SCI Education Management Team 5/23

Thesis Management Process

In the 5th SCI Education Management Team meeting of the year the new (master’s) thesis management process was discussed. The idea is to move the whole thesis process into the MyStudies platform, i.e., from the first thought of writing the thesis until the end of the evaluation process. In practice, we will see more changes in the beginning of the process, whereas the end of it, evaluation etc., will go more or less as nowadays. There already exists a Dean’s decision regarding the new process: Master’s Programme Committees will no longer approve the supervisors or the topics of the theses.

One of the thoughts behind the new process is that the workload of the supervisors would be more evenly distributed. That is, in the planned new process, professors will have access to students that are planning a thesis within a certain theme. From the students’ point of view, this requires a “work in progress” (“aihio” in Finnish) to be created into the system. Then the student suggests 0-1 supervisors for their topic. The suggested supervisor either accepts or rejects the suggestion. In case of an approval, the suggestion extends its way to the programme director (PD), who again either approves or rejects it. If the PD approves the supervisor, then the approval process will be done once more for the topic of the thesis. Ideally, in case of a rejection, the student will be informed via MyStudies with some further instructions / information.

The introduced process gained a lot of improvement ideas from the professors. Particularly they hoped that lessons learned using Salesforce would be taken into account, e.g., how to make contacting students easy. They also raised concern how it will be ensured that an internal process like this will work with advisers from external parties, such as companies. From students’ point of view it was pointed out that the students might get “stuck” with the system, if the supervisor does not approve or reject the suggestion of the student, and just ignores it. Thereby, it was proposed that students would have a chance to leave another suggestion, given that the supervisor suggested earlier does not seem to respond at all.

There are still some problems taking the new system into production, but it will possibly be available at some point of the spring.

SCI Study Questionnaire, Fall 2023

Next we went through the results of the SCI Study Questionnaire Fall 2023. The points regarding communication were perceived by the professors: they agreed that some sort of unification between different courses could be useful, but also pointed out some practical challenges. For example, all assignments might not be ready once the course starts, so in such cases it is hard to list those with their deadlines to one common place.

With respect to course feedback and giving counter feedback we had a relatively good discussion. An example of a counter feedback from HY was shown, and even though we all recognized that the counter feedback has not always to be that extensive, the importance of reacting to the student feedback at least on some level was well illustrated by this example. The new MyCourses course feedback feature should include a built-in counter feedback feature, so we will see how this will affect the frequency of counter feedback in the future.

Aalto Language Guidelines

As a last larger item we discussed the Aalto Language Guidelines. By the time of our meeting the guidelines had not been 100% certain, as some last minute changes had occurred in the latest meeting of Aalto Academic Committee. Now the verified guidelines can for example be seen here.

In the big picture, the guidelines are more or less the same as introduced already in the summer. The spirit of the guidelines is that (i) bachelor’s studies are almost completely in Finnish and (ii) master’s studies contain a path to study mostly (>50%) in Finnish within the education sectors defined by the law. These sectors include among others industrial engineering and management, ICT, mathematics, and natural sciences. However, it requires some further investigation to find out which programme belongs to which education sector.

In the 2024-2026 curriculum, a greater focus is on the bachelor level changes. Accordingly, in the curriculum after that, changes required for the master’s studies will be considered in more depth. Most likely the part related to master’s studies will be the more challenging one. Also new professors and lecturers must probably be recruited, although the aim is not to duplicate any courses. All in all, there are some uncertainties how these new guidelines will turn out in practice.

That’s a wrap until the next meeting of this committee, which will be held on the 6th of February. Thanks for reading the summary!

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