University lecturer confronted with empty hall after none of her 400 students turns up

Posted on: 2018-11-12 19:45:00

The academic took a photograph of the empty lecture theatre and emailed it to all English undergraduate students 
The academic took a photograph of the empty lecture theatre and emailed it to all English undergraduate students 

For most English literature academics, delivering lectures to a less-than-full auditorium may well be considered an occupational hazard. 

But for one Russell Group lecturer, having no students whatsoever turn up for her address was a step too far.

The Birmingham University academic took a photograph of the empty lecture theatre and emailed it to all English undergraduate students along with a furious message the following day.

"The picture below is of the second year lecture in the Vaughan Jefferies lecture theatre on Tuesday,” she said.

"I was frankly shocked at this total lack of interest, from roughly 400 students in second year, in a lecture explaining marking criteria and our marking processes. I can only assume that these are not areas of concern after all". 

The lecture on “Demystifying Marking Criteria and Assessment" had been scheduled to take place during reading week, when many students choose to go home. 

Following the incident, the English department will now be "using registers in all classes" and two or more absences will lead to a meeting with the welfare team. 

"Many studies of student learning suggest that those students who regularly attend sessions achieve better grades those that do not," the lecturer's email said. 

"Attendance, an ability to manage deadlines alongside your normal lecture/seminar schedule, contributions in seminars and other examples of professional behaviour, moreover are all key things that we are asked to comment on in reference statements. 

"From week 7 we will be using registers in all classes, and in the final year dissertation lecture.  If you are unable to attend a class you must report this. Two or more absences will trigger a meeting with welfare."

Speaking to The Birmingham Tab, one English student said they "genuinely had no clue" about Tuesday's lecture, and "neither did anyone else". 

Another said: "I think it's unrealistic to expect students to show up to a lecture in reading week when many students go home and it's mean coming back for one lecture.”

Researchers have previously called for 9am lectures to be scrapped, following research that suggests early mornings interfere with young adults’ body clocks.

According to researchers at The Open University, lectures should start no earlier than 11am for students to be able to perform at their best.

Working with researchers at the University of Nevada, experts analysed the study patterns of 200 students and found academic performance was at its best between 11am and 9.30pm.

A spokesperson for the University of Birmingham said: “In addition to compulsory modules, we also offer a number of optional sessions for students throughout the year on topics such as study skills, assessment and feedback.

“This session was in addition to the standard timetable and was an optional session held during reading week, therefore students were not obligated to attend.

"Similar non-compulsory sessions on assessments skills have been held and were attended voluntarily by students."

By Camilla Turner
Education Editor
Source: The Telegraph

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