Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Research colloquium with a cuppa

Fellow blogger and friend, Serena made me realise how much I have started to worship the awesome kick-start from the wonderful wonderful warm cup of coffee. Final exams are around the corner, and i realise that frequent the kitchen to grab a yummy mug at least 3 times each night. She is right its a great "engine-starter”, however unlike her, I restrict my self to the less exotic instant coffee :p

My university just concluded its 11th research colloquium and like all other times, I shall take the time to comment on some of the good, bad, and… ermm. Lets just say, not so nice of the presentations.

Its lovely to see the university organizing its self (eventually) and improve its quality. I strongly believe in the notion that student quality is truly reflected in university quality.

This semesters colloquium saw from improvements: the colloquium is a day long event showcasing student research in psychology. Most research is done as part of course requirement and represents the creative minds of the students of HELP’s psychology program.

1. Improved sign-up mechanism
Kuddos to Edmond Kwok for taking the initiative to develop and host Those of you who do not know, HUCers handles the tedious process of student signups. Thus, it allows students from HELP to sign up for the colloquium sessions.

Sad to see however, that the website is not supported by the university. I am not going to get into a discussion about the politics of this (there certainly is some) but I want to raise the question why.

In terms of improvement, I would like to see the new system bounce an email to each student reminding them of their signup information. It could come as a timely reminder.

Though the next step would be to have an automated attendance checking system (at the entrance), but that I reckon would not happen due to budgetary concerns.

Good job Edmund!

2. Key note address
Just like the heading, students were left guessing till the last moment: “by whom?”

Ok seriously, who would want to go for a key note address (unless you want to kill time on a Saturday afternoon) when you don’t know whos talking?

But on the brighter side, at least there such a thing. I reckon that future marketing campaigns from the university will carry the information about the talk that happened (no pun intended).

I am not sure if this “talk” took place though. I dident attend ;)

3. Presentation arena and atmosphere
This is an area that I feel needs to be improved. There are a couple of things that dosent rock.

a. Formal dress code:
While formal dress code was made mandatory for the presenters, it seems a little strange that judges, chair persons, and attendants (those taking attendance and ushering) lack the kind of dressing that the occasion calls. I shall not mention names, but whats up with this particular chair-person who wore jeans and t?

Formal dressing should apply to all, in my opinion. Education should be communicated though role models. And if the role models feel that its not that important to be dressed formally, why should the students feel any different?

b. Stage area:
This needs to look decent. The stage in 3 (out of 6) of the venues looked like a total wreck. The multitude of wires made it look like an engineering disaster. I guess some of you may not agree with me, and feel that how “neat” hall looks is secondary. However, keep in mind, that the colloquium is a showcase of the best of student work. This is an opportunity that students take to ‘show off’ their talents.

I know that some of you will be quick to point out the typical students don’t take such an attitude towards colloquium and that students have started treating the event as just another day to get by. But that blame really lies in the way colloquium is presented to students.

I feel that the sprit of the colloquium lies in what its made to represent to the students. If the university slacks in its organization of the event, students will respond in a similar way.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe that the sole organiser, Winnee, (who’s been whisking her magic for a long time now) has been and is doing an absolutely amazing job. Colloquium has come a very long way under her guidance. The pace at which she has organized events is something that we should learn to envy. But, she could do more with increased support from other faculty members.

For one, a change in attitude by some staffers who have been quoted as saying out in their class “oh damn, colloquium is a waste of time”. That kind of attitude doesn’t help.

I propose an upgrading of colloquium, as a day of celebration on the student calendar. I propose the creation of a colloquium committee, (much like any other event). The committee should be represented by both members of the faculty and a healthy proportion of both junior and senior students.

I feel that involving students into the creation process will not just generate ideas, but will keep students actively interested in the success of the day.

4. Food!
Kuddos to the Peer Support Group, for providing refreshments (at a cost though). I have heard complains about the cost burning a hole in the pocket. I think its time for more variety.

I feel that the involvement of a club (PSG) in the colloquium is an example of student participation. Its good to see the PSG turn up and make the delicious dishes available to the participants. I am hoping that the next colloquium has more clubs participating (all not selling food of course).

5. Guests, Outsiders, and Visitors:
I touched on this during my last post on colloquium. The department could do better and play an active role in opening up this event to members of the public. It’s a great marketing strategy if you think about it. Research colloquium showcases what you talk about in the paid adverts and road shows. What’s a better way of increasing public awareness about a psychologist-to-be (their sometimes-quassi experiments) than by inviting them to colloquium.

