All entries for Sunday 05 February 2006

February 05, 2006

Should we follow Oxford?

Oxford recently announced that each student must sign a contract upon being accepted to enter university that would require them to attend lectures and classes.

They have done this to prevent them from being sued if a student does not do well as the student can easily blame the institution for not teaching well….. etc

However, thinking of Warwick uni, I wonder what would the reaction be to such a contract? Many students don't go to all of their lectures, while some don't go to any. I went to do a lecture shout in an engineering lecture in which there were only 20 (out of maybe 250) students present! It makes you wonder what students come to university for?

If lectures were made compulsory then I think the outcome would be more positive, as proffessors that can't teach will be given a lot of negative feedback and hopefully relieved of their duties, as well as in my view it will increase to some extent the grades obtained by students. While many studies show no connection between lectures and grades in introductory modules (e.g. economics 1), however attending lectures positively affects grades in modules which go into deeper understanding of the material.

Most importantly – a lecture has to add value to a text book for students to want to go there. For example I went to all of my Phil lectures in term 1 because the lecturer never just followed the core text, but added immense value to the core readings making attending lectures compulsory by default. Similarly econometrics or mathematical economics lectures I feel add real value to text book knowledge. In the current situation only the most value added lectures and those given by good professors will be attended by most of the students, whereas ones where it is just as easy to read of a text book will (should) not get too many attendeea. So may be if we make it compulsory to attend all lectures, just maybe the lecturers will also feel obliged to do more on their part to make us want to be there out of choice.

So I think it just might be a good idea after all (but not if its a 9 am one!)

February 2006

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