Yes, it's me, the ghost of COMP1531. I've spent most of today churning through the MyExperience feedback from 22T2 and taking extensive notes (this happens every term). I wanted to spend the time to addressing some of the feedback!
From my rough count, about 1 in 8 students didn't have a very good time this term (to over-simplify it). I really wanted to speak to those student's first and talk a little bit about what happened.
Thankfully, this is the 6th time I've run COMP1531, and this helps me get a very good feel for what does and doesn't work. We've experimented with a lot, and I want to start with the two major things that I am confident are the primary culprits for some of the challenges we faced this term.
In 2021 CSE decided to run COMP1531 in T2 (3 times a year). This term was the first time it happened. Running a course in a new term can always have interesting side effects. The most notable one though was that the average competency of a COMP student coming into this course was much lower
than normal. Normally when someone does COMP1531 they've pretty much always done COMP1521 and then about a 33/33/33 chance they've done COMP2521 before, during, or after. This usually leads to higher capacity for students to step up in challenging situations, and naturally our course has over years trended towards that type of student. For example, typically a student who does 1531 in T1 is actually in their second year.
There is a range of potential solutions to something like this - but they're not short term. Solutions can range from simplifying course content in every term (not the most sound approach) or potentially putting in other minimum requirements to do this course. This is unlikely something I am involved with because it's a bit of a longer term strategic piece, but I more just wanted to canvas that this
a real thing and it had quite a lot of trickle on effects (e.g. students saying that X was too hard when it's never been too hard for student's previously).
Even though we did have a lot of students struggle, I would like to commend nearly everyone for stepping up to the challenge. I think the persistence and ambition shown by so many of you is genuinely wonderful.
I wouldn't say we had a lot of terrible groups this term, but I'd say we had a lot of normal groups just going through some kind of ordeal. My rough count was maybe 40% of groups were fine/good/great,10% were hellish, and 50% were OK had a bit of a storm at one point or another. Nearly all of these cases came from someone (or multiple people) just simply not doing the work.
Now why is this? It would be easy to scapegoat the preference system, but my experience tells me it's not that simple. I think it's a combination of a trickle effect of (1.1) (above) resulting in people struggling to perform and it impacting others, and then also just a little bit of bad luck. We notice this sometimes with teaching - sometimes different cohorts of students are different and it can be surprising.
For context, we had as many complex "escalations" of group work issues in this term than we did in my previous 4 terms of teaching this course.
Alright! Now I want to get into some more granular feedback and let know either what we're doing about it, or if we aren't doing much, why that is the case.
There was a lot of other feedback that were raising issues that actually aren't "issues" but we might not have been clear enough that there are solutions to these problems, or not clear enough that we fix things behind the scenes for edge cases. We'll get better at communicating those.
And in general I can't address everything people have said - but you can trust I've done what's reasonable with it, and if you want to have your specific feedback addressed by me feel free to reach out any time :)
Thank you for an amazing term. Add me on LinkedIn if you haven't already. I had a lot of fun, and good luck with everything that comes your way in the future :)
You will have seen some grades appear on Webcms3 grades tonight. These include:
These marks are subject to change if new information comes to light or mistakes were made in the determinations (happens from time to time).
The highest project mark was 68.5/70~. It looks at a glance like the average mark was around 35/70. There are still some tutors marking classes (they will have emailed you) so I'm not in a position to comment on the overall cohort performance at this stage - we will wait to see what happens those + the exam :)
I have been asked a bunch about scaling. Don't just assume these marks will scale - as I said in the lectures we only apply scaling if the cohort as a whole does very very poorly. It's hard to explain much more at the moment but you'll have to trust that I have done this before so will make sure we're nice and fair!!
If there are issues with your project mark, please reach out to your tutor. Whilst their response won't be necessarily quick, we will be thorough. Don't stress about "marks being locked in" as I have the ability to update marks until something like mid-September, so we have plenty of time if you're a particularly tricky case.
For the final exam, you will receive at email at 8:30am (Sydney time) on Wednesday with instructions!
Just some quick updates! No emojis tonight, just straight facts :)