History Department Response to Student Feedback
HSTY2008 - Film and History (2004)
Unit Coordinator: Dr Judith Keene
There were 230 students enrolled in this course of whom 108 completed a Unit of Study Evaluation.
Overall 85% of students were satisfied with the quality of this unit, 11% were neutral and 4% were dissatisfied. The same proportion of 85% felt part of a group of students and staff committed to learning, while 13% were neutral and 3% disagreed with the proposition.
Of all students 89% felt that staff were responsive to student feedback, 11% were neutral, 81% of students felt that the assessment was fair, 13% were neutral and 6% disagreed. While 74% of students could see the relevance of this subject to their degree, 19% were neutral and 7% could not see the relevance.
On the course workloads, 22% felt that the workload for this course was too high, 37% neutral and 41% disagreed with the proposition that the workloads were high. 69% of students felt that interaction with other learners was an important component of the work in this unit while 19% were neutral and 12% disagreed.
Judith Keene’s response:
The evaluations suggest that overall most students were very satisfied with the course. It is always a great pleasure to teach this course and the lecturer and the tutors felt that 2004 was no exception. The movies screened all had had European commercial releases ( 1920s to 1980s) and were always screened with subtitles, but none of the films is of the sort that fits the category of “it’s Friday night so just put your feet up and sit back and snooze”.
The student response to the workloads question was significant and suggests that a good number of students felt too much was expected of them. This, however, is a perennial problem in senior courses.
It is true that cinema studies require extra attendance (because there is a full film screening as well as a lecture and tutorial). It is hard to see how a course that deals with cinema that is new to many students could be structured without requiring a full screening and a solid amount of background reading in order to introduce the viewer to the debates about particular directors and their films. I will revisit the amount of reading set, however, next time that I teach this course.
As well, students in this course completed a survey of cinema studies across the campus in second semester 2004. HSTY 2008 students expressed unanimous dissatisfaction and frustration with the quality of the screenings and the sound provided.
This sentiment was entirely shared by the lecturer and the two tutors in this course. Similar dissatisfaction with the technical quality of the screenings and the equipment was expressed in every course surveyed at The University of Sydney. As a result, the university has agreed to improve the quality of the equipment in thirty university venues and these will be ready for 2005.
Among the films that students would remove from the course, most cited were The Blue Angel and Un Chien Andalou. Among the most cited not to remove were Triumph of the Will and (perhaps surprisingly) Germany Pale Mother.
Judith Keene’s response:
The first two are classics in European cinema and serious film scholars need at least to understand these films and have viewed them in their entirety.
As to the second two: Leni Riefenstahl is an important director and it is a worthwhile experience to view the film in its entirety armed with a knowledge of context and meaning. Helma Sanders Brahms is a superb example of New German Women’s cinema and it is a source of great satisfaction to the three teachers in this course that students responded so positively to this complex and engaging movie.