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Dumbing down of Degrees

Discussion in 'Speaker's Corner' started by Gaidin109, 28 Feb 2010.

  1. Gaidin109

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    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/educatio...stood-up-against-dumbing-down-of-degrees.html

    Well done to Professor Buckland, who stood up for his values. He was entirely correct to fail students who, after two years of an Archaeology degree did not know whether the mesolithic age came before or after the neolithic age. One student blamed the decline of Elms on diseases spread by Dogs and another explained that the Pompeii volcanic eruption changed human evolution (I would love to see the reasoning behind those two!, although fungi attacking Elms can be spread by Dogs they are not the specific cause.).

    The more shocking thing is that De Montfort University 'upgraded' some papers in first and second year pharmacy students, lowering the pass mark by 26% after half failed the exams.

    This devalues the efforts of those who actually bothered to study.

    What is happening to standards of degrees in this country. When 77% of Dons feel they are coerced into awarding inflated test scores and two thirds feel that the increase in second and first class degrees was not a sign of improving standards then we have a serious problem.
     
  2. californiadream

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    Whilst this dumbing down might be the case in some universities I hardly feel that it's applicable to universities in general. To be fair the universities listed in the article aren't exactly anywhere near the creme de la creme as it were. Where I'm studying (Durham uni), the workload is rediculous and you are expected to produce something exceptional to gain good marks.
     
  3. semi-pro waster

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    Interesting and I'm glad for Professor Buckland that he has won his case. It'll be intriguing to see what, if anything, this changes though in terms of university gradings. I do hope that it doesn't just lead to a backlash with extra stringent marking in an attempt to (over-)compensate.
     
  4. Gaidin109

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    Yet to be honest, your use of Whilst in place of While, Aren't instead of Isn't and the spelling of ridiculous in your post may suggest that although you find the coursework difficult, that in itself is not an indicator of increasing standards. I would have been corrected for that constantly at my University, until it became second nature not to make such errors.

    Spelling and grammatical errors in forum posts are not important and I am not suggesting that your opinion is invalid based on this, but it is important to note considering the nature of this debate.
     
    Last edited: 28 Feb 2010
  5. californiadream

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    To be honest I didn't think a quick post required in depth spelling and punctuation checks on my part as I wasn't expecting to be graded like this on a forum :p. Ok so my spelling of one word is wrong and I didn't bother putting in grammar but my point is still valid and I wasn't scorning the nature of the debate. For some 'universities' the article is accurate but on the whole I believe that grade systems are accurate and that people generally work hard to get the grades and positions they deserve. Also, 'whilst' fits and if I replaced 'aren't' with 'isn't' it wouldn't make sense.
     
    Last edited: 28 Feb 2010
  6. RDM

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    The above in English is purely a matter of preference as the words are synonymous in meaning and usage. Whilst being considered a little more formal but that is all. Different organisation and publications may well differ on their preference but there is nothing gramatically incorrect about using whilst.
     
  7. Surfer

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    lol Gaidin..... if you are going to try to correct someone's grammar be sure that you get it right! hehe. Isn't in place of aren't ? :D You sure bout that?
     
    Last edited: 28 Feb 2010
  8. Gaidin109

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    'Whilst' is archaic and would be written "whilst dumbing down" rather than "whilst this dumbing down" when 'While' would be more suitable. you are correct with arn't however, I misread Universities as the singular. My apologies.:)

    In reality though your own University disagree with you, Academics from Durham used independent aptitude tests over a period of 20 years to conclude that sixth formers of the same ability awarded C grades in the late 1980's (When I sat mine interestingly) would now expect to get A grades.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/educatio...-body-unsure-how-to-prevent-dumbing-down.html

    This was the point I was making, not how difficult it is to be a student today, but as a direct correlation to previous marking standards.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/aug/17/a-levels-results-standards-ib
     
    Last edited: 28 Feb 2010
  9. Gaidin109

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    If you are going to use 'Whilst' to create a more formal style then using the less formal 'arn't' instead of 'are not' is somewhat incongruous. This was the point I was making, my own reading problems aside of course :D
     
  10. Gaidin109

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    I mis-read universities as university....teach me to keep my mouth shut..lol
     
  11. cosmogenesis

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    Ah yes ye old bell shaped curve of human ability really gets politicians goats I am sure and if the belle shapred curve cannot move based on brains function then the grading system can. Britain has little factories left for ye old 11+ leavers and perhaps immigration fills those job roles anyway (controversial and politicial I know) and hence its education, education, education regardless of your brain size for wha else is there for young people to do.

