BY SALONEE MISTRY
Popular student Facebook groups Monash Love Letters and Monash StalkerSpace have been flooded with complaints by students enrolled in psychology, under the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Services at Monash University.
The students have expressed unhappiness over inconsistencies in marking, delayed lecture recordings and lack of communication by staff.
Third year psychology student Sonya Luker* said knowing she is not alone has provided some support.
“I have had these negative emotions about the course since my first year and now everyone is talking about it - I kind of feel validated,” Ms Luker said.
“Since the semester is online, the problems have become more obvious.
“Previously we could rock up to the tutors and other classmates and ask questions and clear our doubts, but not being able to go on campus has made it extremely difficult.”
According to student complaints posted on Facebook, psychology students' stress levels have risen with the shift to online learning.
Second year student Kathy Stevens* said this semester has particularly been difficult for her with the extra stress of COVID-19.
“There are a lot of basic things students need but don’t receive,” Ms Stevens said.
“For example, lectures are often a week late, meaning that in some weeks we have to learn double the content.
“Not to mention we receive lecture slides that don’t match the lecturers’ slides, so we can’t follow along.”
However, Ms Stevens understands the tutors may have a heavy workload exacerbated by the shift to online delivery.
“Certain staff in the department are involved in several psych units and so they are really struggling to give us the resources we need,” she said.
“I can understand it is hard for them, but the students are really struggling with the lack of support.”
Like many of her peers, Ms Stevens’ greatest issues are assignment-related.
Psychology students have alleged they often receive different marks for their assignments, despite answering questions identically and receiving similar feedback.
In addition, some students are still awaiting their mid-semester evaluation marks, an exam which took place more than a month ago.
Third year student Alana Stan* said the lack of a proper rubric and criteria for the assignments is another cause for concern.
“The ambiguous criteria for assignments leaves a lot of us not knowing what is exactly expected from us,” Ms Stan said.
“Sometimes the criteria doesn’t show the allocation of marks and so when you do get your results you have no idea where you lost marks or where you were awarded marks.”
Ms Stan added their assignments are not based on the lecture content, which is only tested during the final examination.
Second year student Samina Sadik* said the lack of communication from the faculty has left her frustrated.
“In my first year, I thought I had not caught up with the ways of the university and as such didn’t make much of it,” Ms Sadik said.
“Nothing has changed this semester either.”
When contacted by MOJO News, a Monash University spokesperson said the university is aware of the concerns voiced by a “small group” of students studying psychology and is “working closely” with the appropriate faculty to address it.
“Lecture slides are often produced ahead of time, on top of prescribed readings, to allow students the opportunity to use them in their lecture preparation,” the spokesperson said.
“It is made clear to students that the content of the slides may be adapted by the lecturer by the time the lecture is recorded.
“All our academics are working hard to adapt learning materials, assessments, workshops, tutorials and engagement activities to this new environment, and our dedicated unit coordination team are continuing to support students during this challenging time.”
The spokesperson added the grading and feedback procedures are “robust and fair” and the university has numerous feedback mechanisms available to students.
In addition to student representatives on the Academic Programs Committee, students can also provide feedback to units on the Feed Forward forum.
The forum is a digital solution the staff can employ to get immediate feedback from the students, prior to the release of the Student Evaluation of Teaching Units (SETU) survey.
However, Ms Sadik claimed the faculty has failed to respond to the multiple emails she sent at the start of the semester.
“There is no proper contact with tutors, and posting in the forum simply falls on deaf ears,” she said.
“How long should I keep pursuing the same thing?”
*Pseudonyms have been used for all the interviewees at their request, for fear of repercussions