Use of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) and peer coaching within the graduation project

With the recent rise in the number of students at TU/e comes the subsequent extra demand on teaching staff time and other resources. Similar to many other groups and departments at TU/e, the Innovation, Technology Entrepreneurship and Marketing (ITEM) group has been directly experiencing this increase in students over the past few years, most notably in the amount of BSc and MSc graduation projects to be supervised. The Department of the Built Environment has experienced a rise in student numbers from 2012 when the huge influx of students from previous years reached the graduation phase, combined with a huge HBO-influx. This effect was further reinforced because new students caught-up by a much faster study progress. Because the staff capacity (for supervision of the graduation project) remains largely unchanged, the quality of graduation project Supervision is at risk.

At the same time, many graduation projects could be finished more quickly if more attention is paid to soft skills. Topics like project management, motivation, dealing with stakeholders in the project, narrowing down the topic of the project are of many students' concern. The current situation shows that all project related issues should be discussed with the teacher, while the teacher suffers from lack of time and - therefore - mostly focuses on the technical content.

Another feature in this graduation phase is the feeling of isolation and loneliness of some students. Out of insecurity, high expectations and fear of performing, people can withdraw themselves, feel dissatisfied and start to underperform. Once people feel competent and autonomous in learning and have a feeling of relationships within a community, motivation will be higher and performance will probably increase (Self Determination-theory).

Hence, in dealing with increasing demand on thesis/graduation project supervision capacity, we would like to further develop the use of thesis circles/graduation studios. We intend to rely on CSCL as it makes it easier for students to stay in touch with their group. However, it is yet unclear which configuration of the CSCL environment would yield the best results. Our study should provide an answer to what the optimal CSCL design parameters for TU/e thesis circles and graduation Studios are and whether it yields better results than the traditional (offline-only) approach. It is also unclear if students are equipped to use the CSCL environment effectively: are they willing to use the electronic learning environment for Collaborative learning and to share the issues they are dealing with using the CSCL environment? Another important item in this study is to provide opinions on useful CSCL-tools in a CANVAS environment.

The study will be Conducted along the following research questions.

  • RQ1: What are the configuration parameters for CSCLP
  • RQ2: What is the most optimal CSCL configuration for application into thesis circles or graduation studios, and can the configuration be generalized to other studies and departments?
  • RQ3: Can the implemented CSCL configuration be a useful addition to the CANVAS platform?
  • RQ4: What is the effectiveness of the implemented CSCL configuration?
  • RQ5: Can the effectiveness of the thesis circles using the implemented CSCL configuration be increased by the use of peer Coaching?

The final outcome will be a dedicated design of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning with insight in the effects of peer coaching for use in graduation projects.

  • Increase efficiency of utilization of supervision capacity by decreasing the number of drop outs and decreasing the time needed for completion of the final thesis/graduation project.
  • Increase quality of thesis projects and improve thesis process management development.
  • Increase the level of satisfaction the students experience during their graduation project.
  • Encourage students to go beyond traditional learning boundaries and make the graduation project a positive experience.
  • Increase the self-steering capacity of students on their own work and increase Coaching ofother students. This supports the development of a more professional attitude.
  • Provide a digital format that allows for access to feedback at all time and all places.
  • Provide a framework for wider application and implementation of the CSCL-design.
  • Provide an advice in respect to integration or cooperation with CANVAS.
  • Provide a questionnaire about topics such as student satisfaction with the graduationproject for wider application.

Additional objective for the generation 2016-2017:

The departments strongly support skills development in the graduation phase. At the start of the master program, students take part in an online assessment from Skillslab. This results in a personal development plan (PDP). By implementing peer coaching, the department create an official platform to students to focus on skills development.

Project ongoing