Present: John Shepherd (chair), Paul Compton, Oliver Diessel, Bruno Gaeta, Rex Kwok, Kathy Mitris, Sri Parameswaran, Arthur Ramer, Ken Robinson, Malcolm Ryan, Jingling Xue
Apologies: Richard Buckland, Bill Wilson, Wayne Wobcke
Use of Week 0 - John Shepherd
The attendees were asked about any activities that had/hadn't worked as an effective use of time in O-Week. This was considered in light of the fact that students had not been mad sufficiently aware of the need to attend during O-Week (something we need to improve for 08s2). Some of the points raised:
Some faculties/schools did absolutely nothing in Week Zero; CSE at least ran an introduction to the CSE Labs, and some courses ran introductory lectures/sessions to answer questions about howthey would run, etc. For example, KenR ran introductory lectures for COMP2111/SENG4921 in week zero.
Lab 0 is a very useful exercise, but needs to be better advertised, especially to incoming Postgraduate Coursework Students.
The question was raised as to whether the School needs to have aconsistent approach across courses for Week Zero. JohnS suggested that every course should run its introductory lecture/Q+A session in Week Zero. An unresolved question arising from this was how to organise lecture theatre bookings for that week, given that the timetabled bookings don't start until week 1.
Another suggestion for Week Zero, especially in first semester, was for each Program Director to have a Q+A session with students enrolled in their program [doesn't this already happen after the O-Week Welcome?]. Program Directors might also be available for assisting with enrolment advice during Week Zero.
Issues in Setting Up Courses 08s1
Some of the problems mentioned (not necessarily related to setting up):
Too many teaching days lost to public holidays (Easter, Anazac Day); especially bad in a 12 week semester if your lecture is on Friday.
With centralised timetabling, we seem to have lost flexibility for making changes to non-lecture classes (e.g. trying to changes labs to more appropriate times after discovering clashes with other courses). The CSE Office view on this: make sure classes are ok before students enrol (i.e. when provisional timetable is released), and overestimate enrolments rather than underestimate (very diffuclt to add classes; removing them if not needed is easier).
Students often complain about multiple assessments due at the same time; look at creating an assignment register to help avoid this. Also, perhaps we need a more uniform policy for extension of assessed items; certainly no extensions should extend into StuVac (as has happened in the past).
LTPIs: Course Outlines, CATEI Reports
CSE Course Outlines were generally late and didn't quite meet the requirements specified as part of the LTPI exercise. BrunoG noted that BABS provides a template to assist Course Convenors in preparing thieir Outlines. Should CSE do something similar? (Note that WebCMS already provides a near-conformant template for people that want to use it ... hardly anybody does, so it's not clear how successful a School-supplied template would be in CSE).
JohnS reported that CATEI Reports to HoS will be done online from 08s1 using a system developed by IARO (the same people who run the CATEI system). This replaces the in-house system that we used in 07s2 (and seems to have borrowed some of its interface from the in-house system).
PaulC reported that the Engineering Faculty had lost out on $200,000 worth of Teaching Performance Funding. However, this seems to have been based on criteria applied privately by The Centre, so there was little feedback on which to base performance improvements.
Program Coherence - John Shepherd
PaulC suggested that this might have been carried out as part of the Accreditation Exercise. One specific coherence issue was noted: the pre-requisites for the first three COMP courses (1917,1927,2911) need to be clearer in the online sources (e.g. UNSW Handbook). One specific pre-req problem relates to students who completed first year computing pre-2006; they covered quite a different syllabus to the current cohort and there appears to be no neat way of re-integrating into the new computing streams.
It was suggested that one way of improving information to students about the precise background expected on entry to each course might be to specify it in terms of assumed knowledge rather than courses.
4th-year Theses - John Shepherd
JohnS proposed a new approach to assessing Theses based on coarse grading rather than fine-grained marking (claiming that it would be easier to do and more reliable). The proposed model was discussed (in fact the proposal contained several alternative models) and generally agreed upon. OliverD suggested that rather than using the marks that came out of the grade-mapping process directly, that there should be an examiners meeting where thesis marks are "normalised" relative to previsous years. [The model was subsequently refined after discussion with the CSE Office and HoS; the revised version is available, and is currently being trialled.]
PaulC also requested that all CSE Theses must have at least one CSE academic involved (either as supervisor or assessor). [This was not able to be achieved this semester due to (a) resistance from some NICTA staff, (b) specialised nature of some Biomedical theses (nobody in CSE familiar with the area)]
Any other business
PaulC reported that there was going to be a meeting between representatives of CSE, FBE and COFA to sort out a new course for the new Architecture program, with potential for being used by students in Arts degrees. [The new course COMP1400 Programming for Designers has been approved by the Faculty and will be taught in 08s2 by Malcolm Ryan. It is based on the Alice programming language and the hope is that it might prove attractive students from both FBE and from Media Studies in FASS. The anticipated enrolment once the word spreads is estimated at over 100; this will not particularly take students away from our other intro-level courses (e.g. ENGG1811) since it is targetted at non-Engineering students.]
The meeting closed around noon.
Thanks to Colin Taylor for taking the minutes.
School of Computer Science & Engineering
The University of New South Wales
Sydney 2052, AUSTRALIA