities move to the issuing of a profile only the better.” (PPLS16) “The areas where I remain unsatisfied are matters of University policy…” (HCA16, 15) “In my judgement the Examination Board must be given wider discretionary powers.” (D4) 5. Attendance at examination boards The University‟s Code of Practice for External Examiners requires that External Examiners attend at least one Board of Examiners meeting during each academic year to enable them to comment on the assessment process. External examiners‟ reports indicate that external examiners are generally meeting this requirement. However, it appears that in some areas of the College a significant minority are not doing so. Where the College is aware of this, it will bring it to the attention of the relevant Heads of Schools. 6. Induction of External Examiners Several new external examiners suggest that aspects of the induction arrangements could be improved. When Schools appoint new external examiners they should reflect on the induction arrangements that they put in place. “However, as a first-time External I would have appreciated a clearer indication of my remit – in particular the extent to which papers should be „sampled‟ and the sort of problems I should be looking for.” (HCA3)
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“The assessment process was not entirely clear to me and I needed to clarify this with the head of department on arrival in certain respects.” (MSE6) 7. Administrative Issues In general, external examiners‟ reports confirm that the administration of the external examiner process was effective. Where External Examiners offer specific comment in this area they are full of praise for the way in which the administrative processes were conducted as the following quote illustrates. “All procedures were handled with the utmost professionalism, and were far more efficient than in other institutions.” (SPS11) However, external examiners do raise some issues regarding aspects of the administrative process, as set out below. 7.1 Examination Timetable There are mixed views among external examiners regarding whether the examination timetable allowed sufficient time for marking, though the majority view is that the turnaround time is too tight. The University should take this into account in its review of the structure of the academic year, and Schools should reflect on whether they can take any steps to streamline their marking processes. “This year the whole examination process was back to normal…However the timetable seemed even tighter this year with some large courses being examined rather late.” (D2) “…the turn around time between receiving scripts, essays and dissertations and the exam board meetings is too tight.” (D3, D4, HCA4, LAW 7, LAW3, LAW2, LAW1, LAW8, PPLS8, HCA1, 5, 6, LLC2, 4, 6, 10, 19, ACE3, 12, SPS4, 13, ED27, 28) “As always, some of the marking deadlines were very tight, but significantly improved over previous years.” (LAW6) “The time available for marking was generally acceptable, although some work did have to be turned round very quickly.” (SPS1) “In particular, the time available for marking was in my view and experience, adequate.” (HCA3, 10, ED2, 3) 7.2 Information to External Examiners and students In general, external examiners are satisfied with the adequacy of information they received for the courses that they were responsible for. However in some cases, external examiners did not receive all the documentation they would have liked: “The information supplied was again pretty comprehensive…” (D2)
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“The documentation given by colleagues at Edinburgh to the students are exemplary in their explanation of aims, objectives and learning outcomes, and the process of assessment, whether on coursework or examination, is carefully described.” (HCA17) “I think it would be helpful to see all of the course handbooks annually.” (ED3) “I wonder whether it would be possible for serving Externals to receive paper copies of all the reports of the previous year.” (HCA3, LLC12) Some external examiners did however raise concerns regarding completeness of the scripts and mark-sheets that they were provided with, and the uncoordinated way in which they received them: “I have requested that, for those scripts which are sent to me, the mark for each answer is also provided to enable me to form an opinion of how the overall mark has been arrived at.” (MSE4) “…failure to provide question papers and properly completed mark sheets in some subjects.” (LAW6, ED31) “I think it would be helpful if the department could make slightly more data available to externals in the form of comments justifying marks…” (PPLS4) “It would be helpful if…sample course work is flagged up to the examiner, and that all course work is present.” (ACE3) “However, course work (exam scripts, essays, dissertations, design work) and mark lists were not complete, and kept coming in during the examination period.” (ACE3) “In one instance I received materials for a course on 25 January and was asked to report on them by the 26th January.” (SPS14) “The practice of sending all scripts and assessed essays to externals is ABSURD!” (HCA4) “I would suggest that the external examiner should have the opportunity to review some individual student samples in their entirety…particularly where students fall in the borderline or fail category.” (LLC9) “…helpful if internal markers agreed marks before they sent them to the external.” (PPLS5, SPS6) 7.3 Standard external examiner Report Form
A number of Externals commented either that they did not have access to an electronic version of the External Examiner Report Form or that it was not easy to
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 utilise. Schools are encouraged to direct external examiners to the form, which is located on the CHSS internet: www.hss.ed.ac.uk/AcademicAdmin/UnderAcadeAdmin/ExternalExaminers.htm 8. Useful Feedback from External Examiners “It would be useful, if time permitted, to compile a „marker profile‟ for each examiner, to be taken account of when the final assessment placed a candidate on a crucial borderline.” (HCA10) “The only slight query I have is with the status of exemptions. I have not come across this practice elsewhere and wonder if it is appropriate in an age of transcripts where all marks tend to count.” (LLC26) “The practice of convening a meeting where all lecturing staff on level 1 and the External examiner are present to discuss course issues is exemplary.” (SPS11) “I continue to think that a meeting with module leaders and markers ahead of the main meeting would be valuable…” (PPLS4, ED19) “I feel that the University mark system needs to distinguish between nonsubmission and…failure in submission…it seems improper that a candidate can, in effect, choose when to submit a piece for assessment.” (HCA16) “In order to try to reduce the number of borderline marks, internal markers should endeavour to award marks firmly in the class and use the 59-61 borderline exceptionally…” (SPS4) 9. Responses of Schools or College to issues previously raised by external examiners Where external examiners raise issues for which Schools are responsible, Schools should consider these matters or cover them in their formal responses to external examiners. For the most part, School responses to external examiners do suggest that they are responding appropriately. Similarly, where the comments are directed at the College or University, it is the practice of the Associate Dean (QAE) to write to the external examiner to explain the University‟s position in relation to the issue. One external examiner comments positively on the way that the University has responded to their comments: “I have raised a number of issues over the last few years… and these have always been responded to in a timely and constructive fashion”. (LAW2) However, in a small number of cases, external examiners express dissatisfaction regarding the way the University has responded to their comments. “I have had very little feedback to the reports I have written.” (MSE8)
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 “I don‟t think I received a formal response to my previous comments…” (LLC12) “This report contains references to a number of previous reports where a response does not appear to have been forthcoming,” (ED31) “As indicated earlier, some of my strong recommendations from last year‟s report have not been addressed.” (ED40) “A fuller response from the University [for 2005-06] to my concerns about the effects of the extended common marking scheme…would have been welcome.” (HCA17, HCA4)
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Appendix 6 College Postgraduate Office report on Postgraduate Taught External Examiners Reports on 2005-06
Summary This report is a review of the external examiners‟ Reports for taught postgraduate programmes in the College of Humanities and Social Science for the academic year 2005/6.1 The intention of this report is to highlight areas of best practice as well as issues of general concern across the College. There were 106 external examiners in the College for postgraduate taught courses, and we have obtained reports from the great majority of them. At least one report has been received for 91.5 per cent of the 130 programmes in which students were examined during the 2005/6 academic year. Twelve reports are still being chased by the College and Schools involved. External examiner‟s reports, when received at the Postgraduate Office, are scrutinised by the Dean. Schools are asked to write a letter of response to the examiner‟s report, paying particular attention to comments annotated by the Dean. Of the 94 external examiner reports that were received, apparently only 55 received responses from the appropriate PG/Programme Director, leaving 40 reports apparently without replies. Throughout the College, the external examiners‟ reports indicate that the level of teaching and learning opportunities are comparable to those at other institutions, and in some cases exceed them. Where criticisms were made, in most cases there was evidence that Schools were responding positively to feedback and that year on year, examiners were noticing improvements. General areas of concern to examiners will be addressed in the following sections; discussions will include specific criticisms and suggestions from the external examiner reports.
Overall Assessment of Degree Standards Throughout the College, the external examiners‟ reports indicate that the level of teaching and learning opportunities are comparable to those at other institutions, and in some cases exceed them. Some common themes that emerged where: Students‟ work reflected a high standard of teaching/tutorials The range of work submitted was appropriate The level of courses and methods of assessment were appropriate Marking standards were appropriate
Examiners are appointed to serve from 1 November to 31 October. For master‟s programmes the final board meeting of the cohort is usually in September or October, and examiners should complete their report soon thereafter. Thus, the reports for the academic year 2005/6 are those that were submitted in regard to the exam boards held in the spring and autumn of 2006.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 3 Marking was consistent across examiners Markers provided students with quality feedback
Assessment Procedures and Practices While the majority of feedback was positive, several issues of concern were raised, and these will be addressed in the following sections.
3.1 Use of the Postgraduate Common Marking Scheme The biggest issue of concern for external examiners was inconsistency in marking. Twenty-three examiners commented on an inconsistency in marking, 13 of which commented specifically on the usage of the full range of the marking scale. One examiner (ACE) was concerned that „on the surface, a badly spelled piece cannot achieve above grade „C‟, no matter how good it is in other respects‟. These comments indicate that in some areas more effort must be taken to explain the University‟s Postgraduate Common Marking Scheme, both to external examiners and to those marking postgraduate work. 3.2 Inconsistency Between Markers In addition to the above concerns, thirteen examiners were concerned about inconsistency between markers. Two suggested that providing markers with indicative answers would be helpful. Seven commented that specific assessment criteria were needed, with two more calling for more consistent and stringent penalties for dissertations that either exceed the word-limit or are significantly under length. Of particular concern for some interdisciplinary courses was the need to have clear guidelines to ensure that interdisciplinary work was marked fairly and consistently. 3.3 Anonymous Marking One external examiner for the School of ACE voiced concern that marking was not consistently anonymous. This is a serious concern, and the School is currently taking steps to address the issue. 3.4 Feedback There is a need to ensure that students get appropriate feedback so they can improve their work. While 19 external examiners expressly commented that markers were providing high quality feedback, four noted a lack of constructive feedback. This indicates that while in general marking standards in the College are of a sufficient, and in some cases high, standard, it is important for Programme Directors to continue to encourage markers to ensure each script is granted constructive feedback. This is of particular importance when markers are new or inexperienced. 3.5 Programme Documentation
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Ten external examiners commented that the programme information they were provided was insufficient. In many of these cases the documentation existed, but had simply not been provided to the external. This underlies the importance of ensuring that all externals are provided with a complete set of programme documentation annually. Additionally, for those programmes where real gaps were identified in their documentation urgent action is required. Again, the programmes involved have responded that these issues would be addressed for the next academic session. 3.6 Weightings of units of assessment While 47 external examiners expressly stated that the level of courses offered and/or the method of assessment was appropriate, a few examiners offered specific suggestions for improvement. Four suggested a wider range of assessment types, three suggested that the structure and content of a programme should be reviewed, and one had concerns about the weighting of courses. 3.7 External Examination Process Several external examiners voiced suggestions for improving the examination process. The examiners hoped that in future they could: Compare dissertations and course work Be sent a consistent number of dissertations Receive work to be assessed that was clearly organised and given cover sheets See all borderline cases See all distinctions Be given more time Be allowed to approve exam questions Be warned in advance if required to adjudicate marks at an Exam Board All these issues highlight the importance of clear communication between the Programme Director and the external examiner to ensure that expectations are managed properly and that externals are provided with sufficient information to feel confident in the quality of the examination process. 3.8 Double Marking/Moderation Related to the issue of inconsistent marking is the need for double marking and/or moderation. Three examiners were concerned that internal moderation of marks was needed in order to ensure fairness and consistency. Where moderation was practised, four examiners thought that moderated marks should be more transparent, to ensue that it is clear how an adjusted mark was determined and to ease external examiner difficulties when making an assessment as an outsider. Another concern was the practice of having student‟s supervisors serving as internal markers. A suggestion was made that in future at least one marker for each dissertation will not have been involved in the supervision of that project.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 3.9 Plagiarism Plagiarism did not feature as a significant issue in the reports. Three examiners suggested that better guidelines were needed, two of whom were from PPLS. It is therefore recommended that all Programme Directors in this School ensure that their programme documentation accurately reflects the University‟s plagiarism policy in order to avoid any future problems in this area. One examiner in H&C suggested that the University should invest in plagiarism software. 3.10 Student Achievement Throughout the College, the majority of comments regarding the overall quality of student achievement were positive. However, four examiners commented on a lack of high quality work or distinctions. In all cases they believed the marking had been conducted fairly. In one case (SPS) the examiner suggested that „The department needs to clarify in the Student‟s Handbooks, and also in any covering documents, the parameters of a “dissertation”, and offer more guidance for students‟. Another (DIV) noted, „The average performances of students this year may point to the need for greater staff assistance in formulating a research topic and in the process of writing‟. One (DIV) suggested that the standard of teaching was not in question, but that more attention should be paid to the admissions selection criteria. 3.11 Operation of Exam Boards A surprising 11 external examiners noted that they had been unable to attend the Exam Board. This is of particular concern in the Schools of Education (3) and LLC (5). It is not clear from the reports whether in each case all eight conditions were met to allow the Board to meet without the external in situ. All Schools are encouraged to ensure that all Exam Board Convenors are familiar with section 9.2 (p. 12-13) of the Postgraduate Assessment Regulations, to ensure that they are compliant. The most common complaints from externals regarding Exam Boards were that the exam board should be familiar with the criteria for distinction (5), and that, when possible, marks should be agreed before the board (3). One examiner (SPS) felt that the Board did not pay adequate attention to his views, stating „The board seemed to make several ad hoc decisions not in accordance with written requirements under the aegis of discretion and seemed unwilling to grant much weight to my opinions‟.
