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Are Degree Grades Worth the Same? - Consistency and Dumbing Down Watch

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    (Original post by charlotterg5)

    But essentially, you can't compare degrees from different universities because a lot of the time they're not comparable, so, going back to the thread question, degrees can't be worth the same from different universities.
    Personally, I think the tutorial system and type of assessments throw a spanner in the works when comparing Oxford (and Cambridge) to most other universities. Having studied at a large university and experienced very little contact time, and having studied at a medium-sized university and had regular tutorials and plenty of contact time, I can honestly say that the tutorial system is for me. However, I'm also my stronget in course-work over exams, but as far as I am aware, Oxford mainly assesses through final exams at the end of the degree. I don't think this would suit me at all.
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    (Original post by Blooroo)
    I see what you are saying. I suppose the question is whether our (your?) responses are justified, or just knee-jerk reactions inherited from popular culture that is currently heavily shaped by people who never studied when the new universities existed as universities. For careers such as teaching new universities have exceptional employment rates (some being 100% or close to it). This smashes the employment rates of many art and humanities graduates from Oxford and is higher than Oxford-trained teachers. From this perspective, to question the value of a degree from the position of an employer forces us to ask which employer specifically.
    I think that essentially, because we cannot be sure that degrees are comparable at different institutions unless we actually went to both of them (and even then there'd be some level of bias), you are right in that popular culture and things like league tables play a big part in public perception of an institution. I don't think that's right, but there doesn't seem to be much that can be done about it :/

    Hence an Oxford degree, if you asked a random cross section of the public, would be "worth" a lot more than a Brookes one.
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    (Original post by Blooroo)
    Personally, I think the tutorial system and type of assessments throw a spanner in the works when comparing Oxford (and Cambridge) to most other universities. Having studied at a large university and experienced very little contact time, and having studied at a medium-sized university and had regular tutorials and plenty of contact time, I can honestly say that the tutorial system is for me. However, I'm also my stronget in course-work over exams, but as far as I am aware, Oxford mainly assesses through final exams at the end of the degree. I don't think this would suit me at all.
    Ahh, I'm the complete opposite. I'm a complete ****-up when it comes to coursework, but because I'm jammy, I tend to do well in exams
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    looks like when our generation are doing something better than the previous one, it seems to be "easy".
    They can just :plz2:
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    (Original post by NDGAARONDI)
    Exactly. I think the university you're referring to for teaching is the University of Chichester. Commonly regarded as a post-1992 university despite having some history dating back to the 1800s. It depends what you want out of a degree, there are parts of the syllabus to a history degree at Oxford that are useless for secondary education. You'll get used to people using employers to mean everyone and anyone, if you haven't already done so. Sometimes it's a synonym for someone who pays high wages only like Magic Circle firms or investment banking. People who think like this will no doubt work until they die thinking their life is pointless without a job, so will work beyond retirement age because they have nothing better to do.
    Unfortunately, I have had the privilege of being around long enough to see the typical turf wars that break out. This thead will no doubt become on of them. Oxford on the left as the best, Oxford Brookes on the right as the worst, and the rest shall fight it out to determine which side they are on.

    With regards to the teaching reference, I wasn't aware Chichester was in the boat (I've not really had a close look lately). My girlfriend went to Winchester and it was a similar pedigree to Chichester - very old teacher training college with new university status. She loved it there and saw all her teaching friends obtaining jobs shortly before or soon after graduation. I believe some of the midland/northen teacher training providers do exceptionally well too.
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    Come to think of it, I fear that this thread will turn to sh*t tomorrow so I'll probably unsubscribe at some point. Please quote if you are addressing me.
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    *******s.
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    (Original post by Blooroo)
    lol

    Oh dear! I wonder if this side of his personality came through in the interviews. If his prospective lawyers were educated elsewhere I doubt they would be in awe of his Durham badge of honour (which, I'm sure, is a badge to be proud of, but not be arrogant about...).

    I sometimes wonder how Durham was perceived by A-levellers a few years ago when it was much lower in the tables. At the moment Exeter seems to be gaining recognition whilst Nottingham and Bristol are sometimes slated (to my surprise). This place seems to be very fickle and I wonder if this extended to Durham when it was 10-20 places lower.
    Hmm not sure. I guess a select few are inadvertently elitist because of the pressure to distinguish themselves from other graduates due to the sheer amount of higher education participation? I've said in the past that universities help fuel his by putting recent 'achievements' from league tables on their website. Was disappointed when Durham did this but the same can be said with research ratings. Why do undergraduates on here target institutions with such an emphasis on decent research? Made a thread on this but saw peer-reviewed studies that showed no relationship between quality of research and quality of teaching/course. Benefiting from the specialist areas of lectureres are not the sole exclusive to courses that are run by researchers in intensive departments. In fact, some might not care for student satisfaction than they should.

