Managing the metrics
One of our leading psychologists, Dr Ted Thorndike, who was recently commended by the British Psychological Society after one of his experiments was found to be reproducible, is playing a leading part in the search to find a satisfactory metric for the new teaching excellence framework.
Thorndike told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that he was “only too aware of the many past failures to find a valid and reliable method for measuring teaching”. He also knew that proposals to base the metric partly upon the results of the National Student Survey had been fundamentally undermined by new research from Tim Lancaster of the University of Oxford, which showed that teaching quality as measured by the NSS had “no discernible link with exam performance”.
According to Dr Thorndike, the principal problem is the need to control for the large range of “individual variables” that interfere with an objective calculation of a lecture’s precise numerical value. These included such contaminating matters as the lecturer’s readiness to smile, engage in eye contact and display a degree of empathy with the student audience.
All such features, Dr Thorndike contends, can now be controlled following the development of the Metbox, a portable wooden shed-like construction that allows a lecturer to speak without being seen.
Although more research was clearly needed, Dr Thorndike claimed that the Metbox was already proving popular with students. Indeed, in performance trials, more than 60 per cent of surveyed students said that when compared to their present lecturer they would on the whole prefer to be taught by a wooden box.
Good morning, First years!
Our vice-chancellor has issued “a big hello and a warm welcome to the swarm of new undergraduates” and reminded academic staff of the importance of making a good initial impression. In pursuance of this end our Department of Student Experience has drawn up a list of the major topics that all Heads of Department should address in their inaugural speech to first-year students.
(Please maintain approved order)
A big hello and a warm welcome
Values and responsibilities
Library closed for refurbishment
No cycling on the covered ways
Your supervisor is on research leave
Not like the sixth form
You’re on your own
No, of course you can’t leave already
Values and responsibilities
Sorry, no time left for questions
What a pretty picture!
Nancy Harbinger, our Deputy Head of Student Experience, has no plans to emulate the latest initiative from the private New College of the Humanities by offering each of our graduating students an artistic portrait of themselves.
She readily admitted to having the greatest respect for Professor Grayling’s institution and “thoroughly concurred” with his view that at £18,000 a year the New College was very much “pushing the boundaries of what is possible in higher education”. But she felt that the free artistic portrait the college offered its new graduates was “a somewhat dubious gift”.
“One should remember”, said Ms Harbinger, “that in return for this single representation of themselves, each New College student on a three-year-course has been required to hand over 54,000 portraits of the Queen.”
Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
These are busy and stressful times for all academic staff. But that means it’s the very time when you can show your true potential. After all:
A diamond is merely a lump of coal that did well under pressure.