It time we had industry leaders, lecturers/researchers of other universities, government spys, members from the ISA, interested citizens, could all be present to listen to the student achievers present their research. Heck, i
want my mommy to see me present :D

The upgrade of the audience would naturally encourage both staff and students to produce better quality research.

6. Staff presentation:
There’s so much of staff research (at least that’s what the brochure says). Why not use colloquium to present this research? I am sure staff members will be equally excited as students to present their work. This has many advantages.

-Helps students learn first hand about how the pros do it. What a better way to improve your next presentation than by watching the gurus take a shot at it.

-Help those present learn about ongoing university research, thus increasing the overall awareness of ongoing research.

-Boost the self-esteem of staff members. Why leave all that hard work hidden. Lets hear it.

-Opportunity for students to know about research that the university is undertaking. Might give potential ‘future’ researchers some ideas.

-Gives some staff members a taste of what it means to be a student. Lets face it, some talk a lot about research presentations, when they themselves would be nervous to present.

-Encourages staff to indulge in more research work (in case the brochure isent that accurate).

That is all! …. For now…

For those of you who may be students like me, shame on you for wasting time reading blogs. Shouldn’t you be reading your texts or something ;)

And since you have come so far, good luck for exams.

See you all after the 28th! :D


mythsn_legends said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
define_me said...

Absolutely nothing wrong with instant coffee. It's my primary source of caffeine too... =)

mythsn_legends said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steph said...

shame on you for wasting time blogging when you should be exercising your brain cells somewhere else, like preparing for exams???!
see you after 28th! and all the best!'re at the final league my friend!! woohOOO

mythsn_legends said...

I totally agree with you abt the sign up procedure! Quite a big improvement there!
Yeah, the keynote speech was quite a surprise to me too.....I enquired about it and all i got was a name....*shakes head*
Would love to see students from other unis (I'd like to see some'll fire our students up a bit don't you think? Heh) and staff present their research too....this would definitely give the colloquium a boost; more interesting too!
Good luck for exams! Freedom is just around the corner! ;)

edmund.kwok said...

Thanks for the mention Raam. Really appreciate it. But my name abit the wrong la the spelling, the bottom bit, ah, that one right spelling though :-)

What's with the uni not supporting HUCers.Com? Will talk to you off the record about that, hehe.

Will definately take into consideration the suggestion to bounce emails to students who signed up. But that is IF the system is used again next semester. If there are ways to improve the sign up and attendence taking process at the expence of HUCers.Com, the latter will have to bow out, hehe.

Well I think using a computer to take attendence, checking it off the sign ups database would improve things. Maybe probably add in a barcode scanner (to scan student ID) to spice things up! Something more cost efficient? 100 bucks webcam!

Oh well, suggestions and ideas remain in its abstract state unless acted upon. I'm willing to make it happen, but alas, directive MUST comes from above :-) [No, I'm not talking about God, :p]


Anonymous said...

It's good to hear that there are people like you who take research and presentations seriously. Where I'm from, students' research is a TOTAL joke, man...sad sad thing, really.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Your last three paragraphs made me lol!


Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Your last three paragraphs made me lol!


astrorat said...

Dear All,

i am back for a quick look at what’s been going on :) i have survived exams so far. 38 done (in the past 4 years) and 2 to go! :D

Dear define_me,

Instant coffee rocks! there’s this particular type that i have in which the manufacturer guarantees an "extra" punch! :D

Dear mythsn_legends,

good luck for exams! i am pretty sure that ure gona have lots of fun at North Texas!

Dear steph,

hehe :D aww.. i love blogging.. yes yes.. 2 more papers.. aanndd..... :D

Dear Ed!

opps.. my bad in getting the spelling wrong :) i am not sure if uni is gona pay for all the equipment.. plus, it will make the process slower :p you have done an awesome job in making things easy for a lot of people! *YAY*

Dear "anonymous"

where are you from? i would love to hear what student life is like in your uni...

Dear dr. d

its quite ironic isent it :D hehe...

Chiam said...

It's such a shame I discovered your blog so late. I don't think you'll discover this entry at all.

All I wanted to say is that typical students like us in UNISA doesn't take colloquium as another day to go by. We actually agreed that we miss HELP's colloquium. Sure it can be daunting at times (try speaking in front of a full attendance in AE1) but in general, I think I can speak for all that we enjoyed it in the end.

Good point about staff presentations though. It will be interesting to see what the staff came up with, although I'm not sure all the staff are conducting research. I bet Winnee's presentation will be jam packed. Haha.

Anyway, keep up the good work.