University of Oulu

Kymäläinen, H-R, Kokkonen, T, Muukkonen, H, Mäkelä, P, Seppänen,M & Lakkala, M (2018), Research-based evaluation of customer project courses in agricultural sciences. In L Gómez Chova, A López Martínez & I Candel Torres (eds), EDULEARN18 Proceedings : 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies July 2nd-4th, 2018, Palma, Spain. EDULEARN Proceedings, no. 18, IATED Academy, Spain, pp. 1505-1514, 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, 02/07/2018.

Research-based evaluation of customer project courses in agricultural sciences

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Author: Kymäläinen, Hanna1; Kokkonen, Tuomo1; Muukkonen, Hanni2;
Organizations: 1University of Helsinki, Department of Agricultural Sciences (FINLAND)
2University of Oulu, Faculty of Education (FINLAND)
3University of Helsinki, Faculty of Educational Sciences (FINLAND)
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: International Association of Technology, Education and Development, 2018
Publish Date: 2019-02-12


Work life relevance is emphasized these days in higher education. In addition to domain-specific knowledge and skills, students should learn general work life competencies, such as team work, networking, project work and digital skills. At the University of Helsinki, agricultural science students’ work life skills are promoted in a project course. The 5 ETCS course has been held for B.Sc. and M.Sc. students in 2016 and 2017. The course in 2016 had eight students and three supervisors in two project teams; the course in 2017 had 15 students in four teams, and six supervisors (university teachers). Each team had its own external client from businesses and national government departments.

The course implementation was examined from a design-based research approach. The aim of the study was to evaluate the summative evaluations made by all groups participating in the course, receive research-based knowledge about improving the course design further, and to try out instruments and methods that can be used in educational practice to assess participant satisfaction and competence development during courses about work life. An online questionnaire was used to examine the evaluations of the supervisors and students about the success of the course and the competencies gained by the students (Collaborative Knowledge Practices Questionnaire, CKP). Interviews were used to examine the views of the clients concerning the realization and development of the course. The data were analysed using quantitative and qualitative methods.

The project process was mostly graded the same by the evaluators (students, supervisors and clients), but most student groups gave the report a higher grade than the other evaluators did.

Students’ evaluations were that they had acquired knowledge work competencies well, particularly the development of shared objects, the integration of individual and collaborative working and persistent development of knowledge objects. The students particularly appreciated team work for achieving common goals, development of project work and work life skills, interesting project topics and interaction with the customers. Challenges were the open assignments and related uncertainty of working methods, coordination of group work and students’ inadequate skills in relation to project work requirements. The tight schedule of 11 weeks in 2016 led to the course being extended to 16 weeks in 2017.

All clients evaluated their participation in the course as being positive. They appreciated being able to help students to practice work life skills and the university to develop teaching. Collaboration was seen as a good way to create contacts with students from the viewpoint of future workplaces. Project work outcomes provided new information for the development of the client organizations or supplemented and strengthened earlier views. As targets for improvement, the clients mentioned better definition of appropriate assignments for student teams and the development of interaction practices, e.g. by organizing virtual meetings.

For the supervisors, the motivated working of the students and finishing of the projects in time were positive aspects. It was challenging to define appropriate topics for the client assignments, requirements of the course in relation to the skills of the students and timing of the course as well as their own time management.

All parties experienced work life-oriented project courses as necessary and rewarding for all parties. Research-based evaluation provided useful information for developing the course design further.

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Series: EDULEARN proceedings
ISSN: 2340-1125
ISSN-E: 2340-1117
ISSN-L: 2340-1125
ISBN: 978-84-09-02709-5
Pages: 1505 - 1514
DOI: 10.21125/edulearn.2018.0466
Host publication: EDULEARN18 Proceedings : 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies July 2nd-4th, 2018, Palma, Spain
Host publication editor: Gómez Chova, L.
López Martínez, A.
Candel Torres, I.
Type of Publication: B3 Article in conference proceedings
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
Funding: Research was partly supported by the Academy of Finland [Grant 285806]. Participation in the EDULEARN18 conference was funded by the “Opetuksen toteutuksen Digiloikka” [Implementing Digileap in Teaching] project by the University of Helsinki.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 285806
Detailed Information: 285806 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.