WORK IN PROGRESS – EVALUATION OUTCOMES FOR COMPETENCE BASED ASSESSMENT OF FINAL YEAR PROJECTS FOR TELECOMMUNICATION STUDENTS
In the environment of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), the authors designed a new assessment and supervision process for the Final Year Projects (FYP) that students of Communications Engineering (within the Electrical and Engineering area) have to perform at the end of their degrees. The proposal also includes a new evaluation method, based on rubrics that comprise of specific competences and skills. In this paper, a comparison of the grading outcomes of the proposed and the traditional method is reported. Therefore, a group of 10 students performed their project under the new conditions and were evaluated according to both methods. The goal of the investigation was to find out if the proposed project assessment method assures a broad evaluation with a large range of criteria incorporating technical and non-technical skills (a factor which is still unfamiliar to many engineering students, but of high importance for their working careers), leading to an equitable grading without derogation compared to the traditional grading.
The aim of the investigation (worked out in the framework of an Educational Innovation Project (EIP) financed by the Technical University of Madrid was to establish a similar evaluation method for FYP as for conventional subjects, as a logical consequence to the Bologna-Process: in most subjects, the final grade is no longer obtained by a single exam, but based on a number of activities which have to be successfully completed during one term, and those activities not only evaluate exclusively the knowledge of the students, but also their non-technical competences and skills.
The main findings of the analysis are a general accordance of the globally achieved grade for the projects, with the advantage to get an itemized grading of each competence and skill wherefore specific results are presented. This is of special interest for the students who get a more precise feedback to their work. The proposed practices of guided student supervision also have the advantage of helping students to perform the work in their projects as it prevents them from getting lost in standoff situations (the supervisor is constantly informed by them about their work). Also, as the rubric clarifies the detailed objectives, it facilitates the establishment of working lines on the one hand and their evaluation on the other hand, which in turn help the assessing professors who are not very familiar with the working area. The outcomes of the analysis are also of high importance for the university community because the conditions of the final projects changed with the implementation of the EHEA (less time for students which leads to different topics generally proposed by the lecturers) and the proposed supervision and assessment guidelines will support and merge of student and supervisors work.
The next and third phase of the EIP will be the evaluation of larger group of FYP students to get more precise data and suggestions for improvements both from students as well as from professors.