Staff Student Liaison Committee - Meeting Notes
Notes from School of Civil Engineering Student Staff Liaison Committee Meeting Tuesday 22 May 2007 1 pm
Peter Jia-Hui Xie
Mrs Cynthia Papangelis
Prof Kim Rasmussen
Dr Abbas El-zein
A/Prof David Airey
Dr Tim Wilkinson
Dr Li Liu
1. Welcome: The Pro-Head (Undergraduate), David Airey, welcomed all members.
2. Matters arising from last meeting in 2006
*Thesis: Updated arrangements for thesis were in place this year
3. Need for constructive student feedback
David Airey explained the surveys that students fill in:
* USE - Unit of study evaluation that most students fill in at the end of each semester about most courses. This is specifically aimed at an individual unit of study.
* CEQ - Course evaluation questionnaire: This is done by the Federal Government a few months after graduation and is sent to a random selection of students. It asks questions of a broad nature about your entire 4 years.
* SCEQ - Student course evaluation questionnaire: This is done by the university and is sent to a random selection of students during their time at uni. The questions are similar to the CEQ. It is designed to help the uni pre-empt what students might eventually say in the CEQ - so we can address issues early.
Part of the school's funding is connected to our performance in these surveys. Engineering has low scores compared to the rest of the uni and is trying to improve, but we need constructive feedback from students to identify what the issues are.
The issue of copying in exams was discussed. The main issue was related to Environmental Fluids: Students were opening books in a closed book exam and there was talking between some students, and looking at each others work. There was also an issue that the quiz had been advertised as 2 hrs and was only 1 hr long.
There had been some other recent issues that were mentioned:
* Concrete structures: Some students near the back of the class had apparently been talking to each other and passing scripts between each other.
* Project appraisal: Students had been talking to each other in exams with no interjection by the tutor in charge.
General issues related to quizzes were discussed. Some rooms were very cramped, making it hard to concentrate in quizzes, especially if it was hot. Some students felt distracted by close confines, and self conscious if other students tried to cheat if they were sitting too close.
David Airey and Kim Rasmussen were to investigate further on some of the specific issues related to Environmental Fluids.
5. Class sizes & clashes
Issues regarding clashes, particularly for combined degree students, were mentioned. Many combined degree students had many clashes. It was suggested that perhaps some lectures or tutorials or labs could be offered twice to offer alternatives to students with clashes. It was explained that the Civil Engineering timetable had been set up for students following standard menus, including combined degree students, would not have civil engineering clashes, but because of the huge choice students had in Arts, Economics and Science, it was not feasible to provide a timetable that could cater for everyone's needs.
Students mentioned that the "double offering" of several classes could reduce class sizes, and mention was made to the large size of surveying tutorials, where students felt they were not getting long enough time using the instrument. This was acknowledged by staff, but the solution had been to offer Survey Camp, where small groups of 3 or 4 had 1.5 full days use of theodolites.
Some issues relating to weighting of assessment in surveying were discussed.
6. Practical Experience
It was mentioned by 4th years that they had been given little information on the appropriate format of the work experience report, and that individual thesis supervisors had not shown much interest in the reports. There was a website http://www.civil.usyd.edu.au/courses/civl4008. Third year students had not been given much information on the expectation sof them to find work experience for the end of the year. Prof Rasmussen mentioned that there should be a briefing at the beginning of 3rd year for practical experience.
7. Hawkins Lab
Tim Wilkinson announced that new computers would be placed in the Hawkins Lab sometime in Semester 2 – with more computers than now (expanding into Nathan’s old office). It also hoped that the school was able to offer the 6MB free web cache that students could use in the access lab. Some issues relating to the printer running out of paper, and how it could be refilled more often were discussed. TW also regrettably mentioned increase in damage in Hawkins – broken backs off chairs, all the little Dell logos ripped off computer, stolen mouses and power cords, and food being eaten. This was not acceptable and showed disrespect for fellow students above anything else.
8. Student feedback
Prof Rasmussen mentioned that issues like cheating could be reported using the anonymous feedback form on the web – several students indicated that they were not aware of this facility. TW noted this had been mentioned on various emails to all students in the past couple of years, and undertook to repost the information on the bulletin board. See http://www.civil.usyd.edu.au/current/undergraduate/feedback.shtml
9: Toilets: The state of some of the toilets in the department was mentioned – eg being dirty, or the male toilets on the ground floor having no locks on the door. TW would report to Facilities.
10: Inappropriate Language: It was mentioned that some lecturers had used inappropriate sexist language in some circumstances, and that this had made some students understandably uncomfortable in lectures.
Kim Rasmussen aknowledged that some students might feel uncomfortable raising such an issue, and further reinforced that the (potentially) anonymous feedback form might be a suitable way for the specifics of such issues to be put forward.
10. Next meeting
One or Two proposed meetings for Sem 2?
Meeting closed at 2 pm