Administration Despite the interruption caused by the strike action, which affected most examiners, 38 commented that the School/Programme administration had been helpful or satisfactory. Nevertheless, a few administrative errors came to light through the process of reviewing the reports.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 One examiner claims he was not given proper information from the College PG Office. Five reports from the School of Law did not reach the College PG Office, although in some cases the examiners claim to have submitted them. It is unclear, however, whether the reports were submitted to the College or the School. The situation was further confused by the fact that external examiners in Law often serve on both undergraduate and postgraduate boards, and some were inclined to send only one report. These issues should be addressed by the ongoing efforts in the College PG Office to revise and improve processes and procedures in this area. 5 School Responses to External Examiner Reports Of the 94 external examiner reports that were received, the PGO received copies of only 55 responses from the appropriate PG/Programme Director, leaving 40 reports apparently without replies. The majority of these reports lacked any negative feedback (and a large proportion had no written comments). In cases where the PG Dean did not specifically note anything in the report as requiring attention, the PG/Programme Directors seem reluctant to respond. In those few cases where substantive comments were made by externals the College will continue to chase a robust response from the School. 6 Award of Distinction for MSc by Research and MSc Taught Programmes One examiner (H&C) voiced concern about the threshold for the award of distinction for both MSc by Research and taught MSc programmes across the University. It was mentioned that in the School of History & Classics the current threshold relating to the award of distinction is 70% on the dissertation and 67% on the coursework, which was accepted practice in the former Faculty of Arts. One examiner was concerned that this did not clearly match the Assessment Regulation 8.4, which states: „To achieve a distinction, a student must have been awarded at least 70% on the University's Postgraduate Common Marking Scheme for the dissertation and must also have been awarded a mark for the coursework element that is also at least, or very close to, the 70% standard‟. The Dean‟s view is that, on the basis of Assessment Regulation 9.10, a distinction threshold of 67 is conceivably defensible, but only in limited circumstances. The regulation states: Boards of Examiners must consider students whose marks are borderline for progression or award purposes. Borderline marks are defined as marks from three percentage points below the class or grade boundary up to the boundary itself, e.g. 37.00% to 39.99% for a Diploma award. Boards of Examiners must publish in advance the factors that will be taken into account for borderline decisions, which can include: (a) cases in which a student has performed better in courses at a higher level; (b) cases where the amount of credited assessed work to be used for classification is less than the norm (e.g., where credits have
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 been awarded for progression purposes only in recognition of special circumstances); and (c) profiles of performance. (See section 3.1) It is suggested that Schools who formerly operated under the regulations of the old Faculty of Arts) should now consider whether they wish their distinctions to be seen as in some sense „easier‟ than those earned elsewhere. Boards that make a distinction award at 67 MUST have justifiable reasons as per (a)-(c) above, and these reasons must be recorded in the exam board minutes. 7 Resubmission of Dissertations Two externals in the Management School and Economics questioned why there is no facility for re-submission of dissertations for students who fall in the 4049% category, stating that the „minor amendments‟ clause (47-49%) is insufficient and that Edinburgh University is out of step with comparable institutions in regard to this regulation. This issue was championed by the School‟s PG Director and raised at the CHSS Postgraduate Studies Committee on 14 February 2007. While the Committee ultimately declined to pursue an amendment to the regulations, it is a testament to the School‟s responsiveness to criticism from their external examiners. 8 Summary Throughout the College, the external examiners‟ reports indicate that the level of teaching and learning opportunities are comparable to those at other institutions, and in some cases exceed them. External examiners in all Schools identified both examples of best practice and issues for concern. All Schools should review their processes to ensure that they incorporate the examples of best practice highlighted in this report, specifically: Ensure that marking is consistent across examiners; When possible, provide markers with indicative answers; Ensure that markers provide students with timely quality feedback; Educate markers and external examiners about the University‟s Postgraduate Common Marking Scheme, and ensure that it is consistently utilised; Ensure that specific assessment criteria are provided to students and markers; Ensure that all marking is conducted anonymously; When possible, allow for double marking/and or moderation of essays; Ensure that the process of double marking or moderation is transparent; Continue to review the level of courses and methods of assessment on a regular basis; Ensure that external examiners are provided with appropriate course documentation; Liaise with external examiners to manage expectations regarding the examination process;
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Ensure that external examiners attend boards, and where this is not possible, ensure that boards are in compliance with section 9.2 of the Postgraduate Assessment Regulations; Listen to the advice offered by external examiners, and where appropriate take action to address the issues they raise.
Dr Erin McGibbon Smith November 2007
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Appendix 7
COLLEGE OF HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCE Learning and Teaching Strategy
1 December 2006 Executive Summary The College intends that the Learning and Teaching Strategy („the Strategy‟) will help it continue to offer a quality learning experience for students and thereby to sustain the University‟s position as a centre of teaching and research excellence recognised world-wide. AIMS From a learner perspective The College will aim: To give students an excellent learning experience, engaged with and informed by the research conducted within our internationally leading university. To stimulate and support the development of active, independent and reflective learners. To recognise the benefits of, and provide further opportunities for, flexible study across the disciplines of the College. To assist students to develop the personal and transferable skills they will need to succeed in their studies and in their chosen careers. To support students to integrate into the academic community of the College. To encourage students to enrich their learning experiences through interaction with fellow students from a range of different cultures and backgrounds, and to provide support for students with particular requirements.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 From a teaching / institutional perspective The College will aim: To maintain and enhance teaching standards that befit the College’s reputation for excellence, thereby remaining competitive in student recruitment. To better link teaching and research so that students benefit from challenging teaching that is fully informed by the vibrant research environment of the College, and researchers gain from open-minded engagement with the insights that students bring. To continue to encourage teachers to be reflective in a scholarly way with regard to learning, teaching and assessment. To encourage innovations in particular aspects of learning, teaching and assessment. To further align its estates and teaching infrastructure to support this strategy. To take into account student expectations regarding learning and teaching in the College, assist learners to make informed decisions, and communicate clearly the College’s expectations of students and the content and requirements for particular courses and programmes.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 INTRODUCTION Context The College intends that the Learning and Teaching Strategy („the Strategy‟) will help it continue to offer a quality learning experience for students and thereby to sustain the University‟s position as a centre of teaching and research excellence recognised world-wide. The College consistently achieves excellent ratings in external assessments of the quality of its teaching, and it is determined to maintain and where possible improve upon these standards over the next five years against the background of new challenges facing the higher education sector in Scotland. The Strategy has been written in the context of considerable change in terms of organisation (the College and the Schools replaced Faculties and Departments in 2002), and curriculum structure (the Curriculum Project and semesterisation). Given that these processes require a period of consolidation it is not intended that the Strategy should presage further major upheavals in our existing patterns of learning support and teaching delivery. At the same time, innovations such as the redevelopment of the Main Library Building, the upgrading of other estates, and the increasing opportunities made available by new learning technologies, make this a propitious time to develop a learning and teaching strategy. Current Provision Standards of excellence are already in place across the College and, therefore, the Strategy sets out a vision of the key aims which will best build upon this foundation, seeking to promote the medium and long-term (two to five years) enhancement of learning and teaching. The Strategy stresses the importance of maintaining a close linkage between teaching and research within a research-intensive institution; of assisting students to develop an active, reflective and critical approach to learning; and of supporting teachers to be reflective and to introduce beneficial innovations in learning and teaching. Resources for teaching are unlikely to increase significantly, and therefore a major challenge for the College is to maintain and enhance its teaching provision within broadly existing circumstances. Responsibility for Implementation It is hoped that the Strategy will be embraced enthusiastically by Schools, subject areas and individual members of academic staff across the College, in recognition of the role the Strategy can play in improving learning and teaching delivery. Therefore, where the Strategy refers to „the College‟, it alludes in the widest sense to all of those with responsibilities for learning and teaching delivery. It is intended that the Strategy will guide the College Office, including its Committees and Deanery, in developing further and more specific policies, procedures and priorities for action. Therefore, the College Office will play the leading role in coordinating the implementation of the Strategy, reviewing progress in its implementation, and in providing advice to staff in Schools as appropriate. In addition to setting high level aims for the medium to long term, the Strategy identifies specific short-term implementation points which the College Office will take forward with
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 input from Schools. The College expects that Schools will both assist the College Office with its particular roles and will implement the Strategy in ways most compatible with their particular disciplines and contexts. Purpose and scope of the Strategy The Strategy will assist the College to: evaluate its current performance in relation to learning and teaching; maintain existing excellence in learning, teaching and assessment, and where appropriate, promote innovations which seek to improve upon existing practices; enhance the quality of students‟ learning experiences, promoting learning and teaching values and systems appropriate to a College which is internationally respected as a centre of teaching and research excellence; better relate students‟ learning experiences to the research culture of the College; respond more strategically to changes in higher education and in students‟ expectations and backgrounds; and reflect periodically in the medium and longer term on how best to improve the quality of the College‟s learning and teaching. As such the Strategy should be periodically reviewed and where necessary revised.
The Strategy focuses on both undergraduate and taught postgraduate learning and teaching in the College. Existing excellence in learning and teaching The College‟s track record of quality teaching delivery is clear from external examiners‟ reports; internal quality assurance and enhancement processes; external quality reviews conducted by the Quality Assurance Agency; the reviews of professional and statutory bodies; high student retention rates; and surveys and „league tables‟. It is also clear that there are many specific examples of good practices in individual subject areas. The College has robust quality assurance systems in place to ensure that these standards remain high and that teaching staff critically reflect on their teaching. It operates an annual quality reporting process across all of its Schools. In addition, the University runs a six-year rolling programme of Teaching Programme Reviews for undergraduate provision and Quinquennial Reviews for postgraduate provision. In the course of the last year, the College has also supported Schools in efforts to enhance teaching quality in three particular respects: Teachability (increasing the accessibility of the curriculum to students with disabilities); e-learning; and employability.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Characteristics of, and recent developments within, the College Diversity of provision Key characteristics of the College are its size and diversity, covering as it does the full spectrum of humanities and social science disciplines. The College‟s ten Schools offer over 200 undergraduate and approximately 140 postgraduate degree programmes, while the Office of Lifelong Learning runs in excess of 400 part-time courses and the Institute for Applied Language Studies about 160 courses. Diversity within the College extends also to its learning and teaching methods and modes of study which include lectures, seminars, tutorials, group work, peer assisted learning, project work, laboratory work, placements and internships, online work, and structured individual learning. A variety of assessment methods are also in place, including examinations, oral presentations, own-time assignments, group projects, essays and dissertations. A significant number of subject areas in the College are related to particular professions (for example, Nursing, Law, Education, Psychology), and therefore have to engage closely with professional bodies to meet their requirements. There are close links between CHSS and the other Colleges of the University on a subject area to subject area basis. In addition to its own provision the University validates the degrees of students studying at Edinburgh College of Art, and the College of Humanities and Social Science is responsible for managing these arrangements. There are clear signs that this collaboration is proving valuable in the sharing of ideas regarding good practices in learning and teaching.
