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5:29pm on Thursday, 18th July, 2013:



Today was the day that the Computer Science graduands at Essex University became graduates.

I couldn't go to the actual ceremony as it was at 4pm and I had to pick my daughter up from a work placement at 5pm, but I went to the university anyway to see if any of my (now former) students were there in their finery. It was a baking hot day, and didn't seem as busy as in previous years; the late timing of the ceremony probably didn't help attendance either.

In all, I spoke to four of my former students. All were strong academically and had done well; two had jobs and two were going on to do master's degrees. I was blanked by another four of my students: I made eye contact with them, but they didn't acknowledge me.

That's been pretty well the story all year for this cohort of students: half of them engaged and half of them didn't. I'm sure quite a lot of them didn't actually like me. I put the cause down to the fact that people were allowed to take my CE317 final-year module without having taken my CE217 second-year module, so they weren't really interested in games, just in getting a BSc. My assignments reward creativity rather than mere "you wanted it to do X, it does, X, where's my 100%?" a lot of students seemed to expect, so that didn't prove popular. My exam was done quite badly: I had thought that in a Computer Science department, a simple programming question was gifting the students marks; it turned out not to be so. Likewise, I thought that students would be worried that they might have failed the exam, so I mentioned in a blog post that I expected the results to be scaled; that didn't turn out well either...

By the end of the summer term, three letters of complaint about me had been sent to the Head of School, which is three more than have been sent before. I had to delete two blog posts as a result and write a length reply to the other explaining how "you're making it all up" is actually a good thing in a research-led teaching environment.

Overall, then, it's been a tougher academic year than normal, but these things happen. Next year's third years will all have taken CE217, so should be more interested in games than half of this year's. They'll also be spared a Lua question in the exam, in response to the problems experienced by this year's CE317 students.

Oh well. I may not have spoken to many graduands today, but I did get to eat two Magnum ice creams so there's some solace there.

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Copyright © 2013 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).