E. Sendra, G. Romero, J.R. Díaz

Universidad Miguel Hernández (SPAIN)
The Official Masters Degree in Bio-agriculture, Rural Development and Agro-tourism of the Universidad Miguel Hernández is a one year program comprising 60 ECTS, distributed in two semesters. 6 ECTS are assigned to the final Master thesis. In order to present the Master Thesis for evaluation, the students need to have passed 75% of the ECTS and get tutor’s approval of the document. Once approved, the Master Thesis is evaluated by a 3 members committee, selected based on their expertise on the field by the coordinators of the program. Traditionally, the members of the committee evaluated the thesis based on their expertise and previous experience on the evaluation process. In the European Space of Higher Education, within the frame of the ECTS, students evaluation is defined under a new approach based on competence acquisition. Competence evaluation should be an objective and transparent process. Students need to have access to what competences are to be evaluated and how, by means of which tasks, and a detailed description of the grading scales.
This presentation deals with a pilot experience for establishing competence evaluation in a Master Thesis and it is supported by an education innovation project. Competences assigned to the Master Thesis are defined in the description of the program. The design of a rubric for the evaluation of the competences related to the Master Thesis yields a reference document which is not user friendly enough for a daily use, so the need of translating the contents of the rubric into specific questionnaires was planned to be developed as instruments for evaluation.
The first stage for the development of the questionnaires was a survey among all master’s teachers who were asked about a) what could be objectively evaluated by the committee during the reading of the manuscript and oral defense of the thesis, b) the grading scale for the evaluation. The second stage was the agreement on the selection of 10 questions with 3 a points scale for grading. Such questionnaire was to be answered by the members of the committee after the reading and defense of the thesis. After few months of using the questionnaire several teachers suggested a 5 points scale for grading, and questionnaires were accordingly changed. After 1 year experience on the use of the questionnaires their suitability was evaluated.
The questions selected were linked to the competences to be evaluated, and they did not cover all competences. Tutors should be involved in the evaluation of competences and their assessments should account for a higher part of the final grade than the provided by evaluation committees. A second questionnaire for the tutors is now being prepared in order to complete the evaluation of all competences related to the Master Thesis. With the proposed model 74 % of the tasks, regarding 75% of the competences are to be evaluated by the tutor and 26 % of the tasks, regarding 35 % competences by the committee. Some competences comprise tasks evaluated by tutors and other evaluated by the committee. This evaluation proposal is a substantial change from traditional evaluation in which 100% of the grade was given by the committee and no objective framework was provided to the students.