Whingeing academics

According to a report in this morning’s Age, a National Tertiary Education Union survey of university staff presents ‘a bleak picture of education quality and morale.’

The trouble with these surveys is that academics are always complaining, so it is difficult to know whether this is ‘whingeing as normal’ or whether there is anything unusual going on. It is always worth checking academic impressions against what evidence we possess.

The Age reports that more than half of academics do not believe that their university offers a better education than five years ago. Yet that is not the perception of students. The Course Experience Questionnaire continues to record improvements in satisfaction with teaching, and indeed most aspects of university life are showing long-term increases in satisfaction. The one clear exception is the ‘appropriate assessment’ scale, which is designed to explore whether ‘assessment promoted deeper forms of learning’. The questions in this scale are to do with whether more than a good memory is needed to do well.

An anonymous academic claims that

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