Examining project elements
This is an example of a specific examination conducted at KTH. The example consists of the following elements; project progress meetings, tutorial conversations, peer reviews, literature seminars and automatically assessed quizzes. Below are examples of how a course can be structured and completed without lectures, where the examining elements are carried out as learning activities.
The examination is developed with the student's future role as an engineer in mind. The student will be expected to control and argue for their own work, their methods, choice of technology, and be able to motivate their decisions in relation to both the research front and real products. Students need to practice working in teams, as well as their ability to take and give constructive feedback. By making each student individually responsible for the group's work in presentations, it is difficult for a student to passively follow the group's work.
The examination is used in a course with pass/fail and consists of several parts. The course includes three project assignments, first two week-long projects in two specific areas that affect everyone, then a major project of 6 weeks, where students choose a group based on theme/interest. There will be different people in all groups, which benefits the students' training of cooperation skills and gives them the opportunity to learn from each other to a greater extent. In the same way as a professional project undergoes a number of reviews and activities during the project period, each of the course projects undergo a number of compulsory and/or examining activities. Because the examining activities are also learning activities for the student, the workload becomes balanced despite the fact that they may seem like many. For the shorter projects, a shortened version of what is described below is implemented.
Project progress meetings
The students work in project groups of 3-4 students. They are examined continuously in the form of weekly "crits". During the crits, the students are divided into conversation groups so that they never end up with someone from their own group. Each student must then present the week's work and give constructive feedback to students from other groups. Notes are made in a digital document shared with the teacher. Teachers and TAs (teaching assistant) take turns with leading the project project meetings and sometimes other researchers and external representatives are also invited as guests. During the meeting, the attending teachers walk around and listen to the different groups.
During the course, two tutorial conversations of around 15 minutes are held, one at the start of the project and one closer to the end. The whole group attends the meeting with the examiner.
A draft of the project report is submitted to Canvas halfway through the course, and each student gives peer review to two other drafts. Another round of peer review is done closer to the end just before the final submission. This means that each report receives feedback from several other students in two rounds before the teacher reads them for the final assessment.
Four literature seminars
To process the course literature, the course includes three literature seminars where each student formulates questions that are sent into a discussion thread on Canvas in advance. The questions are then discussed in breakout rooms, with common notes in a shared writing document. Those who miss this occasion will have the opportunity to make up the seminar by commenting in detail on the comments of three other students in Canvas. After the breakout room session, the questions that came up in the document are reviewed together with the teacher. Two of these seminars are conducted as (optional) walking seminars.
The course includes another additional seminar where each student chooses a research article no older than 3 years related to their own project. During the seminar, the articles are presented to the others in the project group. The students write in a document shared with the teacher and the project group. The document later forms the basis for the work in a related section of the final report.
The course includes two different quizzes.
- A compulsory theory quiz where students must get every answer correct, but can take the quiz as many times as they want.
- A short final reflection in the form of a quiz where the students summarize their personal lessons learned from the course.
The teacher's work
Despite many examining activities, the workload for the teacher is normal, as the examination is used as learning elements, meaning time that would have been used for lectures alone now instead has a double effect.
In this course, the teacher needs to do the following:
- Arrange themes for the projects.
- Participate and mingle around in project progress meetings.
- Tutorial conversations.
- Organize peer review.
- Conduct literature seminars.
- Create and publish a theory quiz, correct free text questions in the final quiz.
- Assess final report.