‘Taxing’ lectures led to sacking, tribunal told

Former Imperial College lecturer claims low student satisfaction scores led to her dismissal

March 6, 2014

A former materials science lecturer at Imperial College London has claimed that low satisfaction scores resulting from her decision to stretch her students in classes ultimately led to her being dismissed.

Yeong-Ah Soh is pursuing an employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal, racial discrimination and suffering detriment for whistleblowing.

Dr Soh claims that after receiving low student satisfaction scores for her first set of lectures at Imperial in 2010, she was told not to lower the level of the teaching.

Jason Riley, director of research and professor of materials electrochemistry at Imperial, told a hearing in London last week that “you can teach to a very high level as long as you have engaged the students. In this case, it appears there was an engagement problem.”

Professor Riley said: “She wasn’t told not to lower [her level]. She was told the level and intelligence of our students wasn’t the issue.”

Dr Soh also claims that high student evaluation scores for lecturers were related to expectations of high marks in exams. It had been to illustrate this point that she had alleged that a colleague, David McPhail, who gets high satisfaction scores for his conductivity lectures, in essence told his students what would be in the exam.

Dr McPhail, a reader in surface analysis, admitted that, one year, he had told his students that a key equation would be in the exam to ensure that they all knew it. “But saying [that] will come up would be like saying to my daughter every time she has a driving lesson that a car will be involved,” he said. “There are 100 different ways I can ask them something related to the equation.”

The college deemed the allegation against Dr McPhail vexatious, and dismissed Dr Soh partly on this basis.

The hearings were due to conclude at the end of this week.

paul.jump@tsleducation.com

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder