VUF - Examples from practice

Example 9


Actors: Peer assessment and supervisor 
Type: Project work, presentation, poster

Birgitte H. Kallipolitis,
Associate professor
Department of Chemical Engineering, Biotechnology and Environmental Technology, Faculty of Science and lt


The feedback activity in brief
The students in Science receive feedback on their first year project from a peer opponent group and their supervisor as well as the students’ own supervisor. The purpose here is for the students to receive constructive critique and suggestions, as well as for the students to practice for the oral exam.

Application
In Science the students have a seven-week first year project within natural science (FF501) and pharmacy (NAT507). The department of chemical engineering, biotechnology and environmental technology normally have a class of 100 students, who are divided into groups of 3-5 students. The students pick the project topics they find interesting and the distribution of the topics takes place with a draw. The projects are either theoretical or practical, and the students can take mini courses and join activities related to the topics they find relevant.

After 4-5 weeks the students have to complete a midway seminar, where the project must be presented and assessed by an opponent group. At the end of the course the students hand in a report and produce a poster of the project. The poster is presented at a poster session with all the groups, supervisors, external examinators, and perhaps family and friends present. Subsequently, there is an oral exam based on the report and the poster.

The actual activity and its extent
At the midway seminar the students present in groups for 15 minutes what they have done up until now, what problem formulation and questions they have come up with, as well as their delimitations, methods and preliminary conclusions. Everyone in the group must speak at some point during the 15 minutes. Based on this presentation and an abstract (1/2 – 1 page), which the group uploaded three days before the presentation, the opponent group provides the group with feedback. Next, the supervisor of the opponent group provides the presenting group with feedback and finally the supervisor of the presenting group also provides the group with feedback. The latter often taking place in a private room with the group, because then there is room for going into details with the project and looking into how well they received the feedback and to figure out if there is anything specific that could be done with the feedback they received.

The students are given a document with objectives and requirements for the project. In this document they can find an introduction to the project and the midway seminar, including which requirements the opponent group must fulfil. It is mentioned that the opponent group must relate to and comment on the following areas: was the problem formulation clear? Are the results clearly presented? Are the preliminary conclusions valid? Any constructive suggestions for the presentation?

All teachers/researchers are employed in the course. They supervise groups of 3-5 students and they have to allow approximately three hours for the midway seminar. Additionally, they have one hour a week in all seven weeks where they should meet with their group for supervision.

Experiences and assessment
This is a relatively comprehensive project, but most students pass the project, and the outcome of the project is good. All teachers/researchers participate in the project, and they each supervise their own groups and handle the parallel activities. The students are often too nice when they provide each other with feedback, why the supervisor should interrupt if there is too little critique or if it is not constructive. Before the midway seminar it is beneficial to speak with the groups about the presentation and how to be a good opponent group as well as what is expected of them.

The students are generally happy with the project. However, some are not satisfied with their supervisor, enlightening the importance of setting expectations between the parties. Overall the students find the project exciting, and they are happy to get a closer contact with a researcher. They also gain insight into what a researcher does, they get the chance to try it out themselves, and they learn how to do research with others. The satisfaction with the actual feedback varies. The students are satisfied if the opponent group has something to contribute with, which however is not always the case. On the other hand, most of the students are happy to receive feedback from another supervisor.

Evaluation: in which contexts will you recommend this feedback activity?

Suitable for classes of: Class size must match the number of available supervisors
Suitable for level: All
Suitable for offline, online or both:

Offline – but upload documents online

Other possible actors: Maybe external feedback at the poster sessions
Is the activity part of an assessment method? Yes
Is the activity part of the curriculum? Yes
References: No

 

For more information about VUF please contact:
Centre for Teaching and Learning - Inger-Marie F. Christensen - imc@sdu.dk or Rie Troelsen - riet@sdu.dk

For more information about this feedback activity please contact: 
Birgitte H. Kallipolitis - bhk@bmb.sdu.dk