We're going up!

May 2, 2013

Spontaneous cheering broke out on campus this week as the news came through of our university’s double triumph in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2013. Not only did Poppleton rise one place in the table to position No 144, it also increased its score in the “Personal requirements catered for” category from 4.0 to 4.1.

Our Deputy Head of Student Experience, Nancy Harbinger, said that the result provided clear proof that the strategies initiated by her department were beginning to pay off.

“In the past,” she told reporter Keith Ponting (30), “there was a tendency to regard students as a scruffy lot of malingerers who got in the way of research and thought they were here to enjoy themselves.”

But now, thanks to initiatives from her office, more and more members of staff had come to realise that students were rather wonderful, thoughtful, sensitive beings who required something more than the mere experience of being a student. They also wanted a “student experience”.

She dismissed Ponting’s suggestion that the change in Poppleton’s ranking might more reasonably be attributed to “sampling error” than to the successful implementation of her -point Action Plan for Student Experience. “Those who work in the world of university metrics”, said Ms Harbinger, “know that only falls in ranking are attributable to sampling error. Any improvement in ranking is always the result of successful managerial initiatives. It’s what we like to call ‘The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Experience’.”


Another sandwich, vicar?

Mouth full of twiglets

“I’d need to take a closer look.”

That was the constrained response of our Head of Social Psychology, Professor D.K. Mundayne, to the news in Times Higher Education that Dr Frank Vriesekoop of Harper Adams University, Shropshire, was conducting comparative research into the public’s liking for Marmite.

Professor Mundayne said that the work “bore some analytical resemblance” to his own work on yeast extract. But whereas Dr Vriesekoop was concerned with whether the public liked Marmite for its own sake or because of its iconic status, Professor Mundayne was interested in the more complex social-psychological question of whether there was any causal link between a predilection for Twiglets and an ability to stand upside down for extended periods of time in a bucket of lard.


Understanding impact

Our Head of Research Impact, Gerald Thudd, has responded to “the misinformed criticism of the impact agenda” in a recent letter to Times Higher Education.

In the letter, Mariann Hardey, a lecturer in marketing at Durham University, mentions a conversation about impact with “my favourite English literature professor” who concluded: “I get more readers to one of my reviews on TripAdvisor…than my latest output in a 4* journal”.

But in his response, Thudd notes that Hardey makes “a category error” by conflating readership with impact. “In order to grasp the concept of impact,” says Thudd, “one needs to subscribe to the operationalist philosophical school which defines Intelligence as that which intelligence tests measure and Time as that which clocks measure. Once this philosophical position is adopted, it is easy to appreciate that Impact is what appearance in a 4* journal measures. It really is as simple as that.”


Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

“We regret to report the death of Professor A.K. Hollins of our Department of Marmalade Studies, who accidentally asphyxiated himself last week during a failed attempt to become disentangled from an advanced lotus position.”


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