The student body The College has approximately 14,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students of whom over 75% are undergraduates. The College anticipates that over the medium to long-term its full-time undergraduate UK and EU student numbers will remain broadly stable at around 2003-04 levels. The College, in line with University policy, is planning to increase its postgraduate numbers as a proportion of overall student population. It is on track with its plans to increase its taught postgraduate student numbers by 40% between 2004-05 and 2008-09, and it has been increasing its portfolio of PGT courses to this end; it also plans to increase its postgraduate research student numbers by 15% over the same period. In cultural terms the College is very diverse, with students from over 100 different countries including approximately 1600 students from non-EU Member States. The College also aims to increase full-time non-EU student numbers, comprising both undergraduate and postgraduate students, by 30% between 2004-05 and 2008-09.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Undergraduate applications to the College rose faster than the average UK figure in 2005, with an increase of 17.7% on 2004 figures, compared to 7.4% across the UK as a whole and 9.6% across the University as a whole. Wider developments such as the introduction of variable tuition fees in England have had an impact upon the number of applications from the rest of the UK. In addition to its undergraduate and postgraduate students, some 17,000 students are enrolled each year on continuing and professional education courses run by the Office of Lifelong Learning and the Institute of Applied Language Studies, and the College aims to achieve a 12% growth in the number of students enrolled on IALS and OLL courses between 2004-05 and 2008-09. The College, and the University as a whole, is committed to widening access to students from relatively disadvantaged groups. The number of students declaring disabilities has increased substantially. In the University as a whole, this number increased from about 200 in 1993-94 to about 1450 in 2005-06 (of whom about 870 were in CHSS). There are growing pressures upon many students to find paid employment in the course of their studies, creating difficulties in terms of balancing study and employment. In Scotland, about two thirds of higher education students work during term-time.2
Some of these trends are broadening the diversity of the College‟s student body, and whilst this promises significant benefits, it is likely also to lead to a wider range of student demands. In addition, the planned increase in student numbers promises significant challenges in relation to learning and teaching delivery and assessment. Resources The College has an annual turnover of over £70 million. Approximately 1400 staff work within the College, of whom about 940 are academic staff. Figures from the Time Allocation Model suggest that the time of academic staff is distributed fairly evenly between teaching and research (in 200405: 37% teaching / support for teaching; 38% research / support for research; 5% scholarship; 18% management; 2% other). The College has a large estate, mainly located on the George Square and Holyrood campuses, Old College, Chambers Street, and New College. This estate comprises a wide range of different types of learning spaces, including lecture facilities, seminar rooms, individual learning spaces, libraries and laboratories.
Callender, Professor C, Research Report on Higher and Further Education Students' Income, Expenditure and Debt in Scotland 2004 – 2005, Scottish Executive, 2005.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 AIMS From a learner perspective The College will aim: To give students an excellent learning experience, engaged with and informed by the research conducted within our internationally leading university.
It is essential that students are encouraged and assisted to develop a „sense of the discipline‟ in which they are studying, including an awareness of research ethics, and that to this end teachers engage them as fully as possible with research developments and methods in their subject areas. It is particularly important that students are engaged in the research culture of the College from an early stage because exposure to cutting-edge research in this way should both deepen their learning experience from the outset of their studies and also equip them better to engage in research projects in their honours years in the case of undergraduate students, or at the dissertation stage in respect of taught postgraduate students. To stimulate and support the development of active, independent and reflective learners
Students should be encouraged and supported to develop an active and independent approach to their studies, embracing a passion for creative learning, the ability to conduct critical enquiry with the appropriate methodology, and the capacity to understand and evaluate complex information and different viewpoints in a scholarly way. In this way students can best reflect upon and work towards achieving the learning outcomes they set for themselves. In many cases students will develop the range of skills necessary for academic study through the structured learning and support provided in relation to the particular courses and programmes that they are studying. There are, however, other sources of study skills support available to students in the College should they require them, for example from the Library, Computing Services, and the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Assessment, as well as the help available from students‟ Directors of Studies or postgraduate supervisors. There is evidence (for instance, from a study undertaken by TLA in 2004) that the College could improve and make more consistent some aspects of study support. It is possible that study support demands will increase as the student population increases and becomes more diverse. In light of these factors the College should review the position regarding study support and decide how it might form new policy and implement improvements. This issue will be an important part of the proposed review of induction (see pages 10-11 below). The College also recognises that the rich environment of the University (including its co-curricula activities) and the city gives students unique opportunities to develop as people. As part of their personal development, learners within the College should be encouraged to recognise their responsibility to contribute meaningfully to the life of the city and broader society.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 To recognise the benefits of, and provide further opportunities for, flexible study across the disciplines of the College.
A distinctive and highly valued aspect of the College (and a general feature of the University), is that it offers both its undergraduate and postgraduate students the opportunity to study across a range of disciplines and subject areas. The development of the College‟s new organisational structures, and the Curriculum Project, are intended to enhance these features. One of the strengths of many postgraduate taught programmes within the College is their interdisciplinary nature which both reflects the research interests and expertise of academic staff and makes these programmes more attractive to students. Similarly, at undergraduate level opportunities exist for study across a plurality of subjects through the taking of „outside‟ courses, formal joint degrees, and tailored degree programmes (Individualised Subject Combinations). This diversity reflects the breadth of scholarship across the College and is an integral part of the ethos of the four year Scottish honours degree. The goal of enhancing opportunities for interdisciplinary study is linked to that of increasing flexibility for students in choosing options. The College should enable students to shape their curriculum in ways that suit their objectives, whilst also exposing them to a range of different methodologies and perspectives; for example, by allowing them when selecting their Honours specialisation to choose between two different subjects. In general, the undergraduate curriculum could perhaps be made more flexible. For example, the perceived demands of certain professional bodies can act to constrain curriculum design, leaving little scope for students to take outside subjects in certain degree programmes. These features of undergraduate study are complex and administratively burdensome to manage and can lead to tensions with other learning and teaching considerations. For example, there can be a tension between the opportunity for students to choose outside subjects and the capacity of Schools to manage class sizes. There can also be a difficulty in balancing the capacity of students to transfer degrees and the pressure on the College and individual Schools to manage student numbers; in particular, the College is aware of the need to regulate the ability of students to transfer programmes where this involves additional years of study. However, the flexible nature of existing provision is well-used and, the College believes, highly valued by students. For example, approximately 600 CHSS students who successfully completed programmes in 2004-05 did so in programmes of study significantly different to those for which they enrolled in Year 1 (excluding those students who transferred to General degrees). Of undergraduate students enrolled in CHSS, approximately 40 are enrolled on Individualised Subject Combinations. Therefore, these opportunities should be retained and further developed. The College should investigate whether there are any opportunities to enhance the scope for expansive and flexible study at undergraduate level, for example by enabling or even requiring that students on all undergraduate programmes take a minimum number of credits in subjects substantially different from their main subject of study. Working with the OLL it should also explore the opportunity for greater flexibility and choice, by making „for-credit‟ OLL courses available to undergraduate students as part of their programmes of study. It would also be useful for the College to consider the potential for further inter-disciplinary
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 postgraduate programmes which may be attractive to potential students. The College will be contributing to the implementation of the report of the Senatus Undergraduate Study Committee‟s Working Group on Part-time Study, which has the potential to lead to greater flexibility in both undergraduate and postgraduate study. At the same time the College will require also to monitor and reflect upon the resource implications of expansive, flexible and cross-disciplinary study considering, for example, whether there exist excessive administrative or other burdens in particular areas, and on appropriate ways to manage these. To assist students to develop the personal and transferable skills they will need to succeed in their studies and in their chosen careers.
The full immersion of students in the scholarship of the College not only maximises their learning experiences but also best provides them with many of the motivational incentives and skills which are essential in reflecting seriously about their work and planning their careers. Just as the College‟s student body changes, so too does the employment market into which students emerge. For instance, the Careers Service has observed that in recruiting graduates, employers are increasingly placing emphasis upon not only academic achievement but also transferable skills including team-work, leadership, problem-solving, communication and presentation of work. The College is currently encouraging Schools to engage with the employability agenda, and it should continue to do so (possible areas for further work include improving student induction processes, and enhancing the profile and availability of existing transferable skills courses). It is also important that this process extends equally to both undergraduate and postgraduate students. There can be benefits to taking a more systematic and coordinated approach to the provision of research skills and wider transferable skills for postgraduate taught students in order to ensure that a minimum level of adequate support is available for all postgraduate students. Therefore, the College should continue to work with the University‟s Transskills Unit, advising in relation to transferable skills provision and considering how best to manage the resource implications of providing any additional transferable skills support. The University is committed to introducing Personal Development Planning, and is developing software tools to support this. PDP is about supporting students to reflect upon their learning achievements and the skills they develop throughout their University experience (including the co-curriculum), which should remain an ongoing process after University. More work needs to be done to identify the exact shape and form that PDP will take and how it will be implemented. The College has set up a Steering Group to take forward its work on PDP, and as part of this it will encourage a debate within the College in the course of academic year 2006-07 as to how PDP should be implemented on a College-wide basis. This process is designed to ensure that PDP in the College is properly coordinated and supported to meet the particular needs of its undergraduate and postgraduate students. To support students to integrate into the academic community of the College.
The transition to university life, including transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study, can be challenging for some students. Effective induction, which
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 the College views as an extended process of integration rather than a set of activities limited to Freshers‟ Week, can be crucial in helping students to settle into and feel part of the academic community of the College and University, as well as making them aware of the support services available to them and the College‟s expectations regarding their studies. Particular categories of students, such as international students and students from under-represented groups, can have specific induction needs and there is evidence, for example from surveys of postgraduate and international students, that whilst some aspects of induction in the College are very positive, others could be improved. The College should review how effective and consistent induction arrangements are across the College (taking into account activities run at Universitylevel, for example by the Library and the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Assessment) and identify areas for improvement. In doing so, it should take into account the current Enhancement Theme on the First Year. As part of this review, the College should consider the potential of activities such as peer-assisted learning and support (models of which are being developed in the School of Law and in Economics) and the mentoring of new students by more senior students as elements of induction, as well as ways to support students in their learning more generally. From discussion with student focus groups another initiative which would seem likely to assist the transition to university life is the introduction of study plans to assist students who often have few hours per week of formally-structured learning compared to students in the other Colleges of the University, to manage better their research, revision, and preparation for assessment. Since the College aims to increase the number of international students, many of whom may not have English as a first language, the College should pay particular attention in this review to ensuring that these students have the appropriate level of English comprehension and general support in acclimatising to study in a new environment. To encourage students to enrich their learning experiences through interaction with fellow students from a range of different cultures and backgrounds, and to provide support for students with particular requirements.
The College and the wider University has a very diverse mix of students from different backgrounds, cultures and countries, and it aims to increase the proportion of students from under-represented areas and to recruit a greater number of international students. This diversity can enrich the learning experiences of all students. Extending certain types of learning such as group learning and project work is likely to enable students to integrate better with one another and with staff. One way in which the College student composition is already diverse and becoming more so is in respect of the number of students who are declaring disabilities, and to support these students the College is endeavouring to make its learning and teaching provision as accessible as possible. The College should continue to encourage and support Schools to undertake and implement Teachability audits, and to work with the Disability Office to assist it to refine the processes for managing reasonable adjustments for disabled students.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 From a teaching / institutional perspective The College will aim: To maintain and enhance teaching standards that befit the College’s reputation for excellence, thereby remaining competitive in student recruitment.
Currently recruitment is generally buoyant across the College but it is essential to maintain the capacity to attract students of the highest calibre. In particular, the College should seek to develop the qualities in students which give them the opportunity to best fulfil their potential and also indicate to the outside world the specific strengths of our University and College. Although the College should certainly aim to enhance learning and teaching practice, it is also important to maintain existing excellence as consistently as possible in the face of new challenges. To this end, the College will continue to operate and develop its annual QAE processes, just as the University will continue with its rolling programmes of internal subject review. To better link teaching and research so that students benefit from challenging teaching that is fully informed by the vibrant research environment of the College, and researchers gain from open-minded engagement with the insights that students bring.
The College is a centre of research excellence and as such it is essential that internationally respected researchers are actively involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, disseminating to students the understandings they have of their disciplines. As well as offering advantages to students, the closer linkage of research and teaching can also benefit teaching staff and the research culture of the College as a whole. For example, where students can be encouraged to undertake projects or dissertations in areas related to their tutor‟s current research interests, this can be rewarding both for teachers, by assisting them in taking their research forward, and for students who are exposed to cutting-edge research. It is also hoped that increasing the exposure of students to research activities within the College may lead to a higher proportion of undergraduate students progressing to postgraduate study, and taught postgraduate students progressing to research within the College. This would obviously assist the College to meet its target of increasing PGR student numbers and it would also lead to a more vibrant research environment, providing more people within the College able to support undergraduate teaching. The College should explore ways to develop further the linkage between research and teaching. Possible approaches include further integrating research activities into courses and programmes, for example by encouraging students to undertake literature reviews and other research activities early on in their studies; exposing students further to leading research within Schools as part of their studies; show-casing research activities within Schools; and encouraging students to attend staff seminars and other research events.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 To continue to encourage teachers to be reflective in a scholarly way with regard to learning, teaching and assessment.
