1. Background and Rationale:
Dissertations are a requirement for all honours undergraduate students to submit at the end of the academic year to graduate. It is stated from a student's perception, the dissertation is the most important and individually worked upon piece of work they will complete at University (Webster, F et al,. 2010). The process before student's hand in their dissertation involves all students submitting a Dissertation Registration Form. This form includes the students chosen Dissertation topic. When choosing a topic, the student must consider their scholarly interests (Useem, B.1997), and a plan of how they will compose their dissertation around this topic. The student's supervisor must sign the form before it is handed into the school office. The first and second progress report forms follow on from the Dissertation Registration Form and are handed in at different stages of the academic term. The forms include what milestone the student is currently at with their Dissertation and these must also be signed by their supervisor before they can hand it into the office. After the forms have been submitted to the office they are date stamped, recorded on an Excel spread sheet, filed and stored accordingly within the office.
I have experienced issues with the efficiency of the Dissertation Management System that require further discussion. Students are able to hand in each form without it being reviewed or signed by their supervisor and with this in mind, students are also able to hand in their final Dissertation without submitting any of the forms, this makes me think what the purpose of the forms being filled in and completed if it is not mandatory to submit them? Further issues with the process are the time consumption impacting staff and students. Filing and maintaining individual paper files takes up a considerable amount of time as well as supervisors signing each form. (Tiemstra, John P. 2002) refers to the idea of time consumption, where people's time is ill-used, a point I will examine later in my studies. Students may be unable to find their supervisor due to them being on leave or on a different campus which takes time away from the student when they can be focusing on their final dissertation. Staff members are also impacted as they have to sign individual forms for a group of their students at once.
Furthermore it is possible the current Dissertation Processing system has both a financial and an environmental impact for the department. (Potential ref – environmental impact paper has?) . As all forms are two sheets of A4 paper, the total cost of two sheets of paper is 10 pence, if this is multiplied by the amount of students submitting their Dissertation for 2018/19, (excluding Marketing Events and Tourism as their forms are now submitted through Moodle), the overall cost is £86.70. As well as having an impact on the department's finances, the forms also have an environmental impact. (Research UWS environmental info / policy - ref)
2. Project Aims and Objectives
The aim of the project is to alter the Dissertation Management System resulting in more of a structured and organised process. In order to achieve this, the forms can be submitted through Google. This means that students will submit their form through Google Forms where their supervisor can review, approve and add any feedback electronically. Once the form has been submitted, an academic or administrative member of staff involved can easily access the form on Google. The tracking of the Dissertations will also be changed from the previous Excel spread sheet to a Google Spread Sheet Tracker. This will include inputting the dates of submission (shown on Google Forms) by an administrator and any member of staff can access the spread sheet and modify it whilst multiple people are editing it at the same time. This means that student engagement will be accurately recorded and forms can be followed up promptly. Ultimately, the new process will be less time consuming for students, academic members of staff and administrators within the school.
3. Those interested or impacted
The main parties who will be involved and impacted with the change of process will be dissertation module co-ordinators, students, supervisors and administrative members of staff within the main office. As this change will mean that forms will become electronic, new process will need to be reviewed and agreed by the relevant members of staff in charge of each Dissertation module. Tests and examples of how the new system operates will be presented, and a detailed ‘how to' guide for all admin staff who are involved in the office will receive a copy. The new Dissertation Management System will benefit staff and students within the business school as electronic forms can be easily filed and located on a shared drive. Staff will be able to see students who have been engaging and who have not been engaging by accessing the Google Forms.
Add what this will mean for learning and development needs.
Planned Activities Timeline Outcome Evidence
Speaking to members of staff within the school who are involved with Dissertation Registration Forms and Progress Report Forms January 2019 - Establishing what their feelings are about the process and taking this on board when I am changing the process
Discussing the process with students. This can be achieved by undertaking interviews or asking students to complete a survey This will allow me to review a range of results from a student's perspective.
Contacting other Schools within the University to find out how they process their Dissertations forms.
I can take ideas from different schools and implement them into the new system.
Research similar processes in other Universities “ “
Testing alternative electronic systems (Google Forms) Demonstrating that the new electronic system is effective and more beneficial.
Research environmental and financial impacts of the forms Gathering data which will help determine how the new system will cut costs and how it can help the University become more eco-friendly.
4. Learning Objectives and Goals
Whilst I am undertaking activities stated in my activity plan above, I will develop different skills and qualities, one of those being research skills. I will become more familiar with researching additional information for my project resulting in a good quality standard of evidence. The project will also develop my problem solving skills, by identifying the negatives associated with the Dissertation Management System, this has allowed me to discover different ways current problems can be altered and improved. By taking on this project, I have the opportunity to change a process and present a new system to senior management that I can take ownership of. In the future, this can be beneficial for me as I develop in my career as I can start analysing larger problems with central University processes and procedures.
Appendix A – Personal Development Plan
What do I want/need to learn? What will I do to achieve this? What resources or support will I need? What will my success criteria be? Target dates for review and completion
I will need feedback and opinions of the current Dissertation Management System Process to learn what can be changed / improved. Distribute a survey to honours students. I will need the support of my link tutor to help distribute the survey out to students. Collating feedback and using this information to help shape the improved process.
Testing alternative electronic systems such as Google Forms to find out if this will be the system used in the improved process. Submitting draft forms to Google Forms in order to view how the new process runs. I will need access to the Google Forms software on a Chrome book and an additional PC to view the layout of the form once It has been submitted The new electronic way of submitting forms will be simple to use for the students and academic members of staff will be able to access the forms at any time through the software.
Finding out how other schools within the University process their Dissertation Forms. Contacting other schools in person or through telephone conversation. Other schools may have a different and more beneficial way of processing their forms that I can implement into the Dissertation Management System.
Researching the financial and environmental impact dissertation forms will have on the department. I will calculate the amount of money the department will save by making the Dissertation Management System electronic. I will also research how this will contribute towards the environment. I will need access to student numbers on each dissertation module in order to calculate financial savings and environmental impact. Providing accurate information in order to support my proposed change of process.
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