Thoughts on evidence based education

Posted in Teaching on May 22nd, 2020 by steve

Ireland“Back in 2013, Ben Goldacre (he of Bad Science and Bad Pharma) started a campaign to make education more evidence-informed. His original talk can be found here. Many educators (teachers, lecturers etc), most of whom could be described as traditionalists, found Goldacre’s intervention compelling and the ResearchEd movement, now a global phenomenon, was born …” (more)

[Tales from Academia, 22 May]


‘Students are under so much pressure – they’re like zombies’

Posted in Life, Teaching on May 6th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“It’s midnight outside UCD’s James Joyce library and hundreds of bleary-eyed students are trailing out the main door. Some have been here since first thing in the morning in order to grab a coveted seat with a socket to plug in their laptops …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 6 May]

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Has semesterisation been a good thing?

Posted in Teaching on April 1st, 2019 by steve

Ireland“The Trinity Education Project (semesterisation and modularisation in effect) is provoking a lot of debate at the moment. All of the other universities semesterised many years ago and it would be quite easy to simply characterise Trinity as a reactionary institution that drags its feet on everything. However, the longer I am in this line of work the more I value a slow and steady approach to reform …” (more)

[An Irish Blog about Education, 1 April]

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Acrimony and Unanswered Questions, at TEP Open Forum

Posted in Teaching on January 31st, 2019 by steve

Ireland“College officials were met with resentment and uncomfortable questions this evening, as students made plain their unhappiness about the Trinity Education Project at a bad-tempered open forum run by Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) …” (more)

[Eleanor O’Mahony, University Times, 30 January]

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Have your say: Is semesterisation putting too much pressure on students?

Posted in Teaching on January 25th, 2019 by steve

Ireland“Are Christmas and January exams putting students under too much pressure? It’s a question being asked on college campuses, prompted by factors such as high student drop-out rates, rising anxiety levels and declining participation in clubs and societies …” (more)

[Irish Times, 23 January]

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The last day of term

Posted in Research, Teaching on December 7th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“There is always a great sense of satisfaction on the last day of the teaching semester. That great moment on a Friday afternoon when the last lecture is over, the last presentation is marked, and the last of the term’s teaching materials can be transferred from briefcase to office shelf. I’m always tempted to jump in the car, and drive around the carpark beeping madly …” (more)

[Antimatter, 7 December]

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Thoughts on semesterisation

Posted in Teaching on October 11th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Most Irish universities are now modularised and semesterised. Modularisation was largely an exercise in repackaging but there are good reasons to believe that semesterisation has fundamentally changed the way students learn and not, perhaps, for the better. There is plenty of evidence in the cognitive science and education literature that we retain content in our long term memory only if we revisit it multiple times. We rapidly forget that which we only study once …” (more)

[An Irish Blog about Education, 11 October]


Changes to Academic Year Structure now Include Revision Week Before Christmas Exam Week

Posted in Teaching on March 16th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“The end of each of Trinity’s teaching terms will now include a revision week to avoid the new Christmas exam week coming directly after a teaching week. The change was approved by University Council as part of the latest adjustment to the academic year structure …” (more)

[Eleanor O’Mahony, University Times, 16 March]

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Trinity College breaks with 400-year exams tradition

Posted in Teaching on February 23rd, 2017 by steve

Ireland“Trinity College Dublin is to break with almost 400 years of tradition by introducing Christmas exams and an earlier start to the academic year for its students. The changes, approved this week by a majority of the university 200 fellows or senior academics, will bring Trinity into line with most European and US universities …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 23 February]

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62% of Fellows Vote in Favour of New Academic Year Structure, Including Christmas Exams

Posted in Teaching on February 22nd, 2017 by steve

Ireland“In a vote that could have vetoed the introduction of a proposed new academic year structure, 62% of Trinity’s Fellows have voted in favour of the introduction of a Christmas exam week and a two-week earlier start to teaching …” (more)

[Sinéad Baker, University Times, 22 February]

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Living with semesters

Posted in Teaching on February 7th, 2017 by steve

“Most universities in the English-speaking world (though as we shall note, not all) organise their academic sessions into semesters. A ‘semester’, just in case this needs to be explained, is according to the Oxford English Dictionary ‘a period or term of six months’ …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 7 February]

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Trinity College dons ‘incensed’ by provost’s reform plan

Posted in Governance and administration on February 6th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“The provost of Ireland’s oldest university has been accused of trying to turn Trinity College Dublin into a ‘second-rate polytechnic’ by introducing full semesterisation. Paddy Prendergast is also under fire over a plan to offer jobs to the spouses of ‘world-class researchers’ in order to attract top-tier talent to the college …” (more)

[Daniel McConnell, Irish Examiner, 6 February]

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Head2Head: Should Trinity introduce Christmas exams?

Posted in Teaching on January 30th, 2017 by steve

Ireland“When exams seem so far away they may as well not be there at all, it is all too easy to forget that we actually have them. In the past three months I have not seen enough of the Trinity libraries, and I know I am not the only one. Increasingly, colleges are switching to a semester-based system, where the academic year is split into two semesters …” (more)

[Fiachra MacCanna and Niall Maher, Trinity News, 29 January]

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Reassessing How We Assess is Welcome, but Christmas Exams are Not the Right Answer for All

Posted in Teaching on December 14th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“As the Trinity Education Project seeks to reimagine how students in Trinity are assessed, there is a strong chance that semesterised assessment, including Christmas exams, could be introduced, particularly as the students’ union has a mandate to advocate for them …” (more)

[University Times, 14 December]

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As Christmas Exams Become a Distinct Possibility, a Union Mandate Becomes Controversial

Posted in Teaching on December 12th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“In light of the Trinity Education Project, which aims to reimagine the Trinity curriculum in terms of teaching and assessment, the popularity of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union’s (TCDSU) mandate to advocate for Christmas exams has been called into question …” (more)

[Sinéad Baker, University Times, 12 December]

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Boole Library Opening Times

Posted in Teaching on December 10th, 2014 by steve

Ireland“University College Cork regrets that it is unable to extend further the opening hours of the Boole Library due to lack of resources. The Library adjusted its opening hours with the introduction of semesterisation based on statistics on usage/demand in pre-exams periods and exam periods …” (more)

[University College Cork, 9 December]

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UCC students stage sit-ins over library hours

Posted in Teaching on December 10th, 2014 by steve

Ireland“UCC students are staging sit-ins at the campus library as they continue to fight for extended opening hours onsite in the run up to exams. Student protests have been prompted by ‘inadequate’ library opening hours this year …” (more)

[Olivia Kelleher, Irish Examiner, 10 December]

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UCC students to continue sit-in over library hours

Posted in Governance and administration on December 9th, 2014 by steve

Ireland“Students at University College Cork have vowed to continue a series of sit-in protests until library opening hours are extended. Speaking after a second successive night of sit-ins …” (more)

[Ciaran D’Arcy, Irish Times, 9 December]

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UCC SU protest against library opening hours

Posted in Governance and administration on December 8th, 2014 by steve

Ireland“University College of Cork’s Student Union have staged a sit-in protest in objection to unsatisfactory library opening hours, in the lead up to Christmas exams which started today. The university, which implemented its semesterisation for the first time this year, have not altered library opening hours to cater for this, according to the SU President, Mark Stanton …” (more)

[Ryan Nugent,, 8 December

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Shorter summer for UCC students

Posted in Teaching on June 13th, 2014 by steve

“Summer will be shorter for University College Cork students this year as a result of a restructuring of its academic year …” (more)

[Niall Murray, Irish Examiner, 13 June]

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