In order that learning, teaching and assessment continue to be as effective as possible, the College should encourage teaching staff to reflect on their teaching in the light of the latest research on student learning and effective teaching practices, and to develop the ability to evaluate progress in their teaching self-critically. It is important that teaching should be seen as an integral part of an academic‟s scholarship and not as a separate activity. Therefore, the College should recognise the contribution and enhance the professional skills of all staff who teach or support learning. Staff development The College strongly encourages staff to engage in training and development opportunities which help them to become more reflective and innovative in their teaching, to increase their awareness of wider issues such as equality of opportunities, and to develop management and leadership skills. This includes encouragement to participate in training courses provided by the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Assessment, as well as in national subject-related support networks. Activities such as staff mentoring and induction can also be valuable. For new lecturers and postgraduates beginning teaching duties some aspects of training are compulsory, and the College is particularly aware of the need to ensure that postgraduate students who undertake undergraduate teaching receive appropriate training and support. The College is engaging with Enhancement Themes and it should continue to encourage Schools also to do so, though the relative importance of different themes will depend on the needs of the institution and particular Schools. Staff appraisal provides a useful mechanism for staff to reflect upon their teaching, training and career development needs, and the College will continue to encourage Schools to implement appraisal systems. The College Equality and Diversity Committee conducted a staff survey on appraisal practice in October 2006, which indicated that about 44% of academic staff have been appraised during the last three years. The University‟s policy is that appraisal should be in place for all staff. Therefore, the College E&D Committee, in collaboration with Human Resources, will encourage Schools to roll out more widely the practice of appraisal and monitor progress on this issue. Career development and incentives The College should consider how better to develop incentives for excellent teaching and innovative practices. For example, teaching-based promotions including Personal Chairs in Student Learning are a recent innovation of the University, and the College should consider what a career path would be to such a position. In addition, the College may wish to consider how the sabbatical system might better encourage a relationship between research and teaching, for example in terms of explaining the teaching benefits of research leave in sabbatical applications or even on occasion, as it has done in the past, agreeing to sabbaticals for the development of new courses. Alongside these developments it will be important that the pay modernisation process leads to mechanisms that recognise and reward excellent teaching, for example in relation to promotion processes.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Sharing good practices The College can also support the development of innovative practices in learning and teaching by encouraging a culture of greater openness and sharing regarding positive learning and teaching developments, and highlighting and disseminating good practices. The College and Schools should give clear support and leadership, for example by endorsing and publicising examples of good practices in order to engage as wide a range of staff as possible. Possible options include developing internet resources and using existing College publications, or by recognising the outstanding contributions of teaching staff. There may also be opportunities to share more systematically good practices that staff become aware of in other universities through their role as external examiners. To encourage innovations and good practices in particular aspects of learning, teaching and assessment.
The College should encourage and support staff to develop innovative approaches which take account of good practices developed both within the University and elsewhere. It is primarily the responsibility of Schools and subject areas, and individual academic staff to decide which particular models of learning, teaching and assessment are appropriate for their courses and programmes, and therefore the Strategy does not seek to make detailed recommendations on these. There are, however, general issues such as the increasing size and diversity of the student population, and Strategy themes such as the development of personal and transferable skills, which do seem to suggest the need for innovation in the delivery of learning, teaching and assessment. In addition, the College has identified three further areas where Schools and subject areas should be encouraged to develop innovative practices, namely assessment, team-teaching, and e-learning. Assessment The balance of assessment at both undergraduate and postgraduate level across the College has shifted in recent years, with a move towards increased reliance on coursework and own-time assignments. The College, and the wider academic community, is currently devoting considerable energy to reflecting on the volume, frequency and nature of assessment, including the appropriate balance between formative and summative assessment. For example, the College Undergraduate Studies Committee recently produced guidelines on these issues; in addition, assessment is currently an Enhancement Theme. Taking into account this work, staff should reflect on their approach to assessment, the relationship between assessment and learning outcomes, and the resource implications for staff of different forms of assessment. In general, it is desirable to have a balance of different forms of assessment. However, factors such as resource pressures and increased concern regarding plagiarism can encourage academic staff to standardise and reduce assessments, or to rely more heavily on unseen examinations. The College should continue to explore and, where appropriate, encourage the development of innovative methods of assessment. Team-teaching Team-teaching can support flexibility of student choice and allow popular courses to be taught every year, thereby allowing sabbaticals and other leave to be taken whilst minimising the disruption to the curriculum. Team-teaching has the added benefit of
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 integrating teaching more closely to collaborative research. Whilst team-teaching is successfully undertaken in some areas of the College it is not widely used elsewhere; and in general is most commonly used at pre-Honours level rather than at other levels. There is therefore scope to broaden the use of team-teaching, for example by increasing its use at Honours and postgraduate level. The College should conduct a review of current practices in team-teaching, and reflect on pedagogical research and practices at other institutions, in order to identify where there would be benefits in extending its use. Allocation of teaching resources Schools should be encouraged to keep under review the allocation and distribution of resources used for teaching. In particular, they should consider whether the current balance of resources allocated respectively between undergraduate years one and two, and years three and four, is appropriate to meet the learning and teaching aims of this Strategy. In broader context Schools should also review the level of resources they are committing to PGT provision. E-learning In many ways e-learning (the integration of communication and information technology into learning) is already central to learning and teaching in the College (for example in the use of WebCT and e-mail for communication; the wide network of electronic resources and databases available through the Library and other sources; and the IT infrastructure supported by the Computing Service), and we expect it to play an increasing role in the future. The value of e-learning depends upon how well it supports other learning and teaching aims, and it should therefore be fully integrated into the learning and teaching activities of the College. Whilst e-learning may not generally be cheaper than other forms of learning and teaching, it may be more effective and lead to better learning experiences; it can also under some circumstances offer economies of scale. However, it is anticipated that the use made of e-learning in learning and teaching activities will vary considerably depending on the type of programme. For example, at undergraduate level it may generally be intended to complement traditional forms of teaching within an on-campus context, whereas for postgraduates it may assist in networking with international partners, and for some programmes it may support off-campus activities (either by supporting elements of programmes, such as placements, or in some cases offering entire programmes). Currently the College is further developing its thinking in this area by producing an Elearning Strategy, and it will be important that this is integrated with the College‟s Learning and Teaching Strategy. It is anticipated that through its E-learning Strategy the College will encourage the development of innovative and effective e-learning to support the particular learning requirements of different types of programmes, for instance in the area of assessment. To further align its estates and teaching infrastructure to support this strategy.
It is essential that the learning and teaching spaces within the College are fit for purpose. The College is making considerable progress in upgrading its estates, and aligning their use better to meet Schools‟ needs, for example through the refurbishment of the lecture theatres and foyer space in the Appleton Tower and the Medical Quadrangle, and the plans to move the School of Social and Political Studies into the Medical Extension Building. In addition, the University is making a major
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 investment in redeveloping the Main University Library, and the College should continue to liaise with the Library to ensure that the redeveloped building meets the needs of the College‟s students and staff and is in line with relevant aims within the Strategy, as well as with College‟s other priorities, such as research. As part of the implementation of the Strategy, the College should work with Schools to clarify further their current and anticipated future learning and teaching space requirements (size, distribution and nature of spaces, equipment needs), taking into account any changes in learning and teaching methodologies. This process should be taken forward in conjunction with Estates and Buildings and MALTS, which has a rolling programme of equipment renewal. Whilst the College is making good progress in refurbishing its learning and teaching spaces, increasing pressure is being placed on these spaces and indeed its estate as a whole as a result of the increase in the student and staff population. Whilst the student population increased from approximately 12260 to 13800 and the number of staff increased from approximately 1250 to 1400 between 2002-03 and 2005-06, lecture, teaching and seminar space has remained broadly constant (though more space has been made available for student study space). Therefore, the College will need to make more efficient use of its learning and teaching spaces, for example by spreading lectures and classes more evenly over the full working day. In reviewing Schools‟ learning and teaching space requirements, the College may wish to consider the following issues: the more flexible use of estates; standardising available learning resources including IT resources; resolving difficulties relating to time-tabling and room-booking; matching accommodation to class sizes; and improving physical accessibility. Group learning (including autonomous student learning) can be valuable when integrated into overall programmes. For instance it can assist students in developing leadership, social and communication skills. Currently there is evidence of insufficient group learning space to meet demand, and this could become a bigger issue if there is an extension of group learning in future. Therefore, the College‟s programme of refurbishment should help facilitate group learning further, for example by providing break-out spaces for group learning attached to larger venues. The provision of individual learning spaces for students is also an important issue, since not all students have appropriate facilities at home. This may be a particularly important issue in relation to the widening participation agenda. In considering individual and group learning space, the provision of space by the Library will also need to be taken into account. The provision of informal space – where people can gather and mingle - is also important to developing a scholarly community. Students can find access to learning spaces „out of hours‟ valuable. Therefore, the College should continue to consult user groups on the levels of access which they would find useful, whilst balancing such aspirations against the associated costs and health and safety considerations; it should also monitor the extent to which use is made of „out of hours‟ facilities.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 To take into account student expectations regarding learning and teaching in the College, assist learners to make informed decisions, and communicate clearly the College’s expectations of students and the content and requirements for particular courses and programmes.
It is essential for students to be supported in making decisions regarding their studies – particularly undergraduate students who have the benefit of a wide choice of courses, including the flexibility to undertake outside subjects. The College is continuing to reflect on the best and most resource-effective ways of providing such support, and as a result of reviewing the „Director of Studies‟ scheme, will explore ways of enhancing administrative support for certain tasks to allow Directors to concentrate on supplying academic advice rather than routine data input. At postgraduate level, the academic guidance needs of students are normally met by a programme coordinator or supervisor. The College should reflect on alternative models for providing postgraduates with support and guidance such as the models currently operating within the School of Education and the Management School and Economics, with a view to recommending improvements to practices across the College. The College should also make clear to students what is expected of them as they make transitions from pre-university to university education, pre-honours to honours study, or undergraduate to postgraduate work. This can be done, for example, by the clear articulation of expected learning and assessment methods and outcomes in course and programme documentation. The College should also consider the idea of a student „charter‟ setting out what the College expects of students, and what they might reasonably expect of the College. It is important for the College, and individual Schools and subject areas, to continue to reflect systematically on the changing demands, expectations and perceptions of students regarding learning and teaching in the College. For example, since the vast majority of undergraduate entrants to the College are school-leavers, in designing first year courses it is important to have up-to-date knowledge regarding what knowledge and skills students are likely to have developed at school.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Implementing the Strategy On behalf of the College, the Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching Innovation) will monitor progress in implementing the Strategy, reporting to and seeking input from relevant committees (in particular CUGSC, CPGSC, and CQAEC). He will be assisted in this by a consultation or working group. On an annual basis the Associate Dean will also report to the College Office on progress, identifying priorities for action in the coming year and for the longer term as appropriate, and recommending ways in which the Strategy might be updated as necessary. The Strategy will inform the College and Schools‟ plans, and annual quality reports from Schools should make reference to Schools‟ progress in implementing the Strategy. It would also be reasonable to expect Schools to report on the implementation of the Strategy in the context of TPRs and Quinquennial reviews. Other relevant College strategies should be linked to the Strategy and the implementation of these different strategies should be coordinated by the College Office. The Strategy will be formally reviewed after three years. Whilst the primary role of this document is to identify high level aims, some particular areas for action will be led by the College Office. Of these, the following activities are recommended for action by the College in the course of 2006-07: Exploring ways to connect students more closely to the research culture of the College, and suggesting specific areas for action. Reviewing student induction and study skills support arrangements and identifying areas for improvement, with a view to working with relevant stakeholders to introduce changes in the short to medium term. Continuing to engage with the employability agenda, including taking forward work on Personal Development Planning and working with the Transkills Unit to improve transferable skills provision for postgraduate students. Working with Human Resources to review the current appraisal process (including frequency) and make sure it is fit for purpose; deciding and agreeing with Schools how to measure the implementation of appraisal; and setting out realistic targets that Schools/College Office are able to work towards. Conducting a review of current practices in team-teaching in the College, and reflecting on pedagogical research and practices at other institutions, in order to identify where there would be benefits in extending the use of team-teaching. Working with Schools to clarify their current and anticipated future learning and teaching space requirements. By early 2007 agreeing an e-learning strategy which will be fully integrated with the Learning and Teaching Strategy. Monitoring how the College intends to implement the CUGSC report on Assessment, and considering ways in which innovations in assessment might be introduced in line with the current Enhancement theme. Continuing to liaise closely with the Library over the redevelopment of the Main Library building and seeking to ensure insofar as possible that this work meets the needs of staff and students, and is in line with relevant aims within the Strategy, as well as with College‟s other priorities, such as research.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Appendix: Process for developing the strategy The College, under the leadership of the Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching Innovation), has developed the Strategy in the following way: Working group To assist in the task of developing the strategy, the College set up a short-life working group, which was largely composed from self-nominations from College Committees. The College invited nominations from the following Committees: Undergraduate Studies, Postgraduate Studies, Quality Assurance and Enhancement, Research, Library, and Computing and Equipment. The College also invited other key stakeholders to join the group, including a EUSA nominee, a member of staff from the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Assessment, and other colleagues based upon their expertise in particular aspects of learning and teaching. The membership was as follows: Membership School / unit Self-nomination from College committee n/a
Stephen Tierney (Convener)
Dr Marcella Althaus-Reid Dr Jill Stephenson Alan Brown James Clunie Dr Kate Day Alan Ducklin Dr Richard Jones Dr Pat McLaughlin Ross Neilson Dr Neil Thin Professor Jon Usher
Associate Dean, Learning and Teaching Innovation, CHSS Divinity History and Classics Management School and Economics Management School and Economics Centre for Teaching Learning and Assessment Education Law Education n/a Social and Political Studies Literatures, Languages and Cultures
CQAEC n/a CUGSC n/a n/a CQAEC n/a CPGSC EUSA nomination College Library Committee College Library Committee
The group met four times between January and April 2006. Wider consultation To assist in the development of the Strategy, the Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching Innovation) consulted widely within the College as follows: Discussion with the relevant College Committees (Undergraduate Studies, Postgraduate Studies, Quality Assurance and Enhancement, Research, Library, Computing and Technical).
