12 Fails in Bolton Street

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12 Fails in Bolton Street

Postby x » Wed Jun 13, 2001 2:54 pm

Anybody have any thoughts as to why there were 12 fails out of 40 students?

One tutor ( J.Cleary ) has 1No 1.1 , 5no. 2.1 and 1no. 2.2, while others...( D.Byrne & Australian Bloke ) have most of the Fails?

Collect your P45's at the VEC Boys!!!!!!!
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Postby MG » Wed Jun 13, 2001 3:14 pm

12 out of 40 is quite a significant percentage (30). The question you should ask yourself and you didn't state here is, did they deserve to pass? What was the quality of their work like? You cannot really blame a tutor if your work isn't up to standard. College is not secondary school where you are dripfed everything, it requires initiative and self discipline. Tutors are ther to quide ultimately.
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Postby MK » Mon Jun 25, 2001 8:42 am

MG
It has been proven time & time again that the ability of the tutor has a huge & marked effect on the grades achieved by the student, to even attempt to suggest otherwise is preposterous.

Why let students slog through 4 years only to have them fail at the final hurdle. Surely the students incompatible with architecture would have been weeded out before then?

Architecture students in their final year of college are still very unsure, green if you like, in making large and complex decisions in realising their thesis, good tutoring and adequate guidance are of the utmost importance at this stage. I dont like to put all the responsibility on the tutors, but the reality of the matter is that the quality of the work in the final year bears a direct correlation to the quality of the tutoring.
QED
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Postby iuxta » Mon Jun 25, 2001 11:41 am

As MK says, the tutor that each student has for their thesis will have an effect on both the student’s work and their final mark. If a student ends up with a tutor who does not agree with their design philosophy, gives no encouragement, and instead says to them “well, if that’s what you want to do….” and then proceeds to ignore that student.

Meanwhile over on the other side of the studio those who had Joanna Cleary had the benefit of a tutor who recommended particular books for them to read, (something that none of the other tutors do), encouraged all her students in their own ideas, got to know each of their schemes intimately and consequently was able to argue and explain the decisions that had been made during the design process, both at the interim reviews and during the final marking. She also took time out to meet each student before their interview with the external examiners, calmed them down, and talked though their interview strategy.

All of the above are nothing less then any tutor should do for their students if they take any interest and pride in their work and the students that they work with during their thesis year. Surely, they should be trying to achieve the best for each student that each student is capable of ?
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Postby Copo » Tue Jun 26, 2001 8:40 pm

Is it true that students don't have a choice who their tutors are for their thesis project? Is it decided on a lottery basis?
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Postby jerry » Tue Jun 26, 2001 9:04 pm

copo, nope one doesnt have a choice of tutor. its a random/preffered selection process done by yr master. whoever you get you are lumped/delighted with for the year. and its not that one gets the opportunity to talk to other tutors as everyone to their own group..
unlike in other colleges where one actually interviews the tutors and decides whom they wish to work with which is a more intelligent system. if there was a higher standard of tutors in bolton street there wouldnt be a problem. the problem is the ratio of bad to good tutors the, being about 9 to 1. a lot of excellent tutors have been forced to leave due to the general situation in the college which has been going on for the last 7 years or for ever, as far as a lot of people are concerned.
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Postby izz » Wed Jun 27, 2001 12:39 am

I think this is veering into dangerous territory here, and that those posting their comments about specific tutors should really temper their comments.

Having worked part-time and full-time in various colleges, universities etc, I have noted that it is often the case that part-time tutors tend to be "given" students, often the ones that the full-timers do not want to deal with. Of course a good tutor will be able to help a student greatly, but the internal hierarchy can greatly disable tutors from encouraging a student in a particular direction.

It sounds as though Bolton Street has not got an adequate system or structure if the supposedly arbitrary assignation of a tutor can make such a dramatic impact on a student's overall performance.

The moderator of this discussion forum should really discourage this labelling of tutors, particularly part-timers, as in any way inadequate.

While a forum such as this obviously has its uses, it should not be used to make claims about specific tutors. If individual students feel very strongly about named tutors, surely they can discuss it with other students in their class rather than in such a public way.

What does the moderator think?
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Postby MK » Wed Jun 27, 2001 12:49 am

I may not be the moderator but I totally agree with IZZ.
Please decist from specifically blacklisting individuals on this forum, it is petty, cruel and completely unfair.
I believe this debate is questioning the overall establishment of Bolton Street and not individuals.

[This message has been edited by MK (edited 27 June 2001).]
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Wed Jun 27, 2001 8:28 am

I agree - naming individuals is not on.

I had to ban Bolton Street network from participating in these forums for a while after several students insisted on posting late night accusations of illegality by tutors. I don't want to have to do it again.

