Thursday, 18 September 2008

Computing performance problems

I attended a meeting at SFEU this afternoon to discuss problems with HNC/D Computing at college. There were representatives of HMIE, the Funding Council and SQA (myself) there.

For some time now, the uptake of HNC/D Computing has been declining. The decline has been less than the fall in university applications for Computing subjects but it still has been marked. And the performance indicators (such as student retention and student achievement figures) are not good.

There has been an on-going debate about these problems for some time but yesterday's meeting provided an opportunity for a detailed discussion about the issues, together with some possible solutions.

The problems appears to be caused by a number of factors including the quality of teaching, staff development and training, and the curriculum itself. I have a special responsibility for the curriculum and was particularly interested in this aspect of the discussions. The pass rates in a few specific units are particularly low and I promised to look into this and see if there is anything that can be done to improve the pass rate (without compromising standards).

I offered to create a survey to get some hard facts and figures about the issues and I will do this in the next week or two.

There are issues surrounding Computing in every sector (school, college and university) but it's good to see some positive action taking place to address the problems.


  1. Thanks for the write-up Bobby.

    It was a great day and the attendees got a lot out of it.

    As I've written about elsewhere in FEeducation, it was interesting that no-one pointed the finger at themselves as the problem.

    That tells me there are problems everywhere and that we need a concerted effort to address them.

  2. I enjoyed the day, Tony. I thought I pointed the finger at SQA... we are certainly culpable for the contents and assessment burden in some of the units. But, as your comment infers, the solution will involve us all (teachers, HMIE, SFEU, SQA and others).

  3. Hi Bobby, do you still intend to create the questionnaire (or does it already exist)? I don't recall having seen it. Or have other events overtaken the need for the questionnaire?
    Ron Dillin