Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEDULEARN18 Proceedings : 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies July 2nd-4th, 2018 — Palma, Spain
EditorsL Gómez Chova, A López Martínez, I Candel Torres
Number of pages10
Place of PublicationSpain
PublisherIATED Academy
Publication dateJul 2018
Pages1505-1514
ISBN (Electronic)978-84-09-02709-5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018
MoE publication typeB3 Article in conference proceedings
Event10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies - Palau de Congressos de Palma, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Duration: 2 Jul 20184 Jul 2018
Conference number: 10
https://iated.org/edulearn/announcement

Publication series

NameEDULEARN Proceedings
PublisherIATED
Number18
ISSN (Electronic)2340-1117

Fields of Science

  • 4111 Agronomy
  • 516 Educational sciences
  • project course
  • Development
  • Research

Cite this

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 (pp. 1505-1514). (EDULEARN Proceedings; No. 18). Spain: IATED Academy. https://doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2018.0466
Kymäläinen, Hanna-Riitta ; Kokkonen, Tuomo ; Muukkonen, Hanni ; Mäkelä, Pirjo ; Seppänen, Mervi ; Lakkala, Minna. / Research-based evaluation of customer project courses in agricultural sciences. EDULEARN18 Proceedings: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies July 2nd-4th, 2018 — Palma, Spain. editor / L Gómez Chova ; A López Martínez ; I Candel Torres. Spain : IATED Academy, 2018. pp. 1505-1514 (EDULEARN Proceedings; 18).
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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. https://doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2018.0466

Research-based evaluation of customer project courses in agricultural sciences. / Kymäläinen, Hanna-Riitta; Kokkonen, Tuomo; Muukkonen, Hanni; Mäkelä, Pirjo; Seppänen, Mervi; Lakkala, Minna.

EDULEARN18 Proceedings: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies July 2nd-4th, 2018 — Palma, Spain. ed. / L Gómez Chova; A López Martínez; I Candel Torres. Spain : IATED Academy, 2018. p. 1505-1514 (EDULEARN Proceedings; No. 18).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientific

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N2 - Work life relevance is emphasized these days in higher education. In addition to domain-specificknowledge 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. andM.Sc. students in 2016 and 2017. The course in 2016 had eight students and three supervisors in twoproject teams; the course in 2017 had 15 students in four teams, and six supervisors (universityteachers). Each team had its own external client from businesses and national governmentdepartments.The course implementation was examined from a design-based research approach. The aim of thestudy 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 outinstruments and methods that can be used in educational practice to assess participant satisfactionand competence development during courses about work life. An online questionnaire was used toexamine the evaluations of the supervisors and students about the success of the course and thecompetencies gained by the students (Collaborative Knowledge Practices Questionnaire, CKP).Interviews were used to examine the views of the clients concerning the realization and developmentof the course. The data were analysed using quantitative and qualitative methods.The project process was mostly graded the same by the evaluators (students, supervisors andclients), 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 thedevelopment of shared objects, the integration of individual and collaborative working and persistentdevelopment of knowledge objects. The students particularly appreciated team work for achievingcommon goals, development of project work and work life skills, interesting project topics andinteraction with the customers. Challenges were the open assignments and related uncertainty ofworking methods, coordination of group work and students’ inadequate skills in relation to project workrequirements. The tight schedule of 11 weeks in 2016 led to the course being extended to 16 weeks in2017.All clients evaluated their participation in the course as being positive. They appreciated being able tohelp students to practice work life skills and the university to develop teaching. Collaboration was seenas a good way to create contacts with students from the viewpoint of future workplaces. Project workoutcomes provided new information for the development of the client organizations or supplementedand strengthened earlier views. As targets for improvement, the clients mentioned better definition ofappropriate assignments for student teams and the development of interaction practices, e.g. byorganizing virtual meetings.For the supervisors, the motivated working of the students and finishing of the projects in time werepositive 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 astheir 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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Kymäläinen H-R, Kokkonen T, Muukkonen H, Mäkelä P, Seppänen M, Lakkala M. Research-based evaluation of customer project courses in agricultural sciences. In Gómez Chova L, López Martínez A, Candel Torres I, editors, EDULEARN18 Proceedings: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies July 2nd-4th, 2018 — Palma, Spain. Spain: IATED Academy. 2018. p. 1505-1514. (EDULEARN Proceedings; 18). https://doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2018.0466