This is a voiluntary service and it could do without the agro of somebody getting upset and letting lose their solicitors.
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Postby iuxta » Wed Jun 27, 2001 9:16 am

Regarding the fifth year tutor system, with the exception of the year master, all tutors are part-time, coming into the studio either one or two afternoons a week. After the assistant year head left at christmas, the replacement was also full time, but tutor groups had been assigned earlier in the year, without any apparent selection on the part of tutors being evident.
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Postby jerry » Wed Jun 27, 2001 1:35 pm

being an x member of the above establishment, its ironic when i hear the names over and over and over again, mentioned with failing students, one wonders why is such a named person given such a powerful position in said establishment. this is not coincidence that surely thoses students arent weak in the beginnig as someone suggested but rather dont recieve the guidance necessary to make it through to this final hurdle.
surely at this stage to having achieved more than a normal college term of 4 years, this is just a final stage so why on earth would this amt. of people fail, surely there would have to be something substantially wrong with said bldg to fail ..ie that it was inhabitable..
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Postby James » Wed Jun 27, 2001 8:51 pm

Much as I hate to defend Bolton St (which by the way I think is a dreadful College of Architecture). I ahve to say is failing 5th year such a tragedy??.

Sure its rough at the time and seems to the individual concerned to be a cataclysmic disaster. The fact is though that some theses are in trouble from the very start and seem almost predestined to go down in flames.

Quite apart from the subject matter which can often cause problems, 5th yr is a rotten year for somebody who is used to constant supervision and programme management on the part of staff precisely because the nature of a thesis is so individual and as a 'master' work is to a large extent determined solely by the student in terms of its success or failure as a design project.

Its also worth noting that the majority of thesis repeats and indeed general year repeat student tend to perform better than average the second time around. That was certainly my experience back in the dim distant past.

Personally I'm not in favour of staff spoon feeding thesis students - if they do then what precisely is the point of doing a thesis??.

Anyway, my sympathies go out to the 12 repeats but I would also be inclined to advise them that they will most likely benefit in the long run from the repeat year. After all in the job market your first job is obtained on the basis of thesis quality - far better a high quality repeat thesis than a poor quality pass.

Regards
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Postby James » Wed Jun 27, 2001 8:54 pm

PS

Just by way of comparison:

In my first year twenty out of thirty students failed - and this was in the days when failure of first year meant Bye Bye Bolton St and Architecture and at best a transfer to pre-engineering (nearly 20 years ago).
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Postby kjsobrien » Fri Jun 29, 2001 7:07 pm

3 Realities and 1 Suggestion
+The reality of the failed 12 students is that the projects in question were either incomplete or developed in the last few weeks of semester and were not evidence of 6 months work. Take RESPONSIBILITY for this kind of action.
+The reality of Bolten Street is that is does not have enough studio RESOURCES (ie around 20desks, 8 PCs and 10 drawing boards) to provide for what was initially 48 students.
+The reality of the 5thyear course work is that there is little 'INSPIRATION' in the form of design lectures or own project lectures by f/t and p/t staff . This includes staff committment and involvement.
+ To improve the system for next year's fifth year surely more: RESPONSIBILTY, RESOURCES and INSPIRATION.
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Postby Eoghan Walsh » Fri Jun 29, 2001 9:12 pm

Accidental Education for the most part is what I received in Bolton St.

I was told that from first year onwards we would do most of our learning from one another, but how can you learn if you do not know how to learn?

It is unfair to blame lecturers and staff for people failing, the system has let them, and us, down by not having a stronger course direction and by not guiding them in how to teach and crit us, and in a system which did not adequately challenge.

Some people will never get along
Some people will struggle
Some people will do well

The class itself was let down by the system, but we are not entirely blameless ourselves.
Disinterest and apathy was evident.

I am disappointed that people who do not identify themselves INSULT people who taught me, who I found very inspiring, from an unknown, bitter position outside of the system.

I made the best of the situation, and really enjoyed my year because I participated.
You get back what you put in.

It was always made clear to me that if students had a problem with a tutor that they could go to the yearmaster and arrange for a different tutor.

Finally, while I am glad to be qualified I shall miss the place, the lecturers,the life of a student, the very good friends that I made there that inspired and challenged me, I shall always remain a positive optomist.
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Postby BM » Sat Jun 30, 2001 5:22 pm

While the 12 fails in Bolton St. are certainly lamentable, it is unfair to put the blame entirely on the tutors. While it is certainly no coincidence that those under the inspired and dedicated tutelage of Joanna Cleary fared so well, other tutor groups found that they generally got as much out of the process as they put in. It is inevitable that some studnts and their randomly assigned tutuors would not see eye to eye. Certainly we were told that we could change tutuors but this then puts all parties in an incredibly awkward sitiation. The fact that the year head was less than fair and in many cases indulged in blatant favouritism and conduct that could be deemed deeply unprofessional didn't help matters as many students felt intimidated.
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Postby James » Mon Jul 02, 2001 6:52 pm

I find this web site quite interesting, notwithstanding what might seem like a lack of sympathy for the 'repeats' on my part.

It seems appalling to me that the resources available in the college are so inadequate. The other thing that strikes me is that the years seem to be getting bigger I notice a lot of talk of large classes, this has to have a damaging impact upon education and allocation of resources in the lower years.

There always seems to have been a very wide disparity in quality of lectures, tutelage and teaching staff within the various years. It issimply amazing that this is still the case.

As I mentioned in another posting, I'm not overly concerned at the number of thesis repeats, but the standard of the college as a place of learning really does seem to be getting worse rather than better.

