TCD to investigate after professor criticises students’ answers

Dr Clemens Ruthner thought his Facebook page was set to private not public

Trinity College Dublin says a full and formal inquiry will be carried out and further steps have been taken to ensure the integrity of the examinations after an associate professor’s comments criticising exam answers given by students appeared on his Facebook page.  Photograph: Frank Miller

Trinity College Dublin says a full and formal inquiry will be carried out and further steps have been taken to ensure the integrity of the examinations after an associate professor’s comments criticising exam answers given by students appeared on his Facebook page. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is to begin an inquiry after an associate professor’s comments criticising students’ exam answers appeared on his Facebook page.

Dr Clemens Ruthner who works at the department of Germanic studies said he deeply regrets the Facebook posts.

Replying to a request for comment by The Irish Times, Dr Ruthner said his privacy settings were accidentally set to public, and he never meant to share his posts publicly.

“I only meant to share some exam answers with some friends who are in the teaching profession as well, out of a certain frustration while grading exams, asking for their opinion.

“I am a devoted teacher and I found it sad that after a term of intensive lecturing, I would still encounter problems with rather basic knowledge questions. I was hoping for productive feedback from my friends how to achieve better results in the future.”

Dr Ruthner, who has twice been nominated for the Provost’s Teaching Award, said the post was not meant to “hurt anybody’s feelings” or to “mock” the students.

“I was not being offensive, but rather tried to take it with friendly humour. Having said that, I can only offer my sincere apologies if this came across in the wrong way.

“It was certainly never meant like that. And I will do my best to help students improve their learning strategies in the future, as I always do.”

In an email seen by The Irish Times, Dr Caitríona Leahy, head of the department of Germanic studies, wrote to students saying: “On behalf of the department I wish to condemn in the strongest possible terms what has occurred and apologise unreservedly for the breach of trust.”

A statement issued by TCD on Wednesday said: “As soon as the matter came to our attention, the member of staff was immediately instructed to delete the comments.

“We have communicated with all students in the department condemning in the strongest possible terms what has occurred and apologising unreservedly for the breach of trust.

“The department is taking the matter very seriously. A full and formal inquiry will be carried out and further steps have been taken to ensure the integrity of the examinations process.”