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Great expectations: Rethinking the student experience of final year undergraduate projects and dissertations Mick Healey HE Consultant and Researcher and.

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Presentation on theme: "Great expectations: Rethinking the student experience of final year undergraduate projects and dissertations Mick Healey HE Consultant and Researcher and."— Presentation transcript:

1 Great expectations: Rethinking the student experience of final year undergraduate projects and dissertations Mick Healey HE Consultant and Researcher and Laura Lannin Research Assistant University of Gloucestershire, UK new models of curriculum … should all … incorporate research-based study for undergraduates (Ramsden, 2008: 10-11)

2 HE Consultant and Researcher and Emeritus Professor University of Gloucestershire, UK Economic geographer and Director Centre for Active Learning Director HE Academy projects on Undergraduate research and Rethinking final year projects and dissertation Ex-VP for Europe International Society for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning National Teaching Fellow and Senior Fellow HE Academy Advisor to Canadian Federal Government Roundtable on Research, Teaching and Learning in post-Secondary Education (2006) Advisor to National Academy for Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (Ireland) ( ) Advisor to Australian Learning and Teaching Council Projects on the Teaching-research nexus ( ), Undergraduate research ( ), and Teaching research ( ) Advisor to League of European Research Universities on research-based teaching (2009) Honorary Professor University of Queensland; Adjunct Professor Macquarie University; Visiting Professor Edinburgh Napier and University of Wales Newport; International Teaching Fellow University College Cork; HE Academy Associate Research interests: scholarship of teaching; linking research and teaching; active learning; developing an inclusive curriculum for disabled students Brief biography: Mick

3 Research Assistant: Rethinking Final Year Projects and Dissertations: Creative Honours and Capstone Projects Research Assistant: Community Flood Archive Enhancement through Storytelling Postgraduate Researcher at the Centre for Active Learning, University of Gloucestershire CeTL Qualified Teacher of History (key stages three, four and five) Masters by Research, Staff and student conceptions of citizenship education: a case study of the University of Gloucestershire (2010) Research interests: teaching and learning, active learning, citizenship education and society Brief biography: Laura

4 Rethinking the dissertation Our argument is that a more flexible approach is needed in the form, function and assessment of final year projects and dissertations to meet the needs of all students

5 Rethinking the dissertation Work in progress NTFS funded two year project based at University of Gloucestershire Rethinking Final Year Projects and Dissertations: Creative Honours and Capstone Projects

6 Projects, which are wider than the traditional honours dissertation, that students undertake towards the end of their undergraduate degree, usually in their final or senior year, in which they engage in a significant amount of independent research or inquiry. Capstone – term commonly used in North America and Australasia to refer to integrative final year projects Our working definition

7 In US: The Boyer Commission (1998, 27) recommended that all undergraduate programmes should Culminate with a capstone experience. The final semester should focus on a major project and utilize to the full the research and communication skills learned in the previous years. Final year projects and dissertations

8 In Australia: Holdsworth et al. (2009) reported on Developing Capstone Experiences. In Europe: The reshaping of the length of the undergraduate degree through the Bologna process has forced rethinking about whether, how and when to ensure a research emphasis. Final year projects and dissertations

9 In Britain: The final year dissertation, which has traditionally been seen as the gold standard for higher education, is coming under pressure for reform as student participation rates have increased, the numbers studying professional disciplines have grown, and staff-student ratios have deteriorated. Final year projects and dissertations

10 Our project is about rethinking the dissertation. We feel that we can learn much from the experience of running capstone courses. Our focus is on students undertaking research in their final year, but it is wider in its conception, function, form, location and how it is disseminated and assessed than the traditional dissertation. Final year projects and dissertations

11 Wider in their: conception (e.g. collaborative projects as part of a research group; consultancy projects); function (e.g. synthesising capstone projects; preparatory projects for transition into a profession); form (e.g. student group projects); location (e.g. employer and community based projects); and/or how they are disseminated and assessed (e.g. through exhibitions, undergraduate research conferences and other forms of public engagement) Contrast with traditional honours dissertation

12 Final year projects and dissertations One minute each way In pairs you each have ONE minute to tell the other of an example or an experience you are familiar with of innovative ways of engaging students in final year projects and dissertations

13 Final year projects and dissertations Alternative research-led projects in Biosciences at Durham a) Laboratory-based project b) Biology enterprise c) Biology into schools In Biosciences at Leeds they have 7 alternatives

14 is a university-community partnership that connects faculty, students and staff at MIT with community- based organizations and civic leaders in the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects

15 Final year projects and dissertations British Conference on Undergraduate Research UCLAN 2011 Warwick 2012 Plymouth 2013

16 Final year projects and dissertations Draw on wide range of literature Linking research and teaching Undergraduate research and inquiry Employment and community based projects Capstone projects and integrative learning Independent, creative and transformational learning Equity and widening participation issues Graduate attributes and standards Assessment of individual and group projects Disseminating and celebrating undergraduate work

17 Final year projects and dissertations Alternative or additional projects, some of which may be employment or community-based, are required to meet the needs of all students regardless of background, discipline or life goals.

18 Final Year projects and dissertations Research question: How can final year undergraduate projects and capstone projects be designed and assessed to help students prepare for an uncertain world?

19 Final Year projects and dissertations Case studies Arts, Design, Media and Humanities Business, Hospitality, Law, Sport and Tourism Interdisciplinary Education, Social and Environmental Sciences Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

20 Final year projects and dissertations In groups of 3-4s each of you should look at least one different mini-case study (pp 7- 41) and identify interesting practices which you then share with others in your group. Be ready to report back on ONE interesting idea from your group Time: 10 minutes

21 Additional to honours projectAlternative to honours project Campus basedEmployer / community based Undertaken at the University Distance learning Research preparationProfessional / employment preparation Student learning centredOutcome product centred Discipline basedMulti- or interdisciplinary Student initiatedTeacher / supervisor initiated IndividualGroup Original to the studentOriginal to the discipline University audienceProfessional / public audience In-depth analysis Synthesis of knowledge/skills Assessed by academicsAssessed by peers / professionals Individual supervisionGroup / peer supervisions Dimensions of final year projects and dissertations

22 Final year projects and dissertations We value highly the traditional dissertation as a potentially transformational experience, but we feel one size does not fit all. Argue need for greater choice in the form the dissertation may take, the nature of the end product, and the ways in which it is assessed. Additional or alternative experience?

23 I cannot think of anything more unfair than … to treat all students as if they are the same, when they so manifestly are not (Elton 2000: 1).

24 Learning outcomes for final year dissertations and projects Though we argue that there should be a variety in the conception, function, form, and location of final year projects and dissertations and how they are disseminated, all should deliver a similar set of learning outcomes. In small groups discuss whether you agree with the ten key characteristics of dissertations on pp 2-3 and whether there are any missing. Some additional shapes and forms for dissertations are shown on pp 3- 4.

25 Student experiences of the dissertation We asked some broadcast journalism students what they thought about traditional dissertations and whether some 're- thinking' was needed.

26 Student experiences of the dissertation Pages/UniversityofGloucestershire.aspx

27 Final year projects and dissertations An invitation to participate and send us a case study (see pp 39-40) Source: UCLAN 2010

28 Final year projects and dissertations Lets be creative and go beyond the traditional dissertation and capstone project


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