Background to evaluation and assessment

“The following concerning evaluation and assessment was recorded in the 2005 – 2006 Kajaani University of Applied Sciences curriculum: Assessment is based on the objectives of the thesis as set by the UAS and its different schools and general assessment principles. An approved thesis is awarded a grade from 1 – 5. Assessment comprises to varying degrees depending on the field in question, evaluation of your written report, the work itself, your oral presentation, acting as opponent to someone else’s work, participation in seminars, the maturity test and the learning and supervision process. The know-how and development that you have demonstrated while completing your thesis is also assessed.”

The most important task of assessment is to promote learning and it focuses on the whole process. It should:

  • develop professional expertise
  • be context-based (learning environment) 
  • support continual personal development and career development 
  • be reflective 
  • be communal 
  • be based on previous knowledge and content structure

The central issues of thesis assessment and evaluation are the learning process, the relationship between supervision and learning, reporting, supervision and feedback discussions, self-assessment, communication skills, work place orientation, career development and development of a particular professional field. Assessment is based on the objectives of the thesis. Theses and the processes and procedures linked them differ depending on the approach, subject and methods involved.

Thesis evaluation and assessment comprises many stages. Successful assessment requires the acquisition of knowledge from all those involved in the process. Students provide interim samples of their learning throughout the thesis process during seminars, individual and group supervision sessions. Each school together with the supervisors decides how many supervision and seminar sessions are necessary and what the procedure for the sessions will be. The sessions include discussion on whether objectives have been achieved and some supervision to guide students on their journey to a professional career in their chosen field. Assessment during these sessions and final assessment should be constructive – to aid development. This type of assessment promotes learning and innovation and helps students to find appropriate solutions. During assessment the focus of interest is the student’s professional skill level and each assessment session should emphasise individuality, self-evaluation, a consideration of how learning has progressed, transparency and a willingness to be supervised. Students’ self-evaluation skills are paramount during the whole assessment process. The most important features of expertise are self-evaluation and a critical, inquiring attitude to one’s own work.

Two UAS teachers/supervisors assess student theses and each one provides a statement of assessment. Self-assessment and a possible learning diary are also part of process assessment. Students assess their own learning and thesis and provide feedback in order to develop their thesis process. The commissioning party’s representative and a peer partner are also asked to provide their evaluation of the thesis. Students who participate in the supervision and feedback sessions assess their thesis orally. This assessment is considered when grading the thesis. The supervisor is responsible for providing the grade (compiling a grade) and the thesis is assessed on a scale of Fail/grade 1 – 5. If the thesis has been completed as a group assignment, it is possible to justify awarding members of the same working group different grades. The grade with explanation is filed. Each school differs in its assessment procedure and it is the responsibility of the co-ordinating teacher in each school to inform those involved of how assessment is carried out and on what criteria it is based. Confirmation of the proposed grade is also organised differently in each school.

Students are entitled to apply for an adjustment to their thesis grade (Polytechnic Studies Law 351/2003 section 27) and they have the right to know how the principles of assessment have been applied to their work. In this case it is necessary to follow polytechnic student assessment guidelines. (Assessment)

The goal of assessment is to ensure that

Kajaani University of Applied Sciences Graduates are professionally skilled employees who have internalised the ethics and values that are pertinent to expertise in their chosen professional field. They are willing to take responsibility for the continual development of their community and professional field. They will enjoy a varied career and develop as working life experts.

The thesis assessment process

In the School of Health and Sports the UAS teacher supervisor and teacher co-ordinator, the thesis author(s), the peer partner and an appointed supervisor/contact person from work will participate in assessing the thesis.

The teacher co-ordinator, supervisor, peer partner and the students themselves assess the thesis in writing (grades 1 – 5). The co-ordinator reads all the theses from his/her own small group and if necessary the co-ordinators carry out peer assessment by reading the same theses to ensure the same level of assessment for everyone. The co-ordinator and supervisor then discuss the grade for the thesis. Prior to this, the supervisor contacts the commissioning party and makes sure that the commissioning party, peer partner and the author of the thesis have provided their assessment. Together the supervisor and co-ordinator decide which grade will be awarded. When grade 1 is proposed or grade 5, a third reader is asked to assess the thesis in question. The grade comprises the whole thesis process and the requirements of the UAS (regional development, training and work). The supervisor compiles an evaluation of the thesis recorded on a form and discusses the grade as a whole and the significance of the thesis with the student and commissioning party. If the student is not satisfied with the awarded grade he/she may apply for the grade to be adjusted. (Assessment)

The co-ordinator then gathers all the grades from his/her group and proposes them in a school-specific meeting after which the study secretary records the grade in ASIO. The grade of the thesis and its name in Finnish and English will appear on the degree certificate.

The co-ordinating teacher ensures that the assessments are filed.

  • Feedback concerning the thesis from the work place is usually very positive. This shows that the objectives of thesis in terms of practical added value and usefulness have been achieved. Assessment cannot solely be based on work place evaluation although the feedback from this sector is very important. When assessing a thesis it is also necessary to pay attention to the work process, the management of the research and development set-up, objectives and how they are/were achieved, the quality of the end result and learning. Students also have a right to receive feedback concerning their thesis and learning. For this reason it is recommended that the thesis teacher supervisor, work place supervisor and the student discuss evaluation during the process and particularly towards its end. It is necessary to provide other forms of feedback concerning the thesis to help students in their professional development. A simple grade at the end of the process is not sufficient.
  • National assessment recommendations will be in use by autumn 2006. Current assessment procedure will be modified according to the latest recommendations.