HOW TO IMPROVE THE RESEARCH WORKS PREPARED BY THE STUDENTS? DIFFERENT METHODOLOGIES, FOR DIFFERENT EDUCATIONAL LEVELS
From our point of view, it is essential that the university students learn to search information on their own, analyze the information obtained from a critical point of view, and also to extract the points necessary to prepare a document with the main conclusions and also to defend the work they have made. This training is essential for the students that will have to “sell” their work in their professional future (undergraduate students), such as engineering students, as well as for students that are being prepared for a research career (postgraduate students).This is the reason why in the subjects we teach, we ask the students to do bibliographic search on topical subjects, that should be linked to their future work orientation.
In a natural way, the teachers think that the students are mature enough to face up this kind of works on their own, without any help or orientation. The reality shows that this premise is not true in most of the cases, especially when the students are still undergraduate. For postgraduate students the assumption of this premise is accurate for most of the students.
For undergraduate students we have asked them to prepare individual works or teams. Both configurations have some advantages and drawbacks. The teamwork is a more enriching experience, if it is made in a cooperative way. However, it is a real fact that in most occasions the cooperation does not exist. The evaluation of this kind of works presents difficulties, because some students could have worked harder than others, and they will get the same qualification. The individual work allows the correct evaluation of the students, but it is much more difficult for them to prepare the work without the support of their classmates.
In both cases, we have left the students to prepare the work on their own, or with guidance, using mandatory tutorship, in order to help and guide the students. The best results have been obtained using individual works with supervision using the tutorship. This could be due to a personal implication of the student and teacher in the work, with no possibility of leaving tasks for the other members of the team. But this methodology requires a small number of students in the subject.
The postgraduate students always prepared individual works, based on scientific articles. The methodologies tested have been the free preparation of the work, with no help or supervision by the teacher, or a system of supervision similar to the methodology used with undergraduate students. Both methodologies gave very satisfactory results. The use of supervision gave more homogeneous qualifications. When the students prepared on their own the works, all of them were good enough, but the students that really had interest and worked hard obtained excellent qualifications while the others got lower qualifications. It seems more accurate for postgraduate students to let them prepare the works on themselves, in order to promote the interest and the work of the student.
For this level it is also required a low number of student in the class.