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Are University's becoming degree factories? or is it just mine? Watch

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    Have universities become nothing more than a production line? Or is it just the one I attend?

    I will give several examples on what my course has become.

    A 15 credit final year module used to be 50% examination. When the failure rate for this module was high, the examination was scrapped. A series of weekly multiple choice tests took its place. Each test was multiple choice and had 5 questions on the previous lectures material. Basically only testing your short term memory. Most students applauded this due to the ease of the assessment.

    Something similar happened on another final year module worth 30 credits. It used to have an exam worth 60%. This was replaced by 5 multiple choice tests. To make matters worse the module leader would void questions that more than 80% of the students got wrong. Increasing the average at the expense of the 20% who got the hard questions right. One test was even scrapped completely at the end of the year! He felt that the average of the other tests was good enough and he increased the weighting of the other 4! Even a pro vice chancellor condoned this.

    A first year module has a series of practicals, these were were not assessed. But a report on the practical work was worth 50% of the module. When the report had low marks, a multiple choice test with the same weighting took its place. Future cohorts could then get high marks without even attending the practicals.

    A second year module in pure mathematics was run by a different department. It had the highest failure rate. My faculty told them to turn it into a 100% coursework module. The other faculty scoffed at the idea as they are in one of the top 10 for physics and does not want another department to being them down. It still has the highest failure rate to this day.

    At least the multiple choice tests involved writing an answer, even if its a single letter. Now a new automated system has been introduced for future cohorts. Students will now use an electronic handset for these weekly tests! Fully automating the assessment process.

    Is this just my university or is it happening everywhere? My course is engineering based, but the people getting firsts are merely those who have a short term memory for a weekly test. Not those who can solve a complex mathematical problem or produce a technical report. Even the dissertations are becoming literature based, instead of being based around design or analysis.

    So is this happening everywhere in the UK? Are universities now officially degree factories?
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    Universities*
    Factories*
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    Thanks

    Yeh Ive written about 2 essays in 3 years, i forgot how to spell, its not like i needed it. Spelling on a multiple choice test is not important ay?
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    (Original post by The blackfrost)
    Thanks

    Yeh Ive written about 2 essays in 3 years, i forgot how to spell, its not like i needed it.
    So, what are you studying?
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    Engineering. Or at least that is what I thought it was.
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    Damn, where the hell is this, I went to Notts Trent and I appreciate it's ex-poly but multiple choice tests sound insane. I imagine engineering content is harder to learn, but being assessed on what you learn each week in a multiple choice test, that doesn't sound right? We had one assessed multiple choice aspect for a 10 credit module in year 1, but I'd not expect a module to base its assessment on them?

    In some ways it went the other way for us, depending on your strengths. The final year weighting for the dissertation was increasing to 40 credits (of 120) and I've seen other posters say they could hand in a rough draft or have their supervisor look at sections and comment on improvements, or say hand a 1000 word sample for a critique, we had none of this, supervisors were not allowed to actually give you direct feedback on your written work.

    Then also a 20 credit module used to be 50% exam, 50% assignment. However they decided to base each 20 credit module on only one assessment. Either one exam or one assignment, if you screwed that up, you were ****ed. One module did allow us to create an essay plan for their assignment, so we knew if our idea/approach was wrong, but the other did not give any support.

    One exam was on an entirely new module made up that year that was compulsory, because of this there were no past example questions and the lecturer did not wish to set us questions which would replicate the sort of stuff we'd face in the exam.

    Obviously it could be that you're making it out to be easier than it is? Because realistically I would expect engineering at a university with a respectable place in the league tables for it to be much more challenging then what I faced doing Zoology.
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    Supportive mum. Id say this describes what it is.
    http://www.family-games-treasurehous...mory_game.html

    Joey I am glad to see you know where i am coming from.

    I had better not tell you which University it is as my relationship with them is currently a double edged sword, if you look at my other posts you will know why!

    Its an ex poly just like trent and is located in the south east, thats all i am saying.

    I see where your coming from with the single assessment modules as well, you have all your eggs in one basket. That is the same with another module which had a single assignment, you had to pass that and the exam. So if you made one mistake on the assignment thats it.

    Theres a difference between difficulty and having a huge weighting. I expect its different in oxbridge, who probably have something similar to that assignment each week. They are known for being rigorous. Does not have to be harder but ensures a student's abilities are tested fully. Probably at the expense of a higher workload. More work but more opportunities to prove yourself

    To use engineering terms, accuracy is different to precision.

    As for the multiple choice tests. It does sound easier and many students who sat them would agree. But its not testing somebodies abilities as an engineer or any subject for that matter. There is more to being good at something, than just remembering facts.

    The universities justification is that the class average is higher. Thats all they seem to care about.

    It didn't benefit all though. For one of the modules, the multiple choice tests happened monday mornings. Unfortunately for me, I was working sunday evenings on a night shift with no prior knowledge of it. I knew id be sluggish on monday morning but i didn't know I was going to be assessed every week.

    Yes the course takes priority over work, but you can plan your time around end of year exams and assignment deadlines, for weekly tests its somewhat different.

    I know most people forget about what they learned in there exams when it comes to future situations. Revision does not stay in your head. But you could at least half remember what you wrote about or what problem you solved. If you have being studying all semester its not going to vanish overnight.

