The SciPro System used at DSV

SciPro is a thesis support system that