    These days it's best just to look at course content, format and style of assessment and classes, and what you want out of the degree. Perhaps the environment of the surroundings and what the local city/town has to offer. I treat most informal extra-curriculars with suspicion though. I mean toastie rep?

    You haven't mentioned the Warwick cult on here yet! :p: The issue with Durham is that very few of us on TSR post outside of the Durham section. If we do it's minimal. If not it's because of we're football regulars, like myself and one other. So I think this removes any potential to university brand name indoctrination.
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    (Original post by charlotterg5)
    Clearly that was a fairly superficial statement, I mean, there's so many arguments you could make ie. 'were the levels of depth comparable?' etc. I was just saying that from my observations of two people doing the same course at two different universities, my friend at Oxford has no life and works all the time, and my other friend, though they still work, seems to have a smaller workload. Therefore, arguably, it'd be fair to say that the Oxford guy works harder. Obviously I am by no means an expert or anything

    But essentially, you can't compare degrees from different universities because a lot of the time they're not comparable, so, going back to the thread question, degrees can't be worth the same from different universities.
    I know what you mean. I just don't even think that 'workload' and 'hard work' are interconnected. About 98% of other students on my course probably sat in the library for longer periods than I did, and most of them read more than I did. In fact, a lot of them were more prepared than me for seminars. But I learned to work in different ways. Primarily, I thought about my essays all of the time. I would literally be thinking about essays so much that I'd think of little else. And I'd honestly say that over my degree I worked as hard as I possibly could -- physically, but more importantly for me, psychologically.

    By the way, sorry for my attacks. I basically agree with you overall. You're just helping me to develop my points!
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    It's a shame that the media couldn't discuss the positive reasons for increased pass rates, such as better teacher training, or experiened teachers learning how best to teach students in order to pass exams, or universities improving the quality of lecturing and tutoring as a consequence of quality assurance schemes, peer review, internal training etc etc.

    For many years education providers in the UK have tried to improve the quality of education delivery. Surely, this has had SOME impact?
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    (Original post by Blooroo)
    With regards to the teaching reference, I wasn't aware Chichester was in the boat (I've not really had a close look lately). My girlfriend went to Winchester and it was a similar pedigree to Chichester - very old teacher training college with new university status. She loved it there and saw all her teaching friends obtaining jobs shortly before or soon after graduation. I believe some of the midland/northen teacher training providers do exceptionally well too.
    Ah, it might have been Wincester then. Regardless, it had good 'job prospects' for the purpose it was built for. I think people use these distinctions at times to suit their existing prejudices. There was a time when Queen Mary wasn't really regarded on here because of the local surroundings perceived not to be up to standards, but it didn't stop Nottingham being creamed over. From September I'll be living in Gilesgate and I have already visited the place to get to shops and I know I'd rather live in Mile End. I've been to both places enough. Doesn't stop Durham for being **** though does it? Bit silly really.
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    I'd imagine electronic academic databases being very helpful also.
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    (Original post by NDGAARONDI)
    Hmm not sure. I guess a select few are inadvertently elitist because of the pressure to distinguish themselves from other graduates due to the sheer amount of higher education participation? I've said in the past that universities help fuel his by putting recent 'achievements' from league tables on their website. Was disappointed when Durham did this but the same can be said with research ratings. Why do undergraduates on here target institutions with such an emphasis on decent research? Made a thread on this but saw peer-reviewed studies that showed no relationship between quality of research and quality of teaching/course. Benefiting from the specialist areas of lectureres are not the sole exclusive to courses that are run by researchers in intensive departments. In fact, some might not care for student satisfaction than they should.

    These days it's best just to look at course content, format and style of assessment and classes, and what you want out of the degree. Perhaps the environment of the surroundings and what the local city/town has to offer. I treat most informal extra-curriculars with suspicion though. I mean toastie rep?

