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Pass or Fail? The Pre-Matriculation Module Proposal

Updated: Mar 15, 2022

Current President of the School of Social Sciences, Cameron Irons, has raised a proposal for a pre-matriculation module that would be completed by all students prior to joining the University of Dundee. The module would include sections on Gender Based Violence and Consent; Equality, Diversity and Inclusion; Climate Change and Sustainable Action; and Academic Integrity. Each section of the module would not be graded in any way. The main goal of the proposal is to spread awareness of important issues to incoming students at the University.

There have been some mixed reactions at present among the student community. Although most people seem to be in favour of such a module, some have suggested other sections that should be included, and others have criticised the lack of a need to pass the module.

One anonymous poster on Dunfess writes: “What that proposal needs to include is advice and resources for employability, housing, general life skills and most importantly, mental wellbeing. Think its [sic] a good start but it needs to consider other issues over and above the four elements recommended.”

Another anonymous poster writes:

“I think it’s very important to implement a pass or fail element should this go ahead. Without it, it becomes useless and per-formative without tackling any real issues. […] The people who really need to be educated on these issues will simply click through the module in order to matriculate without taking the content in, and without being properly educated on it.”

These are definitely some interesting questions being raised in the public sphere regarding the module. In the proposal, Cameron Irons wrote that he aimed to keep the module short, but perhaps a longer module would be more beneficial if it helps to communicate the content effectively on several important issues. One particular suggestion does intrigue me, though — that the module should include “general life skills”. With the university experience being so varied, it is difficult to pinpoint what might be meant by this – things like cooking and cleaning, or things like rent and tax?

The points made by several anonymous posters about the lack of a pass/fail element are interesting too. While a lack of specific grading itself may be useful, as new students may not feel particularly welcomed to the university by a low grade, it is important that they would be able to demonstrate their learning and understanding of the content. And as the quoted anonymous poster explained, it could be easily clicked through for the sake of progression, with the incoming students not having learned anything about these important issues.

It's important to remember that these are only the opinions that have been made public. It will be interesting to see the full feedback and suggestions after the poll has ended, and ultimately whether the University will accept the proposal and work towards creating the module.

Dani McFawns


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