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Meetings other stakeholders, such as the Vice-Principal for Learning and Teaching, representatives from MALTS, the Careers Service, TLA, and individuals in Schools who expressed an interest in the development of the Strategy. The development of the Strategy was the topic of the College Forum event on 22 February 2006. The Associate Dean offered to meet with each of the College‟s Schools to discuss the draft Strategy and such meetings took place with several Schools. The Associate Dean met with student focus groups. Extensive consultation took place within the College Office.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Appendix 8 Formal response to Classics Teaching Programme Review The University of Edinburgh Teaching Programme Review Classics November 2006 1. Responses from the School of History, Classics, and Archaeology: The School of History, Classics, and Archaeology welcomes the positive and supportive report of the TPR reviewers. In particular, we are extremely heartened by the 14 issues that the team singled out for commendation. This is a young and dynamic team, and we are very pleased indeed to see that the rapid and positive changes to structures and curricula introduced following the influx of new staff in 2003-6 receives the strong endorsement of the panel. We should also like to underscore the impression given by the reviewers that Classics is regarded as highly supportive of and committed to its students. Finally, we should particularly like to draw attention to the panel‟s commendation of the „exceptional resource of the Classics library‟ (Commendation 6. 12) and to the recommendation that this „excellent local library [be] included in space allocation when [the School] moves in 2010‟ (Recommendation 7. 18). Recommendations Organisational 7.1 The process of breaking down academic barriers within the Subject Area, within the School and between the Subject Area and other parts of the University should be continued, thus fostering more interdisciplinary linkages. [Paragraph 2.12 and 4.1] We should point out that Classics already participates in numerous combined programmes, and also in interdisciplinary programmes, esp. at MSc level, with Archaeology, Celtic, Divinity, History, Islamic Studies, Philosophy, Scottish History, etc. This continues to develop, e.g. in closer links with our new colleagues in Archaeology and in the new MSC in Ancient Philosophy (with PPLS), and such „barriers‟ as remain within the School will erode further with co-location in 2010. Within the subject area itself there has been increasing collaboration at both subhonours (e.g. Art, History and Power, Myth and Religion) and honours (e.g. the Body, History of the Study of Classical Antiquity) level. 7.2 Management positions and structures, such as the Head of the Subject Area and the Teaching Committee, should be given a clearly-documented remit. [Paragraph 5.1] This is a recommendation that requires careful thought in connexion with the University-wide regrading process implemented in 2006-7. The School will develop job descriptions for offices such as Head of Subject Area in the course of 2007-8, as part of the process of appointing the new Heads of Classics and Scottish History. A remit for the Teaching Committee has now been produced and approved by SA meeting.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Curriculum 7.4 The Subject Area should further develop learning outcomes, both within programmes, and for each year. Although the students are clear from their experience that there is progression between years, it needs to be made clearer in the documentation. [Paragraph 4.3] Extensive work has been done on rewriting Programme Specifications and module ILOs to comply with this recommendation. In addition, the School Undergraduate Studies Committee now pays particular attention to ensuring that ILOs for new courses are on a par with best practice in the sector. 7.5 The extension of the opportunity to study beginners’ language at Junior Honours level has not been followed up with an opportunity to study post-beginners’ language at Honours level. This barrier to continuing language studies should be removed. [Paragraph 4.12] This has now been done, proposals having been approved by BoS in 2006-7. Student Support Structures / Student Experience 7.6 The possibility of providing partial funding for organised student study trips should be re-examined. We suggest that a first step would be restoring funded vacation projects for students with an Archaeological component in their degree programme. [Paragraph 2.14 and 5.6] We believe that it would be invidious to fund only students in archaeological subjects – it is clearly desirable that all students of the ancient world have an opportunity to visit classical sites and museums. It is possible that endowment (e.g. prize) funds may be converted for this purpose, though this will require permission of the trustees and will be a substantial task, in which the Subject Area may require the support of the University in seeking to modify the terms of bequests. 7.7 Some thought should be given to the composition and timing of the staff-student liaison meetings. Their minutes should be widely publicised and include action points arising. [Paragraph 5.7] In compliance with this recommendation guidelines for the Staff-Student Liaison Committee have now been drawn up and approved by SA meeting. 7.8 Further steps should be taken to make feedback available to students after examination. The student right to feedback should be made explicit in programme literature. The Subject Area should consider whether whole class feedback sessions should be embedded in learning. [Paragraph 5.8] Agreed, within the limits prescribed by Academic Policy Committee in 2006-7. Students will be offered generic feedback on performance in Semester 1 examinations, and will have the right to inspect their papers following marking. The proposal for whole-class feedback sessions will be considered at appropriate SA meetings.
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7.9 The Subject Area should make greater use of the Careers Service and the Development and Alumni Service. This would facilitate informed student choice of their future careers. Statistical information on student destinations is useful in promoting Classics to prospective students. [Paragraph 5.10] Very useful contact has already been made with D&A, and steps are being taken to maintain a database of alumni contacts. The Careers Service now gives annual subject-specific talks to each year-group. Teaching / Quality 7.10 A first sit of year 3 examinations in August for a student with special circumstances should be provided. This is preferable to awarding marks on the basis of incomplete work, which may be insufficient to demonstrate competence. [Paragraph 2.17 and 4.13] We agree in principle with this recommendation, but have repeatedly failed to receive guidance from CHSS on this issue; a College-wide policy is essential. 7.11 The College (and University) should re-examine whether the preponderance method or the arithmetic averaging method, as applied to examination classification, best reflects accurate classification of student assessed performance. This extends beyond the Classics Subject Area, to wider policy. Persuasive arguments for holding this re-examination of policy have been advanced. [Paragraph 4.14] See CHSS/UoE responses below. We note continuing concerns in 2006-7 external examiners‟ reports. 7.12 Subject Area procedures for dealing with plagiarism should be clarified. Suspected plagiarism should be referred to the School Academic Misconduct Officer, who can conduct a more experienced and visibly independent investigation. Student work should be routinely tested using electronic detection software. [Paragraph 4.4] The procedure referred to in sentence 1 is now followed. The SA will investigate the feasibility of the second part of this recommendation in consultation with the School‟s new e-learning officer. 7.13 Classics has a very effective system for peer observation of teaching, including establishing a rota and organising a schedule for peer observation. The 3 College Associate Deans for Quality Assurance and Enhancement should investigate the application of this successful approach in other Subject Areas. [Paragraph 4.9] See responses from 2 of the 3 Deans below.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Resources 7.14 Classics should take up the offer from the e-learning Team in Library User Services that a postgraduate be assigned to Classics for a period to help with its efforts in e-learning. We note that Audio Visual Technology, Information Services welcome feedback concerning facilities in classrooms. [Paragraph 3.31] This will be taken forward, again in conjunction with the new School Computing/elearning Officer. 7.15 Classics should actively seek creative and positive dialogue with the University Library, in an effort to further resolve areas of concern. We recommend that Classics take up the Library’s offer of library tours for students. We recommend that the Library budget for School use should not be subdivided below Subject Area level to any extent but consistently pooled for strategic use. We also recommend that the use of e-reserve material be further explored as a more efficient use of limited resources. [Paragraph 2.15, 3.36, 3.40 and 3.41] All accepted; and positive dialogue with the Library is well underway; in particular progress has been made towards the appointment of a half-time liaison librarian for the School of History, Classics, and Archaeology. See also EUL responses below. 7.16 The panel agrees that the library budget allocated to the Subject Area of Classics is inadequate. The panel recommends that the issue of library funding for Classics should be considered as a matter of urgency at all appropriate levels. [Paragraph 2.15 and 3.39] (a) College Library Committee has now moved to a more transparent, formula-based funding method, which will result in a 20% increase in the School‟s library budget; (b) CHSS has generously stepped in with a very substantial one-off grant to fill some of the more serious gaps in EUL‟s Classics collection. 7.17 The Classics Library Officer should co-operate with the University Library and National Library to ensure that any overlap of expensive material between the University Library and the National Library is minimised as much as possible. [Paragraph 3.42] Scope for this is limited; see Library response below. 7.18 The Subject Area should plan to have its excellent local library included in space allocation when it moves in 2010. The Head of College should be invited to visit the Classics library so that its achievements can be recognised at a high level. Consideration should be given to ensuring continuity of management as students move on and issues of security of stock. [Paragraph 2.16 and 3.34] The Head of College will be invited in the current academic year. The Head of School is in regular discussion with the architects of the refurbished premises in the Old Medical School to ensure (interalia) that all School collections are adequately housed and displayed.
