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Micromanaging unit coordinators

Limited induction provided for new academics has led this coordinator to assist them. Her own learning was by trial and error. The T & L centre assists with policies. She feels valued but has issue with the limited recognition of time spent on unit coordination. There are workload discrepancies, which are not seen as fair. More...

When I began unit coordination 15 years ago the university was a very different place. Unit coordination was not monitored and academics simply conducted their unit as they wished while ensuring their students were happy. Formal assessment did not exist and there was no firm policy on much at all. The hardest part for me was, not knowing where to go to get information I needed to complete my job. I simply learnt by trial and error and occasionally by talking with more senior staff. The brief induction session I attended focussed on the challenges facing international students. Now, I am the undergraduate coordinator for our school and quite knowledgeable about new developments at the unit coordination level.

There is no formal induction for unit coordinators here but when new staff arrive I assist them on an informal and ad hoc basis. Generally I sit down with them and outline some of the responsibilities they face and remind them about some tasks which they are required to complete. If I need extra help I speak with people in the Office of Teaching and Learning or our school Director of Teaching and Learning. These sources are familiar with policy developments so if I need information about text book policy, for example, I contact them. Because I am involved with many trials I am aware of most changes and access the website for more details as necessary. I can see that a half day or a full day generic induction program focussed on unit coordination would be valuable to new staff members who are often appointed with little preparation time. They need to know where to find information about setting and supervising exams, how to record final grades and who to approach for help.

I feel valued in my role as unit coordinator and receive positive feedback from students and the Head of School. Over the years feedback scores in the service teaching unit I coordinate have risen and I know the Head of School values my contribution as it is often commented on at faculty meetings. At the same time there are workload issues and I believe greater recognition of the time spent on unit coordination should be acknowledged across the university. There are often discrepancies in the workload allocations between unit coordinators of units with large numbers and those with only twenty students. Many unit coordinators are creative and develop innovative ways of teaching and engaging our students yet this is not reflected in our workload model. Sometimes I think unit coordinators are micromanaged. For example, we must use a particular unit outline template, follow a prescribed text book policy and complete specific forms for late assessments. Sometimes, I feel frustrated when information is presented in a negative manner rather than by acknowledging the good things we are doing in unit coordination.

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