firstname.lastname@example.org May 2016 17:41
PGRs who Teach – results!
I can now, very proudly, present the results of the survey we deployed in March/April. I will hold my hands up and apologise that it is a month later than intended and here is the reason: originally we were intending to present the university-wide results outlining both quantitative and qualitative responses, which we were all set to get done on time. However, when looking at the raw data it didn’t tell us anything that useful without us breaking it down to faculty level because of the range in responses for each question. I thought that it would be better to present you with a full, thorough report which was actually useful than present something inadequate. This did mean that we were doing 9 times the amount of work we originally intended and given that we had only budgeted a short piece of time to write up the report, other campaigns/projects/plans interrupted the steady flow of report writing.
- There is generally no formal application process for securing a teaching position.
- Appointments are often made very informally via word of mouth or email, meaning that not all Postgraduate Researchers are aware of the teaching opportunities which are available and also that the details provided can be vague.
- 33.7% of respondents reported that they had not received a written contract of employment within the first two months of their employment.
- 11.7% of respondents did not complete the compulsory ITSPG training modules provided by the University before commencing teaching.
- Postgraduate Researchers found discipline-specific training delivered by their department significantly more useful than the University wide ITSPG sessions.
- ITSPG1 sessions are mostly only held in Semester 1 and places are limited; if a Postgraduate Researcher is unable to secure a place in Semester 1, they have to wait another year before they can teach.
- In the 2015-16 academic year, ITSPG2 sessions were only offered to four out of eight Faculties, despite being compulsory for all researchers wishing to teach.
- The University does not take into account Postgraduate Researchers’ previous teaching experience or qualifications, even when this is substantial, meaning that in some cases places on ITSPG sessions are being taken up by experienced teachers.
- 29.2% of respondents felt that their pay was either ‘Somewhat unfair’ or ‘Very unfair’.
- 40.2% of respondents said that they were not paid for preparation and 8.9% of respondents said that they were not paid for marking.
- There is a general lack of clear and consistent information regarding pay and taxation, causing much confusion and inconvenience.
- Postgraduate Researchers currently rely heavily on the support of their peers in order to answer key questions about their employment and to complete financial paperwork.
- The hours which Postgraduate Researchers are allowed to claim for do not always reflect the actual number of hours required to complete specific tasks.
- Although the hourly rate itself may be fair, the ‘real’ hourly rate in terms of actual hours worked is sometimes felt to be unacceptably low.
- 28.8% of respondents do not have a named point of contact supervising them in their teaching role, or do not know if they have one.
- 50.25% of respondents have not had the opportunity to be observed whilst teaching.
- 44.8% of respondents stated that they had not had the opportunity to receive any feedback on their performance from the students they teach.
- 45.8% of respondents stated that they had not had the opportunity to receive any feedback on their performance from University staff.
- 76.5% of respondents felt that the amount of teaching they have been allocated is ‘About right’.
- 75% of respondents felt that there teaching work has a ‘Somewhat positive’ or ‘Very positive’ impact on their general well-being.
I have attached the full report to this blog if you are interested in the full results: PGR Teaching Report – June 2016
What is The Students’ Union recommending?
I have sent the report to the Pro Vice Chancellor Education and the Director of the Doctoral College at the University.
In order to improve the experience of all our students, the Students’ Union would like to see each faculty implementing strategic changes to address the concerns raised in this report. The Union’s Vice President Education, the University’s Vice President Education, the Union’s Postgraduate Research Officer and the University’s Director of the Doctoral College should work together to champion these changes and monitor their implementation across the University.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the survey, you’ve really helped the Students’ Union take steps to represent and support you more effectively.
If you have any further questions or thoughts please feel free to get in contact with me. You can Facebook me or send me an email on email@example.com.
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