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7.19 The Subject Area should revisit its decision to charge students for hard-copies of important academic material delivered via the web. [Paragraph 5.9] It is not and never has been SA policy to charge students for hard-copy of any important academic material delivered via the web. 7.20 The digitisation of slides should be completed as quickly as possible and given a high priority in resource allocation. [Paragraph 5.11] Classics now has access to Archaeology digitization facilities. 2. Response from Vice-Principal, Learning and Teaching: 7.11 The Senatus Academicus feels that it is inappropriate to revisit its decision to classify by mean mark at this stage. 3. Response from the College of Science and Engineering: 7.13 Classics good practice will be disseminated. [A response on the same recommendation was sought from CMVM, but not received.] 4. Responses from College of Humanities and Social Sciences: 7.11 The College (and University) should re-examine whether the preponderance method or the arithmetic averaging method, as applied to examination classification, best reflects accurate classification of student assessed performance. This extends beyond the Classics Subject Area, to wider policy. Persuasive arguments for holding this re-examination of policy have been advanced. [Paragraph 4.14] It is University policy to classify degrees using the mean mark. In deciding to introduce this approach, the University carefully considered the arguments in relation to classification by mean mark, through a Degree Classification Working Group. Whilst the group would have been aware of the arguments against the mean mark approach, it would also have recognised that the benefits are simplicity and consistency of practice, and reducing the likelihood of error. It will be important for the University to review the impact of classification by mean mark (and the associated introduction of the extended common marking scheme) as it beds down, and the College will take available opportunities to feed into this process. 7.3 The incorporation of the Archaeology Subject Area into the School is likely to be a major benefit to Classics. The School should be encouraged in its forward planning to achieve good integration. [Paragraph 2.13 and 4.2] The College has worked closely with the Schools of History and Classics, and Arts, Culture and Environment, to support the move of Archaeology into History and Classics. The administrative and resourcing arrangements are now in place to enable a
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 smooth transition from 2007-08. The College will continue to support the School of History and Classics to integrate Archaeology, through the annual planning cycle and other interactions. 7.10 A first sit of year 3 examinations in August for a student with special circumstances should be provided. This is preferable to awarding marks on the basis of incomplete work, which may be insufficient to demonstrate competence. [Paragraph 2.17 and 4.13] The Assessment Regulations already enable Examination Boards to take the approach advocated by recommendation 7.10, as one of a range of different options for addressing special circumstances for Honours students. Where there is satisfactory evidence of special circumstances, Assessment Regulation 13.4 (a) empowers Examination Boards to recommend to the Convener of the College Undergraduate Studies Committee that he deem the affected assessment a "null sit" which can be taken again as a first attempt. The University's Assessment Administration Working Group is currently debating the University's approach to managing special circumstances, and as part of this it has considered the approach advocated by recommendation 7.10. 7.13 Classics has a very effective system for peer observation of teaching, including establishing a rota and organising a schedule for peer observation. The 3 College Associate Deans for Quality Assurance and Enhancement should investigate the application of this successful approach in other Subject Areas. [Paragraph 4.9] Response from CHSS Associate Dean (QAE): “The College QAE Committee has encouraged Schools to further develop the use of POT, and has also kept Schools informed of progress on SQAEC‟s discussion of the issue over the past year. At its 7 May 2007 meeting, the Committee noted that the Classics TPR had commended the subject area for its good practice in relation to POT. The College will ask the subject area for further information regarding its approach, and will disseminate this to the Committee for its consideration.” 7.16 The panel agrees that the library budget allocated to the Subject Area of Classics is inadequate. The panel recommends that the issue of library funding for Classics should be considered as a matter of urgency at all appropriate levels. [Paragraph 2.15 and 3.39] The College Library Committee has agreed a transparent and responsive new approach to allocating the College Library materials budget between Schools, which it will introduce with effect from 2007-08. This model, once fully implemented, is expected to increase the School of History and Classics‟ allocation by more than 20%, in addition to the additional Library resources that will accompany the transfer of Archaeology subject area into the School. The College Library materials budget is allocated at a School level, and it is for Schools to decide how to allocate it between subject areas. The College Library Committee plans to discuss good practice in managing Library materials budgets within Schools early in session 2007-08. The College encourages History and Classics
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 to engage with this discussion, and to adopt best practices, in order to make the most efficient use of available resources for Library materials. In particular, the College understands that the subject area‟s current practice is to allocate each member of academic staff a separate Library materials budget. The subject area is encouraged to retain this budget at School or Subject area level, in order to ensure a strategic of available funds, particularly in the context of the commendable practice of teamteaching in the subject area. [SHCA addendum: the School had in fact already abandoned individual allocations, and now proposes to advertise for a 0.5 FTE Information Services Officer whose remit would include strategic purchasing.] Responses from Information Services: 7.14 Classics should take up the offer from the e-learning Team in Library User Services that a postgraduate be assigned to Classics for a period to help with its efforts in e-learning. We note that Audio Visual Technology, Information Services welcome feedback concerning facilities in classrooms. [Paragraph 3.31] The offer to lend some support for a period to the e-learning efforts of Classics is still in place: IS will need to know with whom any discussions should take place, and will expect to hear from Classics in the near future if they wish to pursue the offer. 7.15; 7.16; 7.17 These issues are largely dealt with in the „Synopsis of the Meeting on Library Issues Concerning Classics‟ which was prepared by Dr Tong, and which is appended to this letter. Some additional comments: • There is to be a review in the coming year of the overall budget allocation for library purchases, i.e. at the stage at which the University Library Committee divides the budget between the three Colleges. This will of course be in addition to the HSS review of the budget allocation model mentioned in Dr Tong‟s paper. • In order to address the need for rapid response to changes in the academic direction of Schools or subject areas, the University Library Committee has agreed that an Academic Change Fund should be created as a top-slice from the library materials budget. This fund will give a facility to address changed needs for a maximum period of two years, after which the specialised requirements would be expected to be integrated within the normal School allocation. The usefulness of this fund will depend to a large degree on good communication between Schools and IS. • To supplement the communication done with Schools by the dedicated Liaison Librarians, the post of Academic Liaison Director was established last year for each College, to cover all aspects of the work of IS: the Academic Liaison Director for HSS is Abdul Majothi, who is already known to many of you.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Many of these issues will require ongoing work, and I suggest that Classics continues to treat Dr Tong as its principal channel of communication with IS, although of course all IS staff are happy to contribute to what I hope you agree is becoming an improved dialogue.
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Formal response to Economics Teaching Programme Review
Response to Economics TPR
The TPR Report highlighted the following commendations:
The TPR Report also contained a number of recommendations:
See the discussion of feedback below, in response to the National Student Survey.
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We have refrained from introducing a second essay into Economics 1A. Given the high enrolment in Economics 1A, this would involve a substantial increase in the marking burden (particularly in conjunction with high quality feedback). It would also increase the workload for students, who already perceive the workload on Economics 1A as higher than that of other courses (workload evaluation 3.1). Moreover, traditional essay writing is a less effective approach to developing and assessing modern economic analysis than in many other social science or humanities disciplines. It also has limited relevance as a key or job-related skill, where other presentation formats, such as posters or power point presentations, are more relevant (poster and power point formats are used for assessment in a number of our courses). We are, however, working at enhancing the student learning experience in other related ways. o Giving the tutorial problem sets a more applied and less abstract flavour. o Introducing more varied and discursive elements into tutorials (now 2 hours long, which gives scope for this), while retaining a strong element of problemsolving since this is important for building a strong and rigorous analytical foundation for economics. o Providing more extensive guidance on essay- writing for economics in tutorials. This will include the use of sample essays, with marks and feedback, to provide guidance on marking standards and expectations, linked to a peermarking exercise to be incorporated in tutorials.
In preparation for the TPR we undertook a review of the maths entrance requirements of other top undergraduate economics programmes in the UK. The review indicated that an increasing number of the top programmes have maths A level as an entrance requirement. Following the TPR, we have carried out a more detailed analysis of the influence of maths entry qualifications on progression in Economics programmes. It is apparent from this analysis that students with weaker maths entry qualifications (no maths beyond GCSE, or low maths grades at AS level or Higher) are much more likely to transfer out of Economics into other less mathematical programmes (e.g. Politics, Business Studies). This is particularly the case for the student intake into Economics & Politics and Business Studies & Economics. There are, however, occasional students, with no maths beyond GCSE, who perform very well on Economics programmes (generally students with A level entry qualifications). This latter observation has, in the past, held us back from making maths at A level a firm entry requirement. We have, however, strengthened the statement in the prospectus that maths at A level or Higher is strongly recommended, and requested that HSS admissions staff place considerable weight on this when processing admissions. While this has made some difference, there continues to be a significant net transfer of students out of Economics programmes, combined with a tail of students in years 1 and 2 who are not happy with the maths element of the Economics courses. In the
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 light of this, it is probably the case that the benefits of strengthening the maths entry requirements outweigh the costs. This should improve the match between our intake and the skills and inclinations needed to succeed at and enjoy our programmes. It would also send out a positive signal about the quality and nature of our programmes, which should help to enhance the quality of the applicant pool. We have yet to reach a final agreement on this, within the Economics group, and discuss the details with HSS admissions, but the likely outcome is to move to an entry requirement, which includes Maths Higher at grade B or above, or Maths AS or A level at grade B or above (or equivalent in other entry qualifications). The planned timing would be to introduce this new requirement explicitly for the 2010 intake, while, in the meantime, reinforcing the rigour with which the current „strongly recommended‟ rubric is applied.
Recommendations 7.13 and 7.14 both relate to the training of graduate TAs. At the time of the TPR we had just introduced our own subject-specific pre-sessional induction course for graduate TAs. This pre-sessional course received strongly positive feedback from the TAs. In 2007-08 we have significantly enhanced our training and mentoring of graduate TAs, in discussion with the TLA. The key element of this is regular weekly meetings, throughout the teaching periods of semesters 1 and 2, for all members (graduate TAs and academic staff) of the teaching teams involved in 1st and 2nd year courses. These meetings are held at lunch times, with lunch provided. Some sessions involve informal discussion: sharing good practice and ideas, discussing problems, enhancing communication between lecturers and tutors etc. Other sessions have a more focussed agenda, e.g.: teamwork poster preparation, guidance and grading; essay preparation, guidance and grading; exam preparation, guidance and grading. We plan to develop a new focus in semester 2 2007-08, to prepare tutors for introducing elements of career guidance and planning into tutorials (again 2 hour tutorials provide scope for this), in line with the „employability agenda‟, and are working on this in collaboration with the Careers Service. We have difficulties making use of the HEA‟s Economics Network training programmes for graduate TAs, due to their timing, which coincides with the start of tutorial teaching at Edinburgh. Moreover, the focus of the Economics Network tends, understandably, to be targeted towards less rigorous/mathematical programmes and weaker students, than those characteristic of Edinburgh and other top Economics programmes. We have also not, to date, adopted a teaching observation system for graduate TAs, since we feel that the presence of a member of academic staff observing a tutorial would be disruptive and artificial. We will keep this under review, but see little reason to implement such a system when tutorials generally receive stongly positive feedback from students as they do at present.
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This recommendation, which we would very strongly endorse, is the responsibility of Policy & Planning at the University of Edinburgh. We feel strongly that the provision of suitable undergraduate teaching space, appropriately located, is an important element of a positive student experience. The location needs, as far as is possible, to foster a sense of belonging to and identity with Economics and facilitate informal and effective communication and interaction between academic staff and students, as well as inter-student interaction. The NSS 2007 responses (see below), particularly when interpreting the results of other institutions which received stronger evaluations than Edinburgh, reinforce the need to take this recommendation seriously.
This recommendation, which again we would strongly endorse, is the responsibility of HSS. We are pleased to note that the College has followed through on this recommendation in 2007-08.
This recommendation is the responsibility of HSS and the TLA. We have also enhanced our in-house learning support for essay-writing etc as noted elsewhere in this TRD.
This recommendation is the responsibility of HSS. We have some sympathy with the spirit underlying this recommendation, but would be hesitant to endorse the return to a regime which entailed translating JYA marks into Edinburgh-equivalent marks since experience suggests that this would be both onerous and lacking in robustness. Our limited experience to date with the new arrangement whereby JYA students‟ degrees are classified solely on the basis of their 4th year work, does not indicate any serious problems. We take considerable care in selecting students, on the basis of academic merit, as eligible for a JYA and consider this important in reducing the likelihood of problems arising. It is, however, apparent that returning JYA students experience heightened anxiety because of the increased weight that is effectievly attached to their 4th year marks.
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We have taken steps to ensure that our procedures for communicating with JYA students by email, and through use of WebCT, operate more robustly. We do not enforce our normal deadlines for choice of dissertation or supervisor selection for JYA students, to accommodate their varied teaching and assessment schedules at their destination universities. They are, however, strongly encouraged to try, as far as possible, to adhere to the spirit of these deadlines and communicate with potential supervisors by email and, where helpful, phone. While the distractions (and attractions) of time spent abroad mean that some JYA students have made little effective progress with their dissertation by the time they return to Edinburgh, this does not mean that they are out of sync with the majority of their fellow cohort of students, who have remained at Edinburgh during their 3rd year. Few students make significant progress on their dissertation before the start of 4th year, and our firm impression is that these few are as likely to be JYA students as students who have remained in Edinburgh.
