Compulsory Politics and International Relations Courses Running Without Tutorials
By Alex Ellwood
Compulsory first year courses POLS1002 and POLS1006 are currently running without tutorials, reducing students’ contact hours and leaving many students feeling academically unsupported.
POLS1002: Introduction to Politics and POLS1006: Introduction to International Relations have both been timetabled to run without any tutorials this semester. This directly conflicts with the information presented on Programs and Courses, which states that both courses are supposed to have 12 hours of tutorials a semester. This discrepancy brings the total contact hours of each course down from 36 to 24 hours a semester.
It is currently unclear why this discrepancy has occurred. An ANU Spokesperson told Observer that “courses at ANU, and their delivery, change from time to time” noting that any changes are “intended to enhance the student experience.”
Aryanne Caminschi, a College of Arts & Social Sciences (CASS) Representative and past POLS1002 student, stressed the importance of tutorials to ANU’s courses. Speaking to Observer, Caminschi stressed that “tutorials are vital for students to have small-group question time and opportunities to learn. It allows them to synthesise lecture themes and concepts with readings”. Caminschi told Observer that as a CASS Representative, she is “currently arranging a meeting time with the dean” to discuss the lack of tutorials.
Caminschi’s sentiments were echoed by many first year students. Will Takchi, a POLS1002 student, told Observer that having tutorials “would make it far easier to really understand what the important information is”, noting that tutorials would help students “in developing the ability to discuss the concepts [they’re] learning”. Takchi continued to state that he “frankly [doesn’t] feel that supported in the class”, explaining that the “lack of help and guidance in regards to assessments” has made it “challenging to meet the expectations of my classes and get the marks I want”.
Another POLS1002 student, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Observer that while the course has given her a “deeper understanding” of political concepts and is “useful and interesting”, she feels “hindered in terms of getting a clearer understanding” as it is “difficult to have questions answered” in the course.
Similarly, an anonymous POLS1006 student told Observer that she “receives more academic support because of the group chat than [from] the school”. The student said that this is thanks to many past International Relations students who offer support and answer questions in the group chat.
Despite not having tutorials, the POLS1002 course currently has five tutors. Caminschi explains that the role of tutors without tutorials includes answering student emails. However, Caminschi notes that this is “a very limited role, and does not utilise the expertise that tutors have.”
POLS1006 does not have any tutors this semester. When asked why POLS1002 was assigned tutors, and POLS1006 was not, the University did not clarify.
An ANU Spokesperson has encouraged any students with concerns about course changes to contact their course reps, program convenor, Head of School, or the College’s Associate Dean for Education. The Spokesperson stated that the students’ respective academic colleges “will be happy to assist students with any questions or concerns they have.”
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