By Franciszek Dziduch
Starting this semester, the Capstone infrastructure is now run entirely on Portal, using a new mode that will digitally process Capstone papers and grades. While AUC’s Class of 2023 will digitally register to the Capstone course on Canvas during the course registration period, the new system will allow the students to enter the supervisor’s details and will serve as a medium between the student body and their assessors, who will have access to the submitted paper.
Before, it was the AUC’s Capstone Team (CT) that would serve as a mediator for the Final Thesis between the students and the faculty: although the students would submit their papers to Canvas, the CT would have to download the documents and send them to the assessors, as well as process the grades themselves through paperwork.
The previous year, such a system was particularly troublesome for AUC’s Class of 2022. Many students received their grades after a month of delay. Wade Geary, the Head of the CT, confirms that there were issues and estimates that “a few dozen students should have received their grades sooner”.
Although the deadline of releasing the Capstone grades was 14 July, Science major Grazia Maria Sourkhan received her grade only on 16 August; Social Science major Nick Bolland was informed about his grade on 1 August, while for Science major Aadia Kallio it was 27 July. These students complain over the lack of clear communication with the CT and that it took many emails inquiring about the Capstone grades until the CT would respond. They further add that the CT never explained to them the reason for the delay. For some, this had troublesome consequences: Sourkhan missed two months of student financing, as she was unable to provide proof of graduation from AUC.
Geary explains that there were many reasons for the grades being delayed, such as extensions granted to the students or assessors being on holiday. What additionally happened this year was the CT becoming unexpectedly understaffed at the time of processing the grades. Janey Niemeijer, the Head of Admissions and the Registrar’s Team, had to step in to help and after a while, hired a temporary assistant. Hiring a new person required training – this prolonged the process of Capstone grading, which at the time had to be done by hand.
Geary says that “the idea of moving the system online was to simplify it” and deems the previous system to have been “archaic”. He believes that the strength of moving the system to Portal is that it will replace the “middle person”, which “should definitely speed things up”. He adds that the system will be more transparent to the student regarding what the state of their Capstone is. “Once the Capstone is handed in, they will know who completed what,” he says, and adds that in the past, the CT would have to contact a supervisor or a reader who had not fulfilled their responsibilities. With the Capstone process being moved to Portal, “it should be very clear for the students why the delay is happening, so they can take agenda,” Geary concludes.
In Niemeijer’s opinion, “many of AUC’s processes are outdated and need adjusting”. She opted for the automatisation of the Capstone grading process, rather than being dependent on email correspondence and paperwork. “We’re doing everything we can to avoid such issues next year,” she says.