    But if you only need to remember a few facts for a week, your certainly going to forget it.
    I cant remember anything for that module now, it didn't stay in my head. Hows that going to be useful, for future use of, what i learned?

    Plus I bet you have been in a situation where you thought you had done terribly in an exam but you got a good grade. Probably because even when you get an answer wrong, you can still get marks for how you presented your argument, or how you did your working out. You may have still demonstrated that your understanding was worthy. Or that you applied your knowledge to an unfamiliar situation well. Thats impossible for multiple choice its all or nothing!
    I thought a degree is a demonstration of your skills, not just your knowledge. Especially in engineering with its mathematical and design aspects.

    One thing that was noticeable was those who got firsts in the multiple choice, failed the maths module. Some students now graduates can't even do basic calculus covered at A level, but they are meant to be engineers!

    But the university is happy they have a nice production line going. The external examiner wasn't happy with the tests though, but seeing as the uni has invested 1000's in this new automated test system, I doubt they will act on his comments

    As for what your saying about the supervisor's. In my university it varied, some supervisors practically told you what to write, others refused any input. Safe to say it was done unfairly. one guy even drank with his supervisor before the VIVA(presentation on your work) the following day!

    Its also safe to say that the people who did literature based projects got higher marks than those of us who actually chose to design/experiment on things. But unfortunately a 2.2 on a project that involves design manufacture and wind tunnel testing, is regarded as less effort, than a first in a project where your merely writing about how how 2 different cars compare to there owners!

    Its basically become monkey see, monkey do, and monkey can get a first. Follow the pecking order in the chicken run.
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    Which type of engineering?

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    All of them are 'degree factories'.
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    You guys in the UK have it easy. Why does only the last 1/2 years of your degree count towards your final result? Because the poor lil freshers like to party in their first year and surely can't be expected to study as well can they? That system makes me sick. I am going out on a limb here and saying that 50% of UK degrees are worthless because of this, migt as well make it a 2-year degree. I did my first degree in France, then came to do an MSc at Notts and guess what? Pretty much every UK student was balls, what a surprise. In the real world undergrad degree years are weighted equally and masters degrees are 2 years, not 1. I am as English as the next person but that won't stop me from criticizing the higher education system in the UK. The OP has a point, the students here constantly revel in how "amazing" they are like "ooh look at me I am top 50 in the world, I must be world class" NOPE, the students are 50% wastemen who really don't deserve to be at university, 20% are fair enough in my book and the rest are foreign.
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    Yes, especially since its been uncovered universities are going into deals with book publishers. The whole university experience is just to milk you. As Adam Smith said (requote) once everyone has a degree it is worth little or no value.
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    I go to a Uni near the bottom the table and yet one of our final year exams is worth 100% of 20 credits, we are also told at the beginning of each module how the year before fared, so that we know to work harder for the hard modules. As far as I'm aware the modules depend on what lectures are available and not the difficulty of the content. We have never had a multiple choice test but do have the occasional presentation, in fact one of modules next year has a 40% weighting for a presentation.
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    Dan you have a point. why not make it 2 years? I mean the long summer is too long to sit on your arse and is too short to return home for a temp job as a lot of employers don't want to hire somebody who's just around for a few months. I on the other hand stayed in my university town and made my part time job full time. But with everybody else rushing home to mum and dad there was nobody to hang around with, was boring as hell.

    The 4 month summer break may as well be another semester.

    I dont agree with first years counting though. one must get a feel for the subject. gives others a chance to drop out if they don't like it.

    Having said that my first year was pointless, all but one module was less complicated than the stuff covered at A level. Making it count still wont stop the media students partying throughout the halls when they finish in april when people doing harder courses have exams though may and june. I am glad they didn't count because i hardly got any sleep b4 em.

    Yes i said exams despite my first post. I had more formal exams in my first yr than my final, as these radical changes evolved throughout my time there.

    I am not sure what you faced in france I am sure it was more rigorous. Most people misunderstand that term, doesn't mean it has to be harder but to test people properly. Get the right graduates with the right results.

    But whats going wrong in the UK is that universities seem to be judged on the pass/failure rates. As soon as this becomes unimportant then things can be done properly.

    My academic appeal against the alteration of the multiple choice tests was rejected with the class average being the only justification. Like it was my fault I was one of the few students who got the voided question right.

    I may have disagreed with you about the wastemen b4 Dan, but that was b4 I met a Geography graduate, who could not find Iceland on a map. Somethings wrong!

    Oh and a PHD graduate was rejected from a lecturer position due to his lack of enterprising experience. They may as well of said "Teaching, no thats the last thing you need to worry about as a lecturer, its about doing business deals". So book publishers really don't surprise me Bill!

    Adam Smith understood supply and Demand, everybody knows what happens to the price during a surplus! Well that price is the graduate salary, which I no doubt have to share with another engineering graduate who can't do calculus.
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    (Original post by wildrover)
    I go to a Uni near the bottom the table and yet one of our final year exams is worth 100% of 20 credits, we are also told at the beginning of each module how the year before fared, so that we know to work harder for the hard modules. As far as I'm aware the modules depend on what lectures are available and not the difficulty of the content. We have never had a multiple choice test but do have the occasional presentation, in fact one of modules next year has a 40% weighting for a presentation.
    A University at the bottom of the tables, not using multiple choice! wow!! In a few yrs my uni will take its place! they have already dropped 10 places since i started.
 
 
 
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