A new Assessment Policy has just been approved by the Academic Senate and will come into effect for Session 2. Associate Professor Michael Hitchens, FSE’s Associate Dean Quality and Standards, gives his answers to some real questions academics have asked about the policy.
In this, my very last Senate summary, there are important issues to contemplate arising from the most recent meeting of Senate. One that I will reserve for a separate post is the key topic of Academic Integrity, and in particular the report of the Academic Integrity workshops hosted by Senate in November 2015.
The end of 2015 is approaching with the re-entry velocity of a returning Soyuz capsule (230 metres per second) and indeed, much to my surprise, it seems that the festive season is already in full swing.
The June Senate agenda was jam-packed with important business which is no doubt reflective of the hard work going on around campus. Perhaps the recent cold snap can be blamed for encouraging us to stay in our offices and ticking off items from our to-do-lists.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was celebrating an extra two days of mathematics in Harvard Square, after a raging blizzard cancelled my flight out of Boston. Alas, that was over 3 months ago, and since then the business of Senate has advanced at a cracking pace.
Academics are, on the whole, excellent communicators. We hone our communication skills over thousands of hours; crafting research papers, articulating our ideas at conferences, mentoring our students, and engaging in the performance art of lecturing. So one might ask “when it comes to some of the really big academic decisions we make as an institution, why is it that we are not good at getting an effective message out there and engaging in a much broader open discussion of principle and practice?”
At least part of this is a function of available time. With so many pressing issues at hand, not to mention the ever-present round of meetings, it can be hard to prioritise the time necessary to engage fully in this communication process. But that isn’t the whole story.
The University Medal has traditionally been the most prestigious award we’ve bestowed upon our undergraduate students. Beyond its academic importance, this is an honour that carries with it great cultural significance in Australian society. Some might say that it is not simply an award; it is a cultural icon for which we carry the responsibility of custodianship.
In the past, following the common practice of Australian Universities, Macquarie has restricted the award of the University Medal to Honours students and we have awarded it in recognition of academic excellence throughout their studies. However, following the retirement of most of our Honours programs the University Medal has been orphaned, and we need to consider its place anew.