Smile! You're in tutorial

May 15, 2008

Our Deputy Head of Student Experience, Nancy Harbinger, has responded angrily to the suggestion that Poppleton's introduction of ten minimum contact hours per week for each student has been vitiated by the simultaneous decision to increase the average size of undergraduate tutorials to .

"What matters," she told our reporter Keith Ponting (30), "is the quality of the time that staff and students spend together. And that is why I am introducing new minimum quality standards in all tutorials and seminars."

She went on to explain that under her new "interaction metrics" system, each student would be guaranteed the following "affective reinforcements" in any one hour of contact:

  • At least two correct name checks
  • Four nods of encouragement
  • Three friendly smiles
  • Two raised thumbs
  • One "high-five"

When asked if it was appropriate to "reward" students who failed to participate with such marks of approval, Ms Harbinger claimed that her new system was a welcome bulwark against favouritism.

"The last thing we want to do in a democratic university is to allow excellent students to run away with the impression that they are being singled out for praise. Under this new system, everyone is assured of an equal and quantifiable measure of encouragement."


Dear Sir,

I hope you don't mind me writing to you, but I am a second-year student in the Department of Palaeontology for Business and I couldn't help noticing when I read a recent edition of The Poppletonian that I found in the Bill Rammell snack bar that you had very little in your pages from actual students.

Surely, a university is as much about students as staff, so why is there this lack of balance? Staff aren't the only ones with "cultural capital". You could, for example, have a regular column called "A Student Speaks" or "The Student Voice". And perhaps some more pictures of students doing things and something about recent student successes like the recent win by our five-a-side team over Poppleton City University.

Please remember that students are people, too!

Yours sincerely,
Simon Monstrance (second-year)

The Editor responds:

Thank you for this, Simon. On the whole it was a well-constructed letter, although your argument rather lost its way in a mass of detail in the second paragraph. Your reference to "cultural capital" also suggests a serious misreading of Bourdieu. Otherwise fairly promising. B(+)


(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

You have been criticising yourself for years, and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.

(As soon as I read this, I duly said to myself "Well done, Jennifer" and straightaway felt much more empowered. Worth a try!)


Dr F.R. Beavis of our English and Related Studies Department is urgently seeking a second marker for his third-year module on the early novels of Samuel Richardson. He tells us that he was perfectly happy with Dr Rebecca Stride, his double marker on this course in previous years, but she had now decided to become second marker on Dr Geoffrey Comstock's second-year middle-period Pinter module.

"I wouldn't have minded so much if she'd had the decency to tell me to my face," he told The Poppletonian.

"But the first I knew of her decision was when I walked into the SCR last Thursday morning and found her openly reconciling with Dr Comstock."

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