    The brightest will always be so and no one needs to worry about them so Russell Group Universities need not worry but all them ex politechnics and new HE colleges need money and people who pass. Simples.
     
  12. californiadream

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    In some cases I guess a dumbing down of GCSE and A-levels could be argued e.g media and other rubbish like leisure. On the other hand, higher grades may just be due to the structure of the syllabus. I would maintain that things like English and creative subjects are generally up to the same standard but for subjects like science the very fixed 'know this fact and you win' style syllabus is easy to pass in due to greater access to the syllabus itself and the resources to find this fixed answer. Also, the 'less able' students generally still fail or drop out before sixth form and even if As or A* are more easily awarded it's all still relative within the year and comparing students based on the number of these achieved still allows comparison of ability.
     
  13. regulus

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    That was almost impossible to read.
     
    Last edited: 28 Feb 2010
  14. Gaidin109

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    But in this scenario are they not just comparing like with like within the same reduced standard with regard to how ability is measured? If you limit your comparison to all students within the same year, then of course no evidence of 'dumbing down' is seen. This does not mean that 'dumbing down' has not occurred, just that the overall level required has been lowered.

    I am referring to the overall standards across all Universities and Colleges. I accept that Durham is of a higher standard than say Bournemouth and thus the degree should be valued more. I have found in the past that my degree is secondary to the the actually University I attended to most employers.
     
    Last edited: 28 Feb 2010
  15. cosmogenesis

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    The system has changed, only 1 to 5% used to go to University and now its upwards to 50%. Its just not possible to do that without changing the standards or the way that work is done and marks awarded surely ?

    Maybe no one does maths,physics an chemistry any more though. They like media studies and sports science more perhaps.
     
  16. OpenToSuggestions

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    Degrees have been massively dumbed down.

    As long as you have SOME Alevels, you get into Derby, Huddersfield, Staffordshire, Sheffield Hallam.

    All of which are crap unis where the year is done and dusted by April each year!.
    Courses there are far too easy and give students who are not bright enough to go to a 'proper' university false hopes of good salaries.

    I have a friend doing some architecture degree at Lincoln. He got D's and E's at Alevel and finds it easy. He will graduate, apply for jobs in this field and get his application thrown in the bin.

    Basically the government want people, who are not clever enough for 'proper' degree courses are doing easier degrees because students do NOT count on the unemployed list.

    As a result, the amaount of grants given to people who really are not of university calibre means that the government cannot fund proper courses anymore, where students would get good jobs and pay back their student loans 10 fold through taxes.
    Industry is fully aware of all the above.
     
    Last edited: 28 Feb 2010
  17. Gaidin109

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    Out of interest Cosmo, did you attend University or gain any A levels?
     
  18. regulus

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    If it involve changing (read, dumbing down) the syllabus, then yes, it's possible. I firmly believe that university should be for the top 10% of school graduating students, while the rest would be given a second chance via resitting key exams to prove they too belong there. This will make degrees valuable again and something worth taking serious when interviewing applicants for jobs.
     
  19. OpenToSuggestions

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    They used to.

    Camebridge, Oxford, York, Nottingham (the real one), Sheffield (the real one), Birmingham (the real one) etc are universities.

    Birmingham City, Nottingham Trent etc were Poly's.
     
  20. Gaidin109

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    As well as being self regulating as university education would be reserved for the top 10% of population regardless of overall population ability. Good old fashioned learning curve.

    I agree that 'trade schools' and apprenticeships should be reintroduced, while Universities are exclusively academic.
     
    Last edited: 28 Feb 2010