The showdown of the trimester

The showdown of the trimester

In the right-hand corner of The Hub, we had students. In the left-hand corner, we had staff. But at the end of the staff and student showdown, everyone went home a winner.

Members of the staff and student panels discuss a range of questions at the showdown event, facilitated by Professor Marc Wilson.

This week a panel of staff and students got together to hammer out the gritty stuff about why they do the things they do both in and out of the classroom.

Hear what a staff member and a student learnt by being involved in the showdown.

Jerry van Lier, Master’s student from the School of Geography

Within the environment of university, there are many diverse pressures as a student—from stressing about assessments and exams, to working out how you will make rent this week from your low paid, part-time job or other dramas occurring in your social life.

As students, it’s easy to forget the stress that others face such as our teachers. When things aren’t going quite the way we had planned, it often can be hard to see beyond the narrow darkness in that tunnel we get into.

The showdown was a great example of highlighting many of the life pressures as a student and recognising that these still exist for many of the staff that guide and teach us. As a second-year thesis student, I have certainly faced many challenges that the average person you walk past coming out of their office on The Terrace wouldn’t understand. But then again, you never know what sort of day anyone is having.

It occurred to me during the showdown that life is busy! Everyone faces demands in some sort of way and that’s driven by society. When do you ever interact with someone who tells you that “life is easy and chill at the moment”? Not at Victoria anyway. Dealing with the stress, depression and anxiety at university is something that everyone deals with whether they are willing to acknowledge it or not.

But I’ve realised that the best way of getting through is awareness. It’s so important to understand what you or a friend might be going through and being a support mechanism is a great form of helping someone through a tough time.

Dr John Randal, Associate Dean—Students at Victoria Business School

If you take any academic staff member, you can be certain of one thing, he or she was a student for a LONG time!  That said, the study environment then probably bore little resemblance to today’s—differences in the social and financial environments particularly, but also nature of assessment in schools.

With the internet sitting in our pockets these days, not to mention our desktops, there’s an overwhelming amount of information around us at all times. Throw in that we’re all time-poor, I think it is probably true that we don’t explain ourselves as much as would be useful.

Students have a lot going on in their personal lives, some of which they may not wish to share with staff when asking for an extension, help understanding a concept, or when skipping a class.

Staff set assessment tasks, and allocate marks to them without explaining why, for example, an exam is used, or an assignment which takes ages is worth so little towards the final mark. When staff reply to a student email a few days after it was received (or not at all), we don’t explain the myriad of non-teaching related tasks we did in between.

The showdown was a good place to START breaking down some of these barriers. I do think the conversation needs to broaden, and to reach more people, but I’m glad we tried. I’d love to see this as part of the annual cycle of activities here at Victoria—if we better understand one another, I’m sure our collective experience of this often stressful environment will be greatly enhanced.

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