Students are encouraged to develop their own ideas for their dissertation. Many use work-based experiences and/or career aspirations to form the basis for their dissertation. Students submit a dissertation proposal using a structured application form to frame their ideas and methodology. They then receive written feedback from three dissertation tutors. This process is intended to ensure that the student’s ideas have the potential to meet the requirements for the dissertation, within the time permitted and the resources available to the student. Once students have a satisfactory proposal for their dissertation, they are put in touch with a supervisor to support the remainder of their work. Most supervisors are based within the University of Manchester. Senior academics are self-selected for this role, to match them with the student’s dissertation topic and the selected dissertation model. All supervisors are invited to training sessions and/or are sent written guidance. They also have access to the same learning and support materials as the student. Supervisors can seek additional support at an individual level from the course dissertation lead (RAH). As a guide, supervisors are expected to provide around 16-20 hours of supervisory support in total, over the academic year. This includes responding to student queries, giving feedback on their written work, and providing general guidance, information, and support. In the initial stage, supervisors are encouraged to provide an introductory email to their student, and to agree mutually acceptable methods for communication (e.g., email, telephone, Skype, Google+). Similarly, in the initial stages, students are encouraged to introduce themselves to their supervisor and to identify any immediate or potential future learning needs. The whole process is monitored by the course dissertation lead (RAH), who can also respond to individual queries and further support needs from students and their supervisor.
There was some variation in the levels of satisfaction with the course overall by the type of dissertation model students had chosen to do (Table 3). Most students expressed at least a positive experience. However, these findings are difficult to interpret because of the small number of students within each category and percentages have not been presented.
Check list & research dissertation model chapter 4 ..
The majority of questions used a four-point Likert scale. The analysis calculated frequencies and percentages for questions using the Likert scale. Fishers exact test was used to test for associations between levels of satisfaction and registration status, type of dissertation model, and level of contact with supervisor. Open ended/free text questions were used to obtain information on a number of themes. These were analysed using the constant comparative method (Maykut & Morehouse, 1994). Students were asked to estimate the amount of time they spent working on their dissertation overall, in numbers of hours which were then rounded up or down to the nearest whole number. This variable was not normally distributed and the Kruskal Wallis test was used to test for an association between overall satisfaction and the median time spent working on the dissertation. The study was conducted as part of a service evaluation. Ethical approval and participant signed consent was not required. Students could opt out by not completing the survey without giving any reason.