Trinity’s ambitious overhaul of its undergraduate curriculum, the Trinity Education Project, is currently moving through its penultimate planning and implementation stage, prior to being rolled out to the first crop of students in 2018. Many of the ideas involved in the project will revamp Trinity’s current teaching and assessment practices and lead to many changes, including the introduction of Christmas exams, new modules and electives and different entry routes.
The project is a welcome one in theory, given that it rejuvenates a tired system that often puts undue pressure on students or throws up strange barriers in their way. It could fundamentally change Trinity’s provision of both academics and extracurriculars in new and exciting ways. However, as much as the planning behind it is positive and ought to lead to optimisation and innovation, radical changes will rely substantially on implementation from schools and departments across College in order to succeed. And yet Trinity’s track record on this level would suggest this may be easier said than done.
When it comes to the nitty-gritty of modules, exams and day-to-day organisation, Trinity is infamous for its capacity to make any process complicated. Asking schools to design and implement Christmas exams, when they seem to struggle already with only one set of annual examinations, may be more than they’re able for. Many may decide not to bother at all with the implementation of Christmas exams, since they are not formally obliged to do so, while others may just throw in extra exams without putting consideration into the design of an exciting new curriculum that relies more heavily on continuous assessment and takes advantage of the new revision week. The same tales repeat themselves across College, with every student having their own tale of difficulty when trying to grapple with modules and exams. Last year’s fourth-year psychology students saw every one of their six exams fall within the same seven-day period. Some students in final-year English only have two end-of-year exams at present, and the new structure may lead them down the path of least resistance, where they either split exams down the middle or put on extra exams at Christmas. Does this then mean that these students will end up with a greater workload that ultimately leaves them worse off, or at the very least the same old tired curriculum the Trinity Education Project aims to overhaul?
From STEM subjects to arts and humanities, Trinity’s capacity for organisation is infamously poor. While the Trinity Education Project is exciting and innovating in theory, it remains to be seen whether individual schools may let down the project’s lofty ideals.