Comment & Analysis
May 19, 2019

Students Have an Extra Revision Week. Now College Departments Must Reform Assessment

Too many of Trinity’s departments have stuck to old methods of assessing students.

Léigh as Gaeilge an t-Eagarfhocal (Read Editorial in Irish) »
By The Editorial Board

For many, the news this week that College has allocated an extra week to revision before next year’s summer exams was bittersweet.

Final-year students, in particular, made their feelings known on social media, pointing out the obvious: that the extra week of study, even if it’s a sign that College is listening to students to some extent, won’t do them much good.

It was a justifiable outpouring of bemused frustration from a constituency who feel they were the guinea pigs of the Trinity Education Project in the most important year of their undergraduate lives.


But this week’s outrage, the latest in a year’s worth of student angst at College over structural changes and increased workloads, was suggestive of a discourse that is skipping over a genuine cause of disorganisation and difficulty in College: departments and schools.

Vice-Provost Chris Morash has at every turn attempted to shift the onus onto departments to bring their curriculums and assessment models in line with the new year structure – with relatively little success.

While the College must be held accountable for a year that has caused enormous stress to too many students, Morash does have a point. Too many of Trinity’s departments seem stuck in their ways, unwilling to accept that changes to their curriculums might in fact improve the education they’re offering to students.

Even as College has revamped its year structure and begun the process of overhauling its timetabling system, many of Trinity’s schools have stuck to methods of assessment that only make sense within the old structure. Some have totally ignored Christmas exams, a decision that smacks of the same arrogance that students have accused Trinity of.

Inescapably, the foibles and failings of the Trinity Education Project are ultimately the responsibility of College’s top officials. But in many cases, they’re being caused by departments that are failing to carry out even the most rudimentary steps to adapt to it.

Ahead of the second year of the project, it is incumbent on heads of departments to get their act together and deliver considered assessment structures so that students can feel the benefits of a different kind of undergraduate education.