Last year, the Trinity Education Project (TEP) commenced its long-awaited roll-out.
TEP promised a progressive reimagining of education in Trinity – one that had at its heart fewer exams and “more meaningful” assessment. This vision aligned neatly with the reformist view of learning as something that can’t be measured by a stressful two-hour exam sitting.
So people could be forgiven for being baffled by the latest TEP update, revealed by The University Times last week: that the number of exam sittings actually rose by 8.4 per cent over the last two years. Students sat over 6,000 more exams in total – hardly a negligible increase.
That TEP would suffer teething pains is no surprise. In an institute as big, old and rife with officialdom as Trinity, stumbling blocks on the path to change are inevitable. The justification for this particular transitional hiccup is the effect of semesterisation, as well as the introduction of new courses and modules under the project.
This makes perfect sense – and perhaps, in the end, such a radical upheaval of old structures will pay off for students and staff alike. Vice-Provost Jurgen Barkhoff promised this week that positive change is definitely on the horizon: next year, Trinity will introduce a new tool to map and measure assessment, while a just-signed student partnership policy will inform decisions about assessment going forward.
Nonetheless, it seems that Trinity could surely have done its homework better on this one. It’s disappointing that, despite the immensity of planning that went into TEP, as well as the emphasis the project places on reconceptualising exams, only three years into its implementation will the College roll out a tool to map assessment.
Add this increase in exam numbers to the litany of other issues that have bruised TEP’s reputation on campus, and it’s easy to imagine that the average student might struggle to see how the project serves their interests.
TEP may be for the greater good, but it goes without saying that the current cohort of students deserve better than being treated as guinea pigs – especially when it seems that a reasonable amount of foresight could have illuminated many of these hurdles.