The context of this recommendation is the aim to enhance the incentives for students to study effectively in years 1 and 2. We strongly endorse this aim, which we flagged up in the specific remit for the TPR. We have highlighted the role that first year performance plays in the JYA selection process in the Economics 1A Handbook and intend to reinforce this message at the start of semester 2, when providing feedback on the December exam for Economics 1A.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Appendix 10 Formal response to History of Art Teaching Programme Review Response to the Teaching Programme Review of History of Art, carried out on 1 and 2 February 2007 We would like to thank the Teaching Programme Review panel for their excellent Report. We are most grateful to them for their meticulous inquiries into the workings of History of Art, a process that has allowed the subject area to see itself in clearer perspective than is usually possible. There are a number of important changes in the make-up of the subject area and of the School taking place over the summer/autumn of 2007. The Head of Subject Area, Michael Bury, steps down, as does the Head of School, Angus Macdonald. Four new lecturers and a teaching fellow will be starting work in History of Art for the academic year 2007/8 and it may be assumed that many changes and new initiatives will follow from this. In two meetings held in April/May 2007 involving all the members of the History of Art subject area, the Report of the Teaching Programme Review panel was carefully considered, in particular the set of recommendations. A number of decisions were taken. The Head of School was consulted. Each of the Recommendations made by the panel will be taken in turn and the response recorded: 6.20 The review team recommends that the review area explore how individual research and teaching interests might cohere further in a collaborative vision for History of Art, and as a platform for increased collaboration across disciplines in the School and the wider University. [3.4] Ideas for developing collaboration between the subject areas within the School and between History of Art and the wider University are being actively considered. The new appointment of a VARIE administrator is being considered in terms of an academic appointment that could help both Architecture and History of Art. There is a proposal to appoint a new member of staff to play a key role in the new School MSc on the City.
6.21 The review team recommends that the review area explores further the potential for a more fully interdisciplinary approach to joint degree provision and to appropriate History of Art courses. [3.5] This is a matter of ongoing debate. There are strong arguments for joint degrees having serious focussed input from the different academic disciplines that make it up. If the interdisciplinarity arises from a member of staff teaching outside their area of expertise, this can create weaknesses in the quality of teaching. If collaborative teaching were to involve more than one member of staff contributing to individual teaching sessions, then the results could be valuable, but a question arises whether the extra expenditure of staff time and effort is justified.
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6.22 It is recommended that the review area explore with Architecture opportunities that might exist for collaborative teaching. [3.6] There are proposals for sharing teaching on the first and second year courses. An Honours course on Vienna around 1900 is being actively developed between History of Art and Architecture. 6.23 It is recommended that the review area consider whether collaboration in interdisciplinary teaching might deliver benefits in the context of planning for staff succession. [3.6] See 6.20 above 6.24 The review team recommends strongly that the review area consider introducing an „Away Day‟ to facilitate strategic thinking, the development of the review area‟s vision as a discipline and its planning for the medium to long term. [3.7] This has been discussed at length by the History of Art staff meeting. There is universal agreement that some kind of Away Day would be very valuable, but some scepticism about one that involves spending a night away. Childcare problems make an overnight stay a difficult proposition for some of the younger members of staff. The question will be considered further by the new head of History of Art. 6.25 It is recommended that relevant Edinburgh College of Art staff are included in any Away Day, and that consideration is given to widening the scope of the event at an appropriate point to achieve a School focus. [3.7] The inclusion of College of Art staff might present problems, but we are open to the idea of inviting certain key people from other parts of the School, most importantly those teaching architectural history. 6.26 From the baseline of its strong, innovative curriculum the review team recommends that the review area incorporates in its forthcoming strategic review, both internally and at School level, a consideration of potential new initiatives and developments. [3.8] History of Art is about to change rather dramatically, with 4 new permanent members of staff taking up post and a teaching fellow who is starting a twoyear appointment. This will inevitably lead to a great deal of new thinking. We welcome the opportunities that will bring. We have already decided to develop the possibilities of web-based teaching and of encouraging student learning through the formation of autonomous reading groups. 6.27 It is recommended that the review area and the School consider new academic appointments with a very strong focus on the maintenance of the range and diversity of its teaching, and in particular on the review area‟s vision for its academic direction. [3.9] This fits exactly with what we have agreed to do.
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6.28 It is recommended that the review area continue to make all possible efforts to widen participation in courses, insofar as the design, delivery and content of courses can affect this difficult issue. In doing so consideration should be given to broadening the approach to teaching visual culture in such a way as to attract students with little or no previous exposure to art history. [3.10] We welcome this proposal which corresponds with what are already trying to do. We are reconsidering the structure and content of first-year tutorials so as to make it easier for first-year students to gain the basic knowledge and understanding required for their future study of History of Art 6.29 It is recommended that the review area emphasise in its recruitment material and in course handbooks its concentration on confronting the original work of art within the larger context of the fundamental importance of visuality in contemporary culture. In doing so the review area should expand upon why a first-hand knowledge of visual objects, images and spaces is useful to the understanding of the history of the visual arts. [3.14] We are determined to ensure that the rationale for our emphasis on the importance of the study of works of art in the original is understood by all our students. We have added relevant material into the course handbooks, especially at first-year level. 6.30..It is recommended that the review area clarify the interrelationship of subject-specific lectures, critical thinking lectures and tutorials, and that it consider whether the integration of gallery and museum exposure with traditional lecture material requires to be more fully justified in intellectual terms in promotional material and course handbooks. [3.16] The first-year tutorial course has been redesigned in the light of this recommendation. Under the new system, the tutors will be able much more actively to help students understand the critical thinking lectures and point out how they connect with the historical lectures. They will also be able to demonstrate the importance of gallery and museum visits to the study of the subject. 6.31 It is recommended that the review area discuss the intellectual justification for the importance of experiencing art face to face and that such justification be reflected in course material and course descriptors. [3.17] There will be material included to this effect in the relevant handbooks for students. 6.32 It is recommended that the review area consider including in its lists of prescribed reading some of the more recent debates interrogating the discipline. [3.18] This will happen as part of the new arrangements for History of Art 1. All staff have been alerted to the importance of this. 6.33 It is recommended that the review area investigate opportunities for group work, and in particular autonomous learning groups, offered by the Appleton Tower workspace. [3.19]
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 We have decided that we will actively develop new teaching and learning methods. The formation of autonomous learning groups is being encouraged. 6.34 It is recommended that the review area approach the digitisation of its slide collection by defining a two-stage project, to include the physical and financial resource required, and submitting its proposal to the appropriate budget-holder. [3.22] This has turned out to be an even more complicated process than we first thought. It appears at the moment that it may not be useful to digitize the whole of the existing slide collection; what we will do is to digitize those slides that are used for lectures and seminars. This should be possible with a slight re-arrangement of the duties of our existing support staff. 6.35 It is recommended that the review area seeks to resolve the issue of quality of projection equipment by defining its key requirements and presenting a proposal to the relevant budget-holder. [3.23] We have identified the issues and have found the money to deal with this problem. New equipment has now been installed in most of the key teaching spaces. 6.36 It is recommended that a reconsideration of student academic and pastoral support at University level take into account the important potential contribution of administrative and support staff in this area. [3.25] There has been a detailed reconsideration of the division of responsibilities; in future the administrative and support staff will take on much more of the burden of routine student registration and administration. This is in line with the new University policy 6.37 It is recommended that the College of Humanities and Social Sciences consider how to improve student induction in relation to choice of outside subject and clarification of degree structures, and that good practice is shared via the relevant University committees. [4.2] This is an issue which we will address in the new academic year, once the implications of the new system of Directors of Studies is operational. 6.38 It is recommended that the review area explore ways to spread the load of the DoS role as a matter of urgency. [4.3] This has been done and the load on each member of staff reduced substantially. Once again this is in line with change in general University policy 6.39 It is recommended that the review area consider the most appropriate means of providing feedback to students with regard to support for the student learning experience and effective use of staff time. [4.5] The College QA committee is actively considering these issues: making known best practice within the College and drawing up proposals for change.
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6.40 It is recommended that the review area consider further how to recognise and assess the acquisition and use of professional skills gained during placements, drawing on good practice elsewhere in the University. [4.8] This is being done as part of the response to 6.39 above. We have sought advice from other subject areas, including Education, which has long experience with placements. 6.41 It is recommended that the review area consider the feasibility of introducing a School format of placement report, with School-level co-ordination of the placement activity, and that consideration is given to the possibility of providing students with an opportunity to observe and record their progress against key competencies. [4.8] There have been discussions with Architecture, the other subject area in the School where placements are used. We need to decide on 6.39 and 6.40 before further action can be taken on this. 6.42 It is recommended that the review area consider whether the resources committed to double marking are warranted by the outcome. [4.10] This has been discussed in a staff meeting. It is likely that the decision will be to reduce the number of examined elements subject to double marking and to replace it with monitoring. 6.43 It is recommended that the difference in degree classification systems, along with other disparities between the Edinburgh College of Art system and that of the University of Edinburgh, be discussed sooner rather than later, in preparation for a likely closer relationship between the two institutions (and see below, 5.11) [4.11] This has been done. 6.44 It is recommended that the review area give thought to appropriate phasing for its needs of teaching and examining within the semester system, and engage with University debates on the subject. [4.12] There have been guidelines offered by the College to which we can agree. We intend to adopt the following practice: end-of-semester examining for first and second year courses, with end-of-year examining for Honours. 6.45 It is recommended that the review area seek clarification on the status of degree classification rules. [5.8] This has been done 6.46 It is recommended that the review area initiate discussions with Edinburgh College of Art on further articulation of quality assurance matters. [5.11] This has been done.
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 Appendix 11 Formal response to Philosophy Teaching Programme Review The University of Edinburgh School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences Formal response to the Philosophy Teaching Programme Review that took place on 8 and 9 March 2007 The School welcomes the report and its recommendations. The School has noted with pleasure the ten commendations contained within the report. The School‟s response to the specific recommendations contained within the report is as follows: The review team considers that the sub-honours courses may be overly ambitious and recommends that the Subject Area reflects on this. The review team also recommends that the Subject Area reflects on the accessibility of its course materials, particularly at sub-honours level (7.11/3.4). The head of Subject Area, together with course organisers and student representatives have reviewed the content of the pre-honours courses with the result that significant improvements have been made to the curricular content for years 1 and 2. For the main year 1 course, Introduction to Philosophy, the Subject Area has revised the curriculum with the result that students will receive a better grounding in the methodologies of philosophy and in the history of philosophy. The year 2 courses, Philosophy 2A and 2B, have been similarly revised to produce a more coherent curriculum; their revised content ensures that students are presented with material of a level and detail that enables them properly to engage with it. These changes were implemented for the academic session 2007/8, and the feedback from students has been positive. The Subject Area will continue to systematically monitor pre-honours courses to ensure that any necessary further changes are made. Currently, the Subject Area makes course materials available via its webpages. The Subject Area will be working closely with the School to adopt a coherent approach to the provision of materials using WebCT, as well as examining how the establishment of a centralised teaching office and undergraduate resources room can improve the accessibility of course materials. The review team recommends that Philosophy reflects on the balance between core and options courses at honours level and considers whether the curriculum could be restructured to allow greater flexibility, particularly at senior honours level (7.12/3.5). The Subject Area has discussed ways of increasing flexibility for students in the options available to them at honours level. It has been agreed that the most appropriate way of increasing flexibility is to reform the honours curriculum. To this end, the Subject Area convened a committee to draw up draft proposals for reform; these proposals have been accepted by the staff and students, and the Subject Area is
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 now in the process of presenting them to appropriate committees of the Subject Area, School, and College with the aim of implementing them for the benefit of existing and incoming students in the 2008/9 academic session. The Subject Area currently teaches five compulsory 40 credit core courses over two honours years, delivered as lectures to large classes of over 100 students. These core courses will be replaced with a number of 20 credit courses taught in seminar classes of 25-30 students. Students will have a choice of twelve courses over two years and will be required to choose courses from a range of subjects. These improvements will allow the students greater flexibility in choosing what to study whilst maintaining the breadth of coverage essential to a balanced curriculum. In addition to introducing a range of new courses the Subject Area will introduce alternative methods of assessment for each course. In particular, it will reduce the dependence on end of year exams by increasing the coursework component of all courses. These changes constitute a substantial change to the philosophy honours curriculum and address a number of issues: First, by providing students with more choice at honours level and reducing the core course components they will address one the main sources of student dissatisfaction with the honours programme. Second, by introducing new courses, the Subject Area will be able to introduce more flexible methods of assessment and to provide the increased levels of feedback that students require in order to develop their learning. Thirdly, teaching classes in small groups will promote greater interaction between the staff and the students. This will address one of the key issues raised by this report, that students have a sense of staff being too distant and not sufficiently engaged with teaching. The review team recommends that Philosophy reflects on the balance of lectures and tutorials in core courses at honours level (7.13/3.6). The changes described above will eliminate the core courses with very broad curricula and a reliance on large lectures for honours teaching. The new 20 credit courses will each have a more specialised curriculum and so will allow students to engage with the subjects they study in more depth; this will allow a greater consolidation of the curriculum material. In the 2008/9 academic session, the Subject Area will pilot a series of autonomous learning groups; in other Subject Areas such groups have proved to be very successful at enabling students to reflect on and consolidate the material presented in class. The review team recommends that Philosophy undertakes a review of both physical and, in particular, electronic resources given student numbers and subsequent pressure on key texts and journals (7.14/3.7).
