All manner of copiers, 24/7

July 21, 2006

Name : Andrew Young

Age : 39

Job : Lecturer and first-year tutor in computer science at Salford University and a National Teaching fellow.

Salary : I'm happy with it.

Background : I have degrees in computer science and educational-type things, and I am doing a doctorate in education. As well as teaching, I have worked in industry as a freelance computer consultant and as a research fellow. Teaching is by far the best of these in the way it challenges you (with big issues) and rewards you (with many small intrinsic rewards).

Working hours and conditions : My wife will tell you it's pretty much 24/7.

Number of students you teach : I teach a variety of modules about computer networking and security, Linux and study skills to about 400 students across all years.

Biggest challenge : Engaging first-years with the subject and with the higher education approach to retain them.

How you solved it : I talk to students about what we are doing, why we do it that way and how it all fits together, as well as their expectations, aims and fears.

Worst moment in university life : In my first lecture, I went so fast that no one could possibly have got anything out of it. In the second, I basically had to start again and do it properly.

What is your office like? My door is always open so I get a steady stream of visitors. For a techie perspective on my working space, it's probably indicative that I've got 754 e-mails in my inbox, none of which needs an urgent response!

What university facilities do you use? Never mind the leisure centre, the hub of any university department is the photocopier. We used to have a sign giving a reason why "photocopying privileges" would be withdrawn. I like the idea that photocopying is a privilege.

Do you socialise with people at the university? I am really uncomfortable in social situations and I avoid what I can.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with professionally and how do you cope with them? People are OK, but some academic regulations are bewildering in how poorly they apply to my local context. You just have to keep pushing.

Best excuses for bad behaviour : I found some plagiarism, and the student was made to redo the module. When he submitted his replacement, it was virtually identical to the original work (despite being a different task). His excuse was that this time he had copied from himself so it couldn't be plagiarism.

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