|Date:||Monday 10 February 2003|
|Place:||UNSW's Little Bay Conference Centre|
|Preparation:||Read this web page. Make suggestions.|
|Registration:||9.15 am - 9.30 am|
|Session 1:||The problems (including NICTA)|
|Morning Tea:||10.45 - 11.00 am|
|Session 2:||Brainstorming solutions|
|Lunch:||12.45 pm - 1.30 pm|
|Session 3:||Winnowing the ideas|
|Afternoon Tea||: 3.15 pm - 3.30 pm|
|Session 4:||Committing to a plan|
[your suggestions here]
I expect that the issue of monitoring and promoting teaching quality will be discussed more broadly than this curious course director role. I'd like to see a discussion of some more systematic (and credible) quality auditing and, in particular, constructive steps to improving teaching quality in places where it is most lacking (fixing the average course isn't going to make a big impact, fixing the really bad ones will). This includes getting the word out to students that we care about quality (at the moment I don't think too many trust us on this one, and I think they are right to be sceptical, individual efforts notwithstanding).
BillW's comment: I'd like course directors, like project directors/project managers in engineering industry quality control, to be a team rather than a citizen/policeman relationship. Thus the course director could assist in appropriate cases by negotiating extra resources for the course, or by being a sounding board with whom the lecturer could discuss problems, or by reviewing assignment specs, ... Having a single course director would make this infeasible. Having multiple course directors makes it possible for course directors to bring domain expertise to the role, at least in some cases.
Note that a WD can be the difference between being on Probation and being Excluded for postgrad coursework students. Note also that NSS only checks once, and checks in early January. If people still have WD's when the Academic Standing census occurs, they can sneak through and avoid exclusion if the WD turns into a FL.
Herewith my 2 cents worth.
Course quality directors
I think this is a bad idea. Not from the point of view of whether it will work, but from the viewpoint of effective use of resources. Each course currently has a LIC. That person is responsible for assuring quality. What we seem to be now proposing is the assignment of any extra person (or persons). That is simply an inefficient use of personnel.
It should be noted that having a team responsible for the delivery of a course is a completely different issue.
I would not be against the establishment groups and mechanisms within the School to assist with the achievement of quality, but simply assigning a quality director to each course is a way of avoiding the issues, and at the expense of staff.
Whatever we do about quality, I suggest it should be based on outcomes, not on mode of delivery, lecturer flamboyance and other attributes that finally aren't important.
To this end we should know ---and somewhere it should be explicitly stated--- what outcomes we expect from each course. This means knowing the level of competence each course is intended to achieve, and how it is to be measured. What is the curriculum designed to achieve? What are the assignments designed to achieve? What do the examination questions measure?
The current agenda for the retreat lists a number of complaints mainly to do with delivery or course management. These clearly affect quality, but I don't believe that they represent the nub of course quality; that has to do with objectives.
Gernot says, "This includes getting the word out to students that we care about quality". There is only one way of demonstrating that we care about quality, and that is by delivering it.
Would this retreat be a suitable forum to discuss the possibility of having multiple lecturers teaching in a course (which is the norm in biology, for example) rather than the current common CSE model of one course one lecturer?