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Rethinking Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects and the Student Experience Mick Healey University of Gloucestershire, UK www.mickhealey.co.uk.

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Presentation on theme: "Rethinking Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects and the Student Experience Mick Healey University of Gloucestershire, UK www.mickhealey.co.uk."— Presentation transcript:

1 Rethinking Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects and the Student Experience Mick Healey University of Gloucestershire, UK “new models of curriculum … should all … incorporate research-based study for undergraduates” (Ramsden, 2008:10-11)

2 “A new masters programme has scrapped its dissertation requirement. Is this a one-off or is the end of the dissertation upon us?” Guardian Professional, 1 June 2011Guardian Professional Are predictions about the end of the dissertation any more accurate than those about the end of the world? Photograph: Alamy Is the end of the dissertation nigh?

3 Rethinking Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects The initial impetus behind the Research- Informed Teaching Initiative was to preserve the ‘gold-standard’ of honours dissertations and protect the international competitiveness of UK universities.

4 Rethinking Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects Bachelor's degrees with honours are awarded to students who have demonstrated: “a systematic understanding of key aspects of their field of study, including acquisition of coherent and detailed knowledge, at least some of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of defined aspects of a discipline” (QAA, 2008, FHEQ, 18)

5 Rethinking Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects “… academic disciplines should be free to choose what is appropriate to measure independent, advanced learning for their students … having a uniform approach to demonstration of honours-level achievement is arbitrary” (Huggins, 2005).

6 Rethinking Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects Alternative or additional projects, some of which may be employment or community-based, are required to meet the needs of all honours students regardless of background, discipline or life goals.

7 Rethinking Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects We value highly the traditional dissertation as a potentially transformational experience, but do 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?

8 “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

9 Rethinking Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects 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

10 Rethinking Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects Our focus is on students undertaking research at honours level, but it is wider in its conception, function, form, location and how it is disseminated than the traditional dissertation.

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 (e.g. through exhibitions, undergraduate research conferences and other forms of public engagement) Contrast with traditional honours dissertation

12 Rethinking Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects Alternative research-led projects in Biosciences at Durham a) Laboratory-based project b) Biology enterprise c) Biology into schools

13 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. Rethinking Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects

14 British Conference on Undergraduate Research

15 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 and capstone projects

16 Rethinking Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects Recognise that some disciplines (e.g. art & design and some professional subjects) and some institutions (e.g. Leeds Met) have long track records of diversifying what counts as an Hons Project, but this is a new area for many.

17 Rethinking Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects Research question: ‘How can final year undergraduate projects and capstone projects be designed and assessed to help students prepare for an uncertain world?’

18 Rethinking Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects Initially 5 Subject Centres: Art, Design and Media; Business, Management, Accountancy and Finance; English; Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism; Sociology, Anthropology and Politics. Now all subjects

19 Rethinking Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects Outputs and events: Lessons from literature; Resource bank of examples; Student experiences; Debate within UoG; Ten case studies; Showcase event – 22 June; Develop alternative & additional hons projects at UoG; Guide on creative solutions; Presentations, briefings & publications; Grand findings national event.

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

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

22 Rethinking Final Year Undergraduate Dissertations and Capstone Projects Let’s be creative and go beyond the traditional dissertation

23 THE END


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