Last nights’s council saw Vice Provost Linda Hogan outlining the trajectory of the Trinity Education Project, a debate on bell-curve grading and updates on proposals for student counselling staffing and the introduction of a sun-room in Goldsmith Hall.
Trinity Education Project
Having culminated analysis from research beginning in 2013, the Trinity Education Project is now beginning to pull together a plan for implementing the project across several strands of the undergraduate program.
The research carried out over 18 months included student module assessments, focus groups, external surveys from second-level institutions as well as visits to peer universities. Hogan also stated that the Trinity Access Program, while not directly affected by the scheme, has helped inform the project regarding problems adhering to assessment and progression: “One of the major issues tends to emerge from the transition from second-level to university.”
The project aims to have the optimised program in place for August 2018, with a strong focus on streamlining the administrative system, which Hogan acknowledged can seem “impenetrable” for students who come up against it. Course-specific learning spaces are also a priority. Molly Kenny, education officer, was an attendee of the research trip to the University of Birmingham and the University of Manchester, with one of the aims focusing on learning spaces and ensuring they are “technology-rich and appropriate to students today”.
Other areas to the undergraduate program which will be remodelled include a diversified criteria of assessment and teaching styles not solely restricted to numeracy and literacy skills; providing more internship opportunities and alleviating challenges involved in international studying applications; and overhauling of current alternative pathways to higher education, which are currently discordant and overly-complex. Hogan encouraged the wider student body to participate in the project, highlighting that eight roundtable consultation sessions will take place across four venues on the 16 March, with space for roughly 1000 students and staff to contribute their ideas and concerns.
Council renewed a motion on making council documents readily accessible to the wider student body. It was proposed by Alice MacPherson, deputy AHSS convener, who stated it was crucial in order that topics to be discussed at council be communicated to students via the weekly email a week in advance to allow for “people [who] don’t like, or feel [council action] doesn’t represent them” to voice their opinions prior to the vote, rather than after the fact.
A proposed motion to facilitate easier access to the Buttery for nursing students was passed, along with a motion to raise funds for the National Graves Association as part of the Easter Rising Centenary celebrations. A failed motion put forward to oppose the implementation of bell-curve grading initiated debate at the council. The motion was proposed by Laura, Natural Science Convenor, on the grounds that the use of such a system in small-scale classes would work to the detriment of higher-grade students.
Molly Kenny, education officer, responded stating that grading on a curve is not currently implemented but may be a future consideration. However, the motion failed largely on the grounds that an outright opposition was not warranted, given that some instances, where a majority of students fail an exam, grading on a curve is justified. MacPherson added that a separate motion on transparency in marking practises should be brought before the council to address some of the concerns involved.
Lynne Ruane defended implementing the Higher Education Found for a proposal to employ trainee counsellors for the student counselling service, in order to counteract funding problems in student services. Speakers from the audience felt this funding should be coming from College but Ruane responded that the “years and years” it would take lobby for such would cause the service to “erode away”. She added that College, when pressed to focus fund-raising events around such, deemed such a focus would be “unattractive when looking for donors”.
With regard to the general election, Ruane encouraged students to look at the SU’s site for information on candidates and voting procedures which is being organised by communications and marketing officer Aifric Ní Chríodáin. She added that Shane Rice, JCR President, will be organising a group walk to pooling booths on Friday for Trinity Hall residents. She is also currently working to ensure that students will not be docked marks for not attending required classes on Friday. Conor Clancy, welfare officer, urged students to challenge the “chasm” between apathetic and engaged student voters by discussing the election among peers in the last days before the vote.
Clancy confirmed that delays in the plans for a sunroom, to be located beside the JCR café in Goldsmith hall, came from the plans being in excess of the budget; the original plan cost of €77,000 jumped to €105,000 upon final estimation. He stated that the plans will go ahead after the revision of some its elements, but proposed items such as the projector, bean bags and access to plugs will still remain. A map of on-campus student spaces – for casual study, leisure and dining – is also set to be published by the welfare office.
Katie Cogan, entertainment officer, unveiled the Trinity Ball promotional video, with the most noticeable reaction coming from the Maher twins’ cameo. She defended the live-streaming of the results party, which garnered around 7,000 views, despite the fact that comments had upset some attendees. In response to concern surrounding late and missed workers’ reports by her and other members of council, Cogan expressed regret: “I do take it on myself to take more time to do my office reports.”
To read our feature on the Trinity Education Project, click here.