I’m not sure which better defines which. Does auto-fail define PDEng 55 or does PDEng 55 define auto-fail?
I’ve failed all three initial assignment submissions this semester, and it certainly wasn’t due to a lack of effort. To put this 100% failure rate in context, 3 friends also share this identical failure rate. Discussion board postings criticizing the quality of marking and mundane reasons for the failed grades have been met with draconian responses or have simply been removed. How ironic for a program that touts its goal of professional education. The atmosphere feels more like the Apple support forums than an engineering education board.
PDEng has always been about referencing and citing supporting information. I try to pretend that I’m writing the assignment for the most inquisitive, impatient 3 year old on the planet. Think something should be common knowledge? Think again. Reference that shit. Think the marker can read past a statement in one sentence and find the supporting evidence in the next? Think again. Make it a run-on sentence if need be, but whatever you do, don’t use a period before finishing up that nukebomb-proof thought.
As an example, let me provide you with just one of the few reasons I failed the latest assignment. It was returned with some rather humorous comments. Among them was the highlighting of a passage and this gem of a comment, ‘Why is this bold?‘ Hmmmm, that’s a really tough question. Not. I didn’t realize using different font effects required explanation. From the comment, it appears as though I need to provide justification for bolding words. I promise I’ll provide explanations for such mind-boggling actions in the future, honest…
PDEng has failed in its objectives. The failure isn’t due to an altogether poor idea or motivating factor. It is very commendable that the University of Waterloo forged ahead to enhance an aspect of the engineering program that isn’t thoroughly taught. However, the execution has meant that any possible benefit of the project has been squandered. Instead of truly educating engineers-in-training and encouraging thoughtful responses to assignments, the tasks have turned into mostly fruitless attempts to appease power-hungry markers. I deem any course where the overarching goal is to write what the marker wants to see, rather than actually learn, a complete, utter failure.
If the University of Waterloo really wants PDEng to be viewed and, more importantly, result in real professional education for engineering students, it must organize the program so that students don’t view it as a form of punishment. Make the assignments actually educate students on the professional and ethical aspects of engineering. Perhaps provide case studies that encourage students to think and analyze, and not simply write the things that will earn them the required ‘Competent’ rating. As it stands, you could fully understand and even convey all the concepts that PDEng attempts to teach, yet still fail assignments due to reasons like the one I mentioned earlier. That sort of ‘incentive’ isn’t conducive to a real effort at learning.
And as a result, I will continue to preach the failures of the PDEng program at all my places of employment. And since I want to inflict maximum damage on the program as it is currently executed, you can be absolutely certain my arguments aren’t in the form of ‘it just sucks’. My personal experiences and reasonable complaints will do far more in any employer’s eye. My only ray of hope comes from the fact that PDEng 55 is the final iteration of the punishment.