“In light of the findings and testimonies received, the committee therefore recommends that Dr. Kanakulya should be referred to the Appointments Board for Disciplinary action on the following offences;…” Recommends the Investigations Committee as per the report.
On the 25th of April, 2019, the Dean of the School of Liberal and Performing Arts received a petition with complaints against the teaching and assessment of the EHR3102 (Critical Thinking) Course Unit in Semester One and also concerns regarding the management of the course unit and the conduct of the lecturer in handling the students grievances.
The petition raised by three students; Ssekanyo, Bameka Prossy and Mutebi Robert on behalf of the Day Program Students accuses the lecturer Dr. Kanakulya Dickson of Under-teaching the Day Program students, violating examination and course work rules, favoritism and being cold and hostile towards the students.
The School of Liberal and Performing Arts Heads of Departments meeting held on 17th June, 2019 considered the issue and decided to constitute a committee to investigate the matter and guide decision making on resolving students’ complaints and other related issues.
Headed by Dr. Julius Kikooma, School of Psychology (CHUSS) as Chairperson, an Investigations Committee was constituted on June 19th, 2019 to:
1. To establish whether the concerned member of staff under taught and to what extent he did, _ if at all.
2. To ascertain whether the concerned member of staff breached examination and course rules and to what extent he did, if at all.
3. To ascertain whether the concerned member of staff displaced himself with his undergraduate students in respect of lecturing.
4. To inquire into the concerned member of staff’s ethical conduct towards his students of EHR 3102 course in terms of hostility towards students.
5. To ascertain whether members of staff instigated students in order to advance or influence this matter of EHR 3102 Critical Thinking.
The report was compiled as a result of the investigations conducted with effect from 2nd – 18th July 2019.
The committee studied documents provided by the office of the Dean of the School of Liberal and Performing Arts as well as made wide inquiries about the complaints highlighted in the terms of reference. This was done through interviews and by listening to testimonies of witnesses who were mentioned in the various documents /interviews and were believed to have knowledge on the actions of the Lecturer (Dr. Kanakulya) who taught the course.
The Committee established the method of work as below;
1) Review of the documents provided by the Dean o f the School Liberal and Performing Arts which included complaint letters from the students, communication between Dean of the School Liberal and Performing Arts; the Head of Department Philosophy and the Lecturer o f EHR3102 (Dr. Dickson’Kanakulya), Results sheet of EHR3102, and minutes of departmental meetings among others (see the list of documents that the Investigation Committee reviewed in Appendix I).
2) Face to face interactions with the following categories of students and staff from the Department of Philosophy (Appendix II):
a. Students who complained in the undated letter received by the Dean on29th April 2019
b. Class coordinators and students who disassociated themselves from the complaint on Dr. D. Kanakulya.
c. The evening student (Ms Irene Nakibirige) who taught day students EHR3102 Critical Thinking on behalf of the Lecturer
d. Tenywa Pius a student quoted in the Head of Department letter
- The respondent, Dr. Dickson Kanakulya who taught EHR3102 Critical Thinking
f. Staff member who is alleged to have instigated students against fellow staff
g The Head, Department of Philosophy
h. The Dean, School of Liberal and Performing Arts
- Scrutiny of the students answer scripts (183 scripts) including the three students alleged to have been favored with high grades in EHR 3102 Critical Thinking
- Coursework scripts for EHR3102 Critical Thinking – 193 scripts
2.5 Defence by the Respondent, Dr. Kanakulya on the teaching and assessment o f EHR 3102 Critical Thinking
The Lecturer told the Committee that the course had problems before and that every lecturer who taught complained about by the students. He was then given to teach the course and he decided to change the teaching approach to experiential learning which he thought would work better.
The course is similar to logic which is mathematical and needs students with a background of mathematics. He also applied group work methods. He said there was a summarized course outline because he was still developing it before releasing it.
He shared a final copy of the course outline with the head of department and the students. He informed the committee that he gave the students a series of course works. The first was given in the first week of the semester but many students were not around. The day class had a challenge of Lecture space and they were assigned CTF1 which had no chairs for a while, and later relocated to Livingstone Hall because the class was big
Attendance: The Lecturer did not do roll call and neither did he provide attendance lists where the students would write their names. The reason he never recorded attendance is because only half the students would attend. He missed only 3 weeks when the class had challenges o f looking for lecture rooms, but he taught beyond normal hours. He taught the course alone and only gave the students practical work, through peer learning which was conducted by identifying and using students who showed more interest in the course. He denied the allegations of having sent a student from the Evening program to deliver lectures for him to the Day class.
Assessment of the course and awarding of marks: Students were given an assignment of a diet experiment which was about gut reasoning. It was one of the group work assignments given to one group of students while other students got different group assignments. The groups were of 4-6 students and they were assessed at the group level and participants of a particular group scored the same mark.
He said he gave a total of 3 course works and a test to the students, with the first course work at the start of the semester, which was failed by the whole class and therefore cancelled. He then computed the final coursework mark by adding up coursework (presentation) and class participation.
