Archive for August 8, 2019

Repeat Message..

Posted in Education, Maynooth with tags , , , on August 8, 2019 by telescoper

Back in Ireland and straight away it’s the repeat examination period at Maynooth University, which started yesterday. My first one was yesterday, actually, for just one student, and I’ve been virtuous and marked the script already.

I’ll be marking quite a few more repeat exams over the next week or so, so here’s a message for any student anywhere taking any at this time:

I thought it was worth mentioning for any university teachers out there reading this that although they are held at roughly the same time of year in the two countries there’s a difference in the way resits are handled in the institutions I’ve worked at in the United Kingdom and the way repeats work here in Maynooth which is implied by the slightly different name.

In UK institutions with which I am familiar students generally take resits when, because they have failed one or more examinations the previous May they have not accumulated sufficient credits to proceed to the next year of their course. Passing the resit allows them to retrieve lost credit, but their mark is generally capped at a bare pass. That means the student gets the credit they need for their degree but their average (which determines whether they get 1st, 2nd or 3rd class Honours) is negatively affected.

This is the case unless a student has extenuating circumstances affecting the earlier examination, such as bad health or family emergency, in which case they take the resit as a `sit’, i.e. for the first time with an uncapped mark.

Here in Maynooth, repeat examinations are generally taken for the same reason as in the UK but the mark obtained is not capped. Indeed, some students – though not many – elect to take the repeat examination even if they passed earlier in the summer, in order to increase their average mark. Another difference is that all students have to pay a fee  for each repeat they take; resits in the UK do not attract additional fees.

When I told former colleagues at Cardiff in the pub last week that repeat examinations are not capped they didn’t like the idea because they felt that it would lead to many students playing games, i.e. deliberately not taking exams in May with the intention of spreading some of their examination  load into August. There’s not much sign of students actually doing that here, to be honest, for the reason that the results from the repeat examination period are not confirmed until early September so that students that deploy this strategy do not know whether they are going to be able to start their course until a couple of weeks before term. That could cause lots of problems securing accommodation, etc, so it doesn’t seem to me to be a good ploy.

Anyway, I’d welcome comments for or against whether resits/repeats should be capped/uncapped and on what practice is adopted in your institution.


The Coles of Arms

Posted in Biographical, History with tags , , , , , , , , on August 8, 2019 by telescoper

Sparked by an exchange on Twitter last week with another person (who has the same surname as me) on the subject of heraldry, I did a little bit of googling about and found a little snippet I found quite intriguing. Although the name Coles is found all over England and Wales, with strong concentrations in the South West of England and in Northamptonshire, according to this source the name is of Anglo Saxon origin and is first recorded in Yorkshire as the family name of George Coles, which was dated 1555, in the “Register of the Freemen of the City of York”, during the reign of Queen Mary 1. The same source also points out that a branch of the Coles family subsequently moved to Ireland, though it gives no details (unless you pay for them).

I subsequently found that in Burkes General Armory (which details all the Coats of Arms registered in the UK and Ireland) the first entry under the surname Coles is indeed in Ireland, where it was confirmed in 1647. That date is during the Irish Confederate Wars, a couple of years before Oliver Cromwell arrived in Ireland with his army. One might surmise that this particular branch of the Coles lineage was somehow caught up in these hostilities, probably on the English side.

Anyway the description of the corresponding Coat of Arms, in typically cryptic heraldic language is:

Gu. on a chev. betw. two lions’ heads erased or, ten ogresses. Crest — A snake wreathed about a marble pillar ppr. garnished or.

The first part refers to the escutcheon (shield): Gu is short for Gules, a tincture (red), and it describes the main colour of the field of the escutcheon; chev is for chevron (an inverted v-shape), one of the Honorable Ordinaries (basic designs for the escutcheon). This and the two lions’ heads are described as `or’ (andother tincture, meaning gold-coloured); erased means `without the body’; an ogress is a special case of a roundel (filled circle) in which the circle is black (the word `pellet’ is also used).

The Crest is self-explanatory other than that `ppr’ is short for `proper’ which means, roughly speaking, `natural-coloured’. I’m not of the significance of the snake and the marble pillar.

Here is a mock-up of the whole thing:

There are several other entries for the name Coles in Burkes General Armory and I’m certainly not claiming that I have the right to use this Coat of Arms but I am intrigued by the Irish connection with the name Coles and will see what more I can find out about it.