Fall 2014 UpdatesTim Smith
As we approach the final few weeks of the semester – and the well-deserved break – it’s time to take stock of where we are and what we have achieved since the start of the academic year.
For one thing, Foundations was the only department that could say that every student had a teacher to teach them in classes of a manageable size; you might find that strange to say, but other departments have had to defer students until next semester, due to a shortage of staff. Due to the military conscription of many new male students, we were able to temporarily transfer teachers from our men’s colleges to our women’s colleges, where we have had a record number of Foundation students this year. We don’t know how many of these men will return to us for the next academic year but we are planning for most of them to do so. Next semester will see a reduction in the number of Foundation students as many will have their IELTS and move into their BAS programmes, which will reduce any still-existing large class sizes. In addition, we don’t expect many new students to join us in February.
With the exams in mind, it’s important that our students are constantly informed that it’s better to get a zero in an exam than be caught trying to ‘improve their performance with work that’s not their own’; we can help weak students, but we can’t do much for those caught being less than honest.
Here are some updates on important issues we have faced:
One area that has been of concern in Foundations for many years has been the low on-time progression through Foundations; in fact, this has been used by some as saying that students in Levels 1 and 2 will never make it into the Bachelor programmes.
I’m very pleased to attach the three year trend for our Foundations On-time progression to Bachelor. Significant increase is evident in the progression rate of the Fall 2012 cohort compared to the two previous years.
· Overall progression: from 27% for 2010 cohort, 33% for 2011 cohort to 51% for 2012 cohort
o Level 1: 24% increase
o Level 2: 29% increase
o Level 3: 13% increase
o Level 4: 7% decrease
· Very high increases in Level 1 and 2
· The Level 4 rate has dropped in all colleges except AAMC, FWC and RKMC. We are looking into the reasons for this.
· RKMC has a remarkable increase (44%) in L4 progression compared to previous cohort.
These figures show than many students do actually progress through Foundations and into the Bachelor programmes on time
One factor in the increase has been the Exceptional Progression initiative which has been a great motivator for our students. In addition, the 100% concentration on student success that we demand in Foundations and which is told to students at regular assemblies means we have a coherent, united approach that is producing results.
The Pearson Online Materials
On my visits to the colleges and at your team meetings, many of you have stated that the iPad materials supplied by Pearson have not been up to the standard we expect, and that in some colleges, they are not being used at all. Many of you were part of the focus groups that Pearson asked us to set up for them last semester; I have seen the feedback generated but unfortunately, little of what was asked for has been forthcoming. Consequently, it was decided to cancel the contract with Pearson and they have been notified. We still need to tie up the loose ends but for now, their materials that we use will continue to be available, but these will cease by the end of the academic year. Q Skills and other materials are, and will continue to be, available and we will be looking at other resources.
More of us than ever are applying for PD funding to give papers at, or attend, conferences, or take courses that will help you with your teaching and careers. This is really pleasing and we are lucky to have been given a healthy PD budget which we aim to spend.
We have PD Week coming shortly and our Foundations PD Day on Monday 5th January at DMC will hopefully be full of ideas for helping us help our students succeed.
I have told you at your meetings that the hardest job in the HCT is being a Foundations teacher and I really believe that; without the magnificent job you do day in and day out in the classroom, there would be few students in the BAS programmes and therefore fewer students entering employment in their communities. The fact that next year we expect a 10% increase in the number of students joining Foundations is testament to the quality of teaching our students get; they are our best advertisement as they tell their sisters and brothers of the kinds of teachers and support they have, and encourage them to join us.
Many thanks indeed for your incredible efforts on behalf of our students.