Students in the common first-year engineering programme embark on a week of consecutive tests

THE Wits Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment has introduced a test week for first-time first-year students in the 2019 academic year.

The first test week took place from Monday, April 1, to Friday, April 5, during which first-year engineering students were scheduled to write tests in Hall 29 every day from 9am to 10.30am. Another test week is planned for next semester.

Linda Madlala, chairman of the Civil Engineering school council and academic and transformation officer of the Engineering Faculty council, told Wits Vuvuzela he felt the schedule was “absurd”.

He said it was “a system designed to cut off students because they will not be able to cope”.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Professor Andrew Crouch told Wits Vuvuzela the matter had been brought to his attention, but he had referred it back to faculty.

Crouch said the matter was discussed by the senate teaching and learning subcommittee, which focuses on ways to improve the quality of teaching and learning at the university.

He said the subcommittee had “a mature academic development unit and structured support system to assist students in need”.

The acting dean of engineering and built environment, Professor Anne Fitchett, attributed this decision to a shift to a common first-year engineering programme.

All first-year engineering students do the same courses in their first year and specialise only in their senior years at the institution.
Fitchett responded to concerns regarding the new system by saying it was introduced as an intervention to smooth over adjustment from high school to university because the assessment structure was now more similar.

“This is a pilot programme we are experimenting with,” Fitchett said.

“We dedicate one week to tests with no lectures, tutorials or labs in the way, so that students can focus on assessments.”
The Academic Development Unit, headed by Dr Rodney Genga, reiterated support for the shift and said the unit’s role was to aid students.

“I think it is really unfair and Wits did not consider that we are first years,” said first-year engineering student Delpha Skosana.
Genga assured Wits Vuvuzela, however, that the programme was “methodically aligned and designed with the students in mind”.

He said that after weeks of teaching, the students had been given two-and-a-half weeks off to study before the block break.
During the break they were also offered an autumn school series for revision purposes.

FEATURED IMAGE: Students at Hall 29 after writing Engineering Chemistry on Wednesday morning.


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