I still can't understand, if standards are so low, why the RIAI have not been brought into the fray.

On the plus side nobody really cares what college you went to - good, bad, or indifferent, in an interview situation an interviewer wants to see evidence of diligince, imagination and consistancy - and its usually the thesis which provides that. So the only thing I can say, is if all else fails, get crits from the better students in other years (those below as well as those above you), don't let your pals hog the best library books an periodicals let them know you want access to them as well (this ws a huge problem in my time). If you feel the system is failing you and can't get resposive action from the college or RIAI get together into groups and crit one another. That can really make a huge difference - I've seen it done in other colleges overseas where the teaching was abysmal and the standard of design was incredibly high.

Lastly you can't really get very far unless you hang together. Architects by their nature tend to be too individually oriented for their own good. By getting together if only for crits you 'buck the system', I think thats whats meant by learning from other students.


Best wishes

[This message has been edited by James (edited 02 July 2001).]
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Postby dm » Mon Jul 16, 2001 11:53 pm

Why can UCD students re-submit in the autumn while DIT students have to repeat the whole year?
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Postby MG » Tue Jul 17, 2001 9:08 am

Just the difference between colleges I suppose.
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Postby Sean Citizen » Tue Jul 17, 2001 9:30 am

I've heard that UCD students in any year can only submit for that exam three times. Three fails means having to leave the course - so students do not usually submit in the summer if their work is considered by staff to have no chance at all of passing. Better chance to do some additional work and submit in the autumn instead.

In Bolton Street, on the other hand, there is no such restriction or disincentive to submit if your work is incomplete or hopeless. The attitude seems to be "Sure it may have some chance. I might get lucky and pass." It goes on, year after year, until someone eventually relents. It seems there are some current students still 'on the books' in Bolton Street, nearly 20 years after enrolling. That can't help morale or standards, can it? How many of them were in the 12?
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Postby Brian Smyth » Thu Jul 19, 2001 9:08 am

Will ya keep it down over there! Your disturbing my beautiful peace as I look out from my office window over beautiful sunny Perth, the Swan River and Kings Park. 20degs outside - not bad for mid winter.
Nothings changed since I graduated from Bolton St in 1978.
When my tutor was announced, my mates sympathised as if someone died in my family.
I decided to face the grumpy old bastered face on in my first tutorial with a lot of hard work (heaps of drawings) but most importantly, logical reasons for what I was proposing and honesty for areas where I needed help. Over many tutorials (which I made sure were frequent) we grew a healty respect for each other and I even got old grumpy to smile a few times. The situation is no different in the real World where you will find bastard of clients and bosses.
To blame failure on a tutror is dishonest.
To enter architecture in Bolton St or UCD you need to be pretty bright. You would be pretty stupid to stay with a tutor you are not happy with. Or maybe you are not honest enough to admit you were lazy or complacent.
I've seen this in other very bright students who deserved to fail because they still had not grown up.

G'day from the best city in the World
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Postby doozer » Thu Jul 19, 2001 6:43 pm

It is nieve to insist that every student who failed out of this class was simply lazy or worse unable to submit a passable thesis. Again and agian we hear contributions from the post gradutate Bolton Street survivors exhorting the benefits of struggling on, battling a less that fair system and consequently getting as far away from the institution as is humanly possible i.e Australia and the like. Has it occurred to these people that this is not what third level education should be - yes , you discover knowledge for yourself but this should not be as a result of the dearth of imput resident in the teaching staff. Why are there still permanent lecturers in a course where part time staff who are also practising architects are so much more effective?
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Postby iuxta » Fri Jul 20, 2001 10:33 am

I agree that the system of part-time staff members coming in to studio is a good way to run the program as it brings some fesh blood into the college.

The problem with some part time staff is that while they agree to take on the work as well as continuing with their private practise, they are frequently so busy in the office and it seems that the time spent in the studio is always getting squeezed. Consequently you can get a tutor arriving into the studio at 5:30-6:00 and there may be only a few of the tutor group left, which is all there is time to see at that point.

If they agree to be in from 2:00 - 6:00 and are paid on this basis, then they should keep the hours for which they are paid. After all they wouldnt expect a paying client to sit waiting for them from 2:00 until 5:30, would they?
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Postby doozer » Mon Jul 23, 2001 3:58 pm

In my experience a lecturer being full time by no means gauruntees his attendance in studio, in fact the part timers (who are used to keeping a regulated scheduale) are much more reliable. They are also seem to be significantly more enthusiastic and dedicated in their approach to the course. I don't necessarily think that this is a result of their being part time but when you compare the informed and inspiring critiques executed this year by Dermot Boyd and Donal as opposed to the jaded crits given in almost every other year you have to ask the question "should people who don't practice architecture teach it?"
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Postby izz4 » Tue Jul 24, 2001 9:58 am

While the staff practising architecture may seem important, another serious issue is the apparent lack of a strong research culture in Bolton Street. As an institute that aspires to University status, this should be a higher priority. If there was a strong research culture, it would also mean a wider range of students could flourish: some may become academics, and push Irish architectural culture in more interesting directions.
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