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 The Subject Area will move to new accommodation in Potterrrow in spring / summer 2008. As a result of this move, students will have access to a new undergraduate resources room, which will be a central location for the provision of class materials. The Subject Area and the School have discussed the provision of resources to students and as a result of these discussions it has been agreed that space will be provided for the Philosophy Society‟s library in the Philosophy and Psychology library at 7 George Square. This library gathers together course books from graduating students and will provide more copies of the most frequently used books. Accommodating this library at 7 George Square will allow full time access to the materials within a secure space. In addition, the head of School has agreed that the Philosophy Society can book one of the School‟s seminar or meeting rooms in the new building on a regular basis; this will provide them with a venue for regular meetings, both formal and informal. The Subject Area is continuing to explore the use of electronic texts. One of the research areas in the Subject Area has submitted a bid for Full Economic Cost funds for a range of titles from the Past Masters Humanities Database. These are primary texts of great use for both research and teaching. The review team recommends that teaching staff make themselves more available to part-time tutors, providing additional support for tutorials where necessary (7.15/3.8). The Subject Area has reviewed the support it provides to part-time tutors and has introduced classes for tutors on marking and general tutoring practice. In addition, the senior tutor has introduced an office hour specifically for tutors to drop in to discuss any questions they have concerning teaching matters. The Subject Area is continuing to develop its tutor support and training, in conjunction with the School and the School‟s Postgraduate Director, and will make greater use of the opportunities for tutor training provided by the University‟s Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment. Since many tutors are postgraduate students, the issue of contact with and training for tutors is also being pursued actively through the ongoing review of philosophy postgraduate provision. The review team recommends that the Subject Area ensures that School policy is being met and that course organisers meet regularly with part-time tutors (7.16/3.8). The Subject Area has adopted the policy that course organisers must ensure that tutors are aware of the aims and objectives of their courses and must meet with tutors once a semester to discuss the realisation of these aims and objectives. The Subject Area has introduced new course organiser handbooks, which include a statement of this policy. The review team recommends that Philosophy considers limiting the hours which part-time tutors are expected to devote to teaching, marking, and tutorial preparation (7.17/3.9). The Subject Area adheres to the Arts and Humanities Research Council guidance that part-time tutors who are research students will spend no more than six hours a week
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 devoted to teaching, whilst retaining some flexibility to increase these hours when it is in the interests of the tutor to do so. The reviewers recommend that there should be a rigorous system for monitoring and supporting the work of part-time tutors (7.18/3.10). The Subject Area has reviewed the support provided to part-time tutors. As a result of this review the senior tutor and course organisers now take an active role in supporting and monitoring of the work of part-time tutors. Course organisers monitor tutors both informally, by meeting with them and discussing their teaching, and formally by means peer observation of teaching and student feedback questionnaires. These questionnaires are summarised in course monitoring forms, which are returned to the Subject Area‟s head of Quality Assurance and Enhancement and the School‟s QAE committee. In addition, students are encouraged to raise any tutorial problems directly with the senior tutor or the relevant course organiser. The move to a School teaching office will allow the centralisation of many aspects of the selection, recruitment, and monitoring of tutors. The review team recommends that feedback from student review forms is transmitted back to the part-time tutors (7.19/3.10). The Subject Area has examined its QAE processes and made changes to allow a wider circulation of student feedback within the Subject Area and to tutors. Coursequestionnaire feedback is now being passed on to tutors as a matter of course, and informs the course organiser‟s course monitoring reports. The reviewers recommend that Philosophy and the School should reflect on the acceptability of some part-time tutors participating in the marking of some degree examinations (7.20/3.11). The Subject Area has discussed this issue with its external examiners who are content for the current arrangements to continue as long as the part-time tutors have the relevant experience to allow them to perform these duties. The review team recommends that the Subject Area and the School should consider whether part-time tutors are being fairly remunerated by comparison with their peers in comparable disciplines (7.21/3.12). The University is currently reviewing the remuneration of tutors and demonstrators as part of Pay Modernisation with the aim of implementing any changes for August 2008. The School and Subject Area await the outcome of this review. The review team recommends that the Subject Area reflects on whether another assessment arrangement might better achieve the intended learning outcomes (7.22/3.13 & 3.14). The Subject Area has reviewed the assessment arrangements for courses and, as part of the honours curriculum reform, has agreed to introduce assessment arrangements
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 that have a greater coursework component and so allow for provision of feedback that better achieves the learning outcomes. The review team recommends that Philosophy, along with the School and the College, considers whether the practice of taking formative assessments into account where special circumstances affect examination performance is in keeping with the current assessment regulations (7.23/3.15). The Subject Area and School have reviewed the operation of its Special Circumstances Committee and have determined that they operate firmly within the College guidelines in using formative work as evidence in special circumstances cases. The Subject Area‟s external examiners have also praised the evidence-driven approach to assessing special circumstances cases. The reviewers recommend that Philosophy reflects on ways in which to improve the provision of delivering timely, quality feedback to all students (7.24/3.16). The School Undergraduate Studies Committee, in the light of guidance provided by the University, has discussed the provision of feedback to students. The School and the Subject Area have implemented the College‟s guidelines for the provision of feedback for pre-honours courses. Feedback for honours courses is being improved as a result of the changes to assessment methods for honours courses described in response to recommendations 7.12 and 7.22 above. It has been agreed that feedback on coursework will be provided within three weeks of the submission deadline. Information to this effect will be included in course books provided in the 2008/9 academic session. The review team recommends that senior honours students are given written feedback on their long essays with a provisional grade, subject to ratification by the external examiner, to allow them to prepare for final examinations. The review team recommends that this might be achieved through the use of feedback sheets (7.25/3.17). The Subject Area has agreed to provide such feedback; the relevant course handbooks for the academic session 2008/9 will be updated to reflect this. The reviewers recommend that there should be a department-wide policy on how long students should expect to wait before they get their marked essays back (7.26/3.18). The Subject Area has agreed that, in line with College policy, essays will be returned within three weeks of the submission deadline. (See the response to recommendations 7.12, 7.22, and 7.24 above). The review team recommends that the Subject Area, and the School, reflect on how best to support students in Philosophy and overcome the gulf that clearly exists between students and some members of staff (7.27/3.19).
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 The Subject Area has reviewed the access that students have to staff members and the way in which it communicates with the student population. As a result of this review, office hours are now rigorously observed, ensuring access for students to members of staff at agreed times. The Subject Area has made efforts to publicise the availability of staff to answer questions about work and to encourage students to make use of office hours. All office hours are published in the Subject Area‟s web pages. A staff-student liaison committee, where staff and students can meet to discuss issues, has been introduced. The Subject Area has instituted a formal process for handling course monitoring reports and minutes from staff-student liaison committee meetings, which are now passed up to the School Undergraduate Studies committee and the School QAE committee as well as being circulated to all staff in the Subject Area. Additionally, the Subject Area has agreed to hold meetings of its teaching committee in the third week of each semester in order to identify and address any developing problems identified by students and staff. As part of the process of implementing the curriculum changes described above, the subject area has held a series of meetings to which honour-level students have been invited. These meetings have allowed the students to provide feedback on, and influence the changes. They have been well attended, and the initial feedback from the students has been very positive. The review team recommends that Philosophy, in conjunction with the School, seizes the opportunity presented by the College’s new approach to providing pastoral support for students, to evaluate ways of spreading the DoS workload, and indeed the overall administrative workload of the Subject Area (7.28/3.20). At the beginning of the academic year, all staff members above Grade 7 in the Subject Area became Directors of Studies and were allocated a number of directees. This was a success in terms of both spreading the administrative workload across the Subject Area and improving students‟ access to staff members. The introduction of a School teaching office will further reduce the administrative burden associated with the DoS role. A change of senior tutor has given the Subject Area the opportunity to re-assign the work associated with this role more widely across the Subject Area. The job of senior tutor will be split between honours and pre-honours and this, together with the centralisation of administration within the School, will help to reduce the administrative burden on individual staff still further. The review team recommends that the Subject Area collects student feedback on degree programmes as well as on individual courses (7.29/3.21). The Subject Area has introduced a staff-student liaison committee, which will give students the opportunity to comment on programmes as a whole as well as on individual courses. The Subject Area has agreed to distribute a questionnaire to all students in years one to three to solicit feedback about their degree programme.
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The review team recommends that Philosophy devotes more time to management of its joint honours programmes (7.30/3.22). The Subject Area is satisfied that the joint degree programmes are properly managed. The Subject Area has taken steps to address a particular concern with Modern European languages and Philosophy. The senior tutor circulated guidelines describing the arrangements for their year-abroad to all 2nd and 3rd year students on the MEL and Philosophy programme, and took steps to ensure that adequate supervision was provided, with the result that the marks achieved by MEL and Philosophy students during their year abroad have improved. Not all of the philosophy joint degree programmes require students to take logic; the Subject Area takes the view that logic is an important component of the curriculum for those (e.g. philosophy and maths, philosophy and linguistics) that do. The review team recommends that the Philosophy does not introduce the dissertation unless it introduces changes to ensure that students do more summatively assessed written work (7.31/4.1). The Subject Area is continuing to review the future provision of a dissertation option in the light of student demand. The curriculum reforms (detailed in response to recommendation 7.12 above) will result in students to undertaking more summatively assessed written work; the dissertation will mesh well with these changes. The reviewers recommend that Philosophy ensures that honours students are aware of progression between junior and senior honours in core courses and recommend that Philosophy follows School and College practice in this area (7.32/4.2). The Subject Area has reviewed this issue and is satisfied that students are properly advised. The review team recommends that the Subject Area, supported by the School, reflects on its organisation and makes greater efforts to spread the administrative load amongst colleagues (7.33/5.1). As described in response to recommendation 7.28 above, steps have been taken to reduce the administrative burden associated with the senior tutor role and to distribute the administrative workload more evenly across the Subject Area. The School, in line with College guidance, is developing a comprehensive workload model that will enable more effective management of the distribution of workloads across the Subject Area. The reviewers recommend that senior members of staff should all play a role in departmental administration and management (7.34/5.2). All senior members of staff in Subject Area play a role in Subject Area management and administration; their roles currently include head of Subject Area, postgraduate director, Subject Area research advisor, and pre-honours exam convenor.
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The review team recommends that Philosophy acts now to develop a planning strategy and to establish a healthy culture (7.35/5.2). An away day for all staff in the Subject Area took place in April at which decisions were taken to reorganise the administrative structures within the subject area, and to restructure the curriculum to provide a wider range of courses and non-exam based methods of assessment. The subject area is currently in the process of implementing these changes. Following the away day, the frequency of staff meetings has been increased form one a semester to two or three each semester. These meetings have been used to discuss how best to respond to the issues raised by this report and to plan the implementation of the changes detailed above. In addition, the subject area has constituted a teaching committee to monitor our provision of teaching, and to address longer-term strategic issues. The teaching committee has met to discuss the distribution of teaching-related administration within the Subject Area and has redistributed the tasks previously carried out by the senior tutor amongst a greater number of staff. Together, these changes will ensure the establishment of a healthy culture within the Subject Area. The review team recommends that the Subject Area and School take steps to ensure that meetings between course organisers and part-time tutors regularly take place (7.36/5.3). The matter of part-time tutors had been addressed in response to recommendations 7.16, 7.17, and 7.18 above. The team recommends that the Subject Area, with support from the School, establishes a rigorous system of peer observation of teaching for all those involved in teaching, including part-time tutors (7.37/5.4). The Subject Area has introduced a system for peer observation that includes both staff and part-time tutors. The review team recommends that the School and Subject Area maintain the commitment to a 30% reduction in teaching load for newly appointed staff, as far as possible (7.38/5.6). The Subject Area maintains its commitment to a 30 per cent reduction in teaching load for new members of staff. The review team recommends that Philosophy establish procedures for regular and systematic review of its activities. Periodic ‘away days’ could be of use in this (7.39/6.1). The Subject Area has had an away day and has increased the frequency of its staff meetings from one each semester to two or three each semester. A teaching committee has been constituted which will periodically review all aspects of teaching provision. Additional away days will be arranged in due course at which the changes
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CHSS QAE Report for 2006-07 described in this report will be systematically reviewed and further changes planned as necessary.
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