    You haven't mentioned the Warwick cult on here yet! :p: The issue with Durham is that very few of us on TSR post outside of the Durham section. If we do it's minimal. If not it's because of we're football regulars, like myself and one other. So I think this removes any potential to university brand name indoctrination.
    I think research has an effect on undergraduate teaching and can translate into students being taught the most cutting-edge, up to date knowledge and techniques. I've also observed that lecturers who lack a research background don't seem to be quite on the ball as those with a strong background. Having said that, this is entirely subjective, contingent upon the type of degree being studied, and what constitutes research. For many (particularly in the arts), research is more about arguing a theory (perhaps demonstrating how an analytical framework allows subtle complexities to become illuminated in a text). This is very different to empirical, lab-based research, and I suspect that somebody could be a brilliant scholar in something like Literature without having ever been part of a major research group. When it comes to the natural or social sciences, such as Educational Psychology, I suspect that the nature and value of course content is determined by the research activities of the academics who assess and validate interventions and assessment procedures. Given that literature can take a year or two to actually be published, and given that the literature doesn't really sink into mainstream academia for a perhaps a couple of years afterwards, there could be a real knowledge gap between one group of students at university A (with the profs) and another group at university B (with the great lecturers who are not up to date).

    If this makes sense....
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    This is ridiculous.
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    Was just a waiting game until the media decided to pounce on degree classes, SAT's got it, GCSE's got it and so did A levels, think it was time for Degrees. Here we go another 'generation vs generation' concerning exam difficulty it's becoming a joke.

    They should really conduct a test over all exams providing 'vintage' exams and modern exams against eachother for candidates. Shame there would be conflicts over syllabus or it would be quite interesting.
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    (Original post by Blooroo)
    I think research has an effect on undergraduate teaching and can translate into students being taught the most cutting-edge, up to date knowledge and techniques. I've also observed that lecturers who lack a research background don't seem to be quite on the ball as those with a strong background. Having said that, this is entirely subjective, contingent upon the type of degree being studied, and what constitutes research. For many (particularly in the arts), research is more about arguing a theory (perhaps demonstrating how an analytical framework allows subtle complexities to become illuminated in a text). This is very different to empirical, lab-based research, and I suspect that somebody could be a brilliant scholar in something like Literature without having ever been part of a major research group. When it comes to the natural or social sciences, such as Educational Psychology, I suspect that the nature and value of course content is determined by the research activities of the academics who assess and validate interventions and assessment procedures. Given that literature can take a year or two to actually be published, and given that the literature doesn't really sink into mainstream academia for a perhaps a couple of years afterwards, there could be a real knowledge gap between one group of students at university A (with the profs) and another group at university B (with the great lecturers who are not up to date).

    If this makes sense....
    It does make sense but sometimes I feel this explanation, one that I believed to be true of all cases once, is a bit of a generalisation and is dependent on course. It's difficult to provide a course having cutting-edge research if you have little contact time to start with. For physical sciences they will have time but social sciences and humanities I'm not sure. I mean, I can see the benefit of the specialisms on my course but I don't really see it as anything major. The only thing available to me as an undergraduate that I saw as a major involvement with research was the opportunity for a junior research fellowship, which would have involved co-authorship for research publications for peer-reviewed journals and newspapers but I lost out to another student. This example is not exactly common and that's why I applied to it even though it was not my field, though there were more similarities than my interviewer realised (I'm a criminologist but this was looking at the sociology of the financial crisis). Perhaps it's the level of involvement that we both deem to 'count' and 'benefit'?

    As a side note, I'd encourage this sort of activity. Universities like to boast about research so perhaps they should involve the students more? There's a good book on this by Angela Brew, "Research and Teaching" I think it is called.
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    I guess we both draw from our own experiences and have seen different things. My social science background, and the specialisms I've been exposed to, have allowed me to learn about things which most courses simply don't teach. There is a dearth in knowledge generally in this area, so getting on a course which provides such specialism gives me a one up in the job market where this knowledge is essential. Further, it just so happens that what is taught is empirically-based insofar as knowledge comes from research, and the lecturers are those doing the research. I fully understand where you are coming from though. One of the main things for me is that research degrees are not teaching degrees, and research academics are not necessarily good teachers, so consequently nothing is set in stone. This could be why new universities sometimes do very well (sometimes better) than older universities in teaching assessments, since courses at these universities are perhaps taught more by senior academics who may not be trained teachers, but have accumulated enough experience and skills to teach effectively.

    Edit: to cite the last (albiet out-of-date) teaching scores, Oxford Brookes was deemed to be "excellent" in 20 out of 24 subjects (or there abouts). Teaching quality was not an issue, and hasn't been an issue for many new universities for a while (if the older teaching scores are anything to go by).
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    Whatever, they just can't accept that we're better because in their days they still thought the Earth was flat or something so they failed.
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    If we all start improving the economy in ten years' time it'll be 'JOBS ARE GETTING EASIER.'
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    If Linford Christie was born ten years later he'd have better equipment and training techniques to further increase his previous record? Is the 100m race becoming easier?
 
 
 
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