The Lecturer also stated that he was not aware of any student who was caught cheating and her paper torn in that test and that the coursework results were displayed by the head of department. He stated that he would check the marks for variations in regard to the complaints raised by the students and revert to the committee. He refuted the allegations that he had students he favored.
Committee findings and Conclusions on Terms of Reference.
ToR 1: Establish whether the concerned member of staff under taught and to what extent he did, if at all.
From the testimony of students (both complainants and witnesses) the committee interacted with, the member of staff in charge of EHR3102: Critical Thinking had not more than 5 lectures to the DAY class during 2018/2019 academic year. Additionally, 3 to 4 lectures were given by a one Irene Nakibirige, a student on the Evening program. The number of lectures given to DA Y Program students was far below the recommended 45 lecture hours required under the semester system.
That even if the 5 lectures were double it would add up to only 10 hours which is still below the recommended lecture hours. The lectures given could hardly cover the contents and semester load. However, it was not possible to know the course content since no course outline was availed to both students and the committee.
The teaching was not uniform for students on Day and Evening program, the evening class was ahead of the day class by about 4 topics.
24 ToR 2 : Ascertain whether the concerned member of staff breached examination and course work rules and to what extent he did, if at all
On coursework assessment Students who interacted with the committee raised concerns about the basis on which the concerned lecturer made coursework assessment, and therefore marks awarded to students.
Students were given one test assessment, but the final assessment includes class participation and presentations, the basis of which remains unclear given the limited interaction the lecturer had with the class. In addition, from the testimonies given by students, there was no clear assessment criteria for coursework.
Given that no course outline was provided, the plan for coursework assessment was not indicated as required. It is not clear how many coursework assignments/tests were supposed to be administered for the final grading of the course. This was a breach of the General Academic/Examinations Regulations No. 1.0 on Coursework Assessments (Refer to the Prospectus,2007/2010 5th Edition page 128)
The concerned staff supplied examination question paper which also served as answer booklet for Section A of the examination. Students were required to write their names on the question/answer booklet, in contravention of examination rules which says “Do not write your name anywhere in the answer book, hence only your Student’s Number and Registration Number should be written on the answer book”.
In addition, subjecting students to the same examination for which they did not receive similar content and instruction would be unfair. Moreover, students did not receive the course outline to enable them do private reading.
ToR 3: Ascertain whether the concerned member of staff displaced himself with his undergraduate students in respect of lecturing
All the students the committee interacted with confirmed that Ms. Irene Nakibirige, an undergraduate student from the Evening Program (EHR3102: Critical Thinking) delivered lectures to the day class. In addition, Ms. Irene Nakibirige also testified having taught for about one month and was sent by the concerned lecturer.
ToR 4: Inquire into the concerned member of staff’s ethical conduct towards his students of EHR3102 course in terms of hostility towards students
According to the testimonies received from the students, the Lecturer is not readily available to students and was referred to as not approachable and biased. The students felt that the lecturer was hostile to some students on issues of assessment – awarding of marks. The Lecturer himself confessed that he is a no nonsense person to students. “I am not good at chatting g with students. My policy is when you bring something clumsy, I send you out,” he said.
ToR 5: Ascertain whether members of staff instigated students in order to advance or influence this matter of HER 3102 Critical Thinking
There were meetings held by the Head of Department to resolve students’ complaints regarding missing marks, including one where students were advised to submit a written complaint and another meeting where students were mobilized to write a letter retracting the complaint letter. No other staff was mentioned by students to have influenced the matters of EHR3102: Critical Thinking.
- 6. Recommendations
In light of the findings and testimonies received, the committee therefore recommends that Dr. Kanakulya should be referred to the Appointments Board for Disciplinary action on the following offences;
- Refusal, negligence or omitting to perform one’s official duties and/ or discharge official responsibilities duly assigned contrary to Section 5.7(4) of the Human Resource Manual
- Persistent late coming and/ or absence from duty without permission contrary to section 5.7 (6) of the Human Resource Manual
- Acts or omissions that are prejudicial to the proper performance of duties or the University’s image or status, whether within or outside the University contrary to Section 5.7(8) o f the Human Resource manual.
- Breaching or contravening the University’s prescribed operating rules, regulations and procedures likely to cause financial loss or damage of University property contrary to section 5.7(14) of the Human Resource Manual
- Non adherence to any other University policies contrary to section 5.7(22) of the Human Resource manual.
Although the committee was tasked to investigate only EHR3102: Critical Thinking, information coming in from respondents points to equally serious matters outside the TOR o f the committee such as;
Nearly half of the class have missing marks for EHR3101 Research Projects and that the committee did not see evidence of action taken on missing results including those of EHR3102 during the departmental meetings that approved the results.
- That the Head of Department does not use his official office to conduct Administration including attending to students and staff. That he instead prefers to sit in the academic office which he shares with a colleague and ends up inconveniencing the colleague when meeting students from there. He is therefore not available in the Head of Department Office.
- There are challenges with records keeping. The committee could not find records of staff under investigation on his file at departmental level but instead got some records from the School.
That with regards to those other findings which were not within the TORs, the committee recommends that there is a need for further investigations into the Management of the Department of Philosophy.