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UPDATED - In Conversation With... School of Humanities

Video and Transcript Attached - Highlights from the 'In Conversation With...' event with senior leaders from the School of Humanities yesterday.

The next event in our 'In Conversation With' series was with the School of Humanities.

The Panel consisted of:

  • Gavan Lennon – Associate Head of School - Student Experience 
  • Frank Magee – Head of School 

Questions were posed to the Panel by our school reps:

  • Faculty Officer – Jessica Isaacs
  • Vice President Activities – Gabriela Sulikowska

The event was hosted by Emily Long, CUSU Student Experience Coordinator. Below you can find just some of the conversation points from the event.

We were told that our school had agreed to not have exams this semester. Why have some module leaders been allowed to set exams for this semester anyway?

There are still some exams in some modules, but the trajectory of the school is to reduce the number of exams across the board and this process is still continuing. Historically, Humanities is a heavily exams-based subject area, but we have begun to move away from exams. There are some modules that still have exams, but these will all be reviewed in the next year. All module leaders are looking at removing exams completely. The majority of modules will not have exams. Some exceptions include modules with external exams – some of these have certain criteria that needs to be met so we are unable to change those.

There are fewer language options available this year compared to last, is there a reason for this or do you expect these options to change again in the future?

In the past, there have been lots of options to take modules in a range of languages. The issue is this can cause very small class sizes and can affect student experience. As a school, we could have loads of options, but students can sometimes have their learning affected by a lack of classmates to practice techniques with. We have made the decision to have less options but have ensure that what we have is robust and interesting. It’s a difficult decision, because we never want to take the option away from a student to learn the language of their choice. Moving forwards, we want to ensure classes are as engaging as they can be.

What is the schools process for recording accurate attendance at online sessions and monitoring the quality of assignment feedback?

Often module leaders will keep track of attendance in zoom meetings, but we understand that attendance is not the only form of engagement. It is very important, but we understand that students have different responsibilities. There are a lot of different types of engagement – we try to produce recorded engagement, and so AULA has many other ways of tracking engagement on there. Course Directors can access engagement statistics on AULA to understand who has and has not been engaging. Academics should also have available office hours, so that students have different ways to be able to check in with them. We are also rolling out a new team of Student Success coaches, who are there to assist academic colleagues and students and signpost them to any resources they may need. In terms of feedback, the best way to get feedback would be to talk to your module leader. All courses differ. We do have robust systems to monitor feedback to ensure that what students are receiving is as informative, transparent and fair as possible. We also have external examiners who often comment on the quality of the feedback that students receive. There are a number of measures to ensure that students receive the support to allow them to succeed.

Will the school be offering any educational trips or visits for students this year?

The school has a history of student study trips. This has been hugely impacted by the pandemic. Over the past couple of weeks, we have had domestic trips running; they are back running across a number of our courses. We are back on the project of running these trips and there will be more as the year rolls on. We, as a school, are really excited by this and we know that they are popular amongst students.

For more information on the ‘In Conversation With…’ events, there is a full schedule available here. If you missed this event, a full transcript of this can be found here. If you would like to watch the event back, please find the video below.


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