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#Elebocconi2021: Department Council debate

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On April 13th, Maria Francesca Martini from TEAM and Lorenzo Vergari, from B.Lab, candidates for the Department Council, took part in an online debate event organized by Bocconi Tv in collaboration with Tra i Leoni for the upcoming #Elebocconi2021, which will be held on the 21st and 22nd of April. Here is a summary of the main points in case you missed it!

*Unless explicitly indicated in quotes, both the moderator’s questions and the candidates’ responses have been reworded/paraphrased for length and clarity.*

From TEAM, Maria Francesca Martini

  • 3rd year BIEM class representative
  • from Sardinia, Italy
  • member & previous president of Cultur.it Bocconi consulting association
  •  first year TEAM member

From B.Lab, Lorenzo Vergari

  • 3rd year Law class representative
  • from Treviso, Veneto, Italy
  • member of Corporate Law Academy association & Bocconi Students Against Organized Crime
  • member of two Bocconi legal journals: Bocconi Legal Papers, Online Journal on Comparative & European Public Law

Which new features implemented by Bocconi to face the COVID-19 emergency would you like to maintain after the pandemic?

B.LAB – LV:

  • Allow the possibility to follow lectures at a distance for students in certain special circumstances: students with serious illness, students undertaking internships or exchanges, or students playing sports at a competitive level.
  • Grant access to recorded lectures for “sufficiently complex” subjects — determined by student representatives and approved by the course committee.
  • Create “virtual classrooms” for students who are “in debt” with exams with access to pre-recorded lectures.

TEAM – MFM:

  • Increase the amount of group and individual assignments.
  • Make class recordings available to students in extenuating circumstances: illness and mental health problems, bereavement, students pursuing internships during the academic year, and students on exchange semesters.

What are your suggestions for improving the transparency of the exam-grading process, exam paper shows, and teacher evaluations?

MFM:

  • Give students access to previous years’ course statistics (median grade, grade distribution etc.).
  • Standardize the exam paper show process. Give students access to an exam correction and discussion session following the exam and allow always the opportunity for an individual face-to-face meeting with professors concerning the exam.
  • Introduce a new teacher/course evaluation survey to assess the coherence of the materials covered in class with the content of the exam (to be completed between the conclusion of the exam and the communication of the grade).
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LV:

  • Introduce a new questionnaire to evaluate a course’s examination methods to be completed at the end of the session.
  • Add an evaluation to assess the level of language proficiency of professors.
  • Introduce an evaluation questionnaire regarding thesis advisors and establish a helpdesk to address related problems.
  • Introduce more stringent deadlines for professors to publish exam grades.
  • Streamline the paper show process: paper show date must be fixed in advance, no overlap with other didactic activities, and a choice between attending a physical or online paper show.

What are your suggestions to fix the problem of misalignments between exam registration deadlines and the communication of past exam or project grades? How will you address the problem of students cancelling an exam for serious reasons and losing their opportunity to take a midterm/partial exam?

LV:

  • Establishment of stricter deadlines for the communication of grades — this includes exam grades as well as assignment or group project grades.
  • Introduce more flexible “ad hoc” appeals for students in special circumstances (ex: for students who are hospitalized or other similar cases)
  • Introduce the division of oral exams exam into “shifts” so that students know in advance the time frame in which they will be examined (particularly in the School of Law).

MFM:

  • Establish a defined procedure, potentially through Help & Contact, to allow students to un-register for exams without losing partial grades or the status of attending student for reasons related to physical or mental illness, bereavement, or other special circumstances.
  • Implement an additional exam session for students who have suffered a prolonged period of illness to aid them in not falling behind with exams & graduating on time.

What can be improved about the ECDL and Language certification processes?

MFM:

  • Standardize the Bocconi language certification conversion procedure with the common European framework so as to not put students who are taking/have obtained an external language certification at a disadvantage when converting into Bocconi grades.

LV:

  • Facilitate the process of obtaining the ECDL certification by increasing the number of ECDL test slots and include the cost of obtaining ECDL certification in the cost of tuition.
  • Obtain the recognition of the TOEFL “home edition” language certification.
  • Increase the number of available places in courses geared toward the DELF and DELE certifications.
  • Introduce an extension for achieving the ECDL certification for the current academic year.
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Both TEAM and B.Lab have included the possibility to introduce a “trial period” for elective courses as a proposal in their programs. What do you say about this?

LV:

  • Introduce a trial period consisting of a pre-recorded lecture that introduces the subject and outlines the key topics of the course. This could extend to all elective courses.  
  • In the case of Master programs, plan to introduce a more “meritocratic” method for course registration to replace the current “first come first served” system.
  • Introduce a number of reserved places in each elective for the degree program that is “nearest” to the course.

MFM:

  • Introduce a week-long trial period for elective courses at the start of the semester to provide for a more efficient allocation of students to elective courses and allow students to be satisfied with their plan of studies.

Do you think that a buddy program for freshmen students would be helpful?

MFM:

  • Extend the already-existing buddy program program to all schools (including Graduate & Law) as well as to non-freshmen to help students help each other in exams, finding internships, or selecting masters programs.

LV:

  • A buddy program for the freshmen is the best way to welcome freshmen both before and upon arriving at Bocconi.

Do you think it will be possible to keep the distance-teaching systems also for closed-number (elective) courses?

LV:

We will fight for the possibility to maintain an in-distance method of teaching for every course, especially in a particular situation that prevents a student from being on campus.

MFM:

This will be the main point of dialogue with the university. It is fundamental for Bocconi to exploit their investment in the distance-learning infrastructure.

Do either of you want to say something that you have not said earlier, summarize your programs, or ask a question to the other candidate? 

MFM:

  • TEAM has the long-term and ambitious goal of allowing students to refuse an exam grade during the course of their studies (once for Graduate & Undergraduate and twice for the School of Law).

LV:

  • B.Lab is proposing a “constructed grade” so that the final course grade depends more equally on the final exam grade and that of individual assignments, group projects, and participation.
  • Increase the flexibility of the “attending student” status so that it is no longer solely based on the presence in the classroom, but on the classwork produced by a student. Maintain the status of “attending student” and the grade of assignments/projects even for students who decide to take the general final exam.
  • Put forward the possibility of an exam “resit”, where students would be able to retake a single exam over the course of their degree.
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LV’s question to MFM: It seems as if your representative association is always very active during the days before the elections or on social networks, but it is absent during the academic year and in the every-day lives of Bocconi students. Why does this happen?

MFM:

B.Lab has been a university representative association for much longer than TEAM, and so it is more structured and has more members. As a member of TEAM, I think we do more work internally than what we share on social media. Since joining, my impression of TEAM is that they focus on long-term and ambitious objectives – such as writing a report on mental illness and focusing on diversity issues.

MFM’s question to LV: Both of our associations have similar goals and proposals, but is there any particular point on which you do not agree, or you feel is completely different from what you are representing?

LV:

I think the intentions and ideals behind your proposals are parallel to ours and we both have the final aim of meeting the needs of students. However, I think that the fact that B.Lab has a larger number of members and a larger number of years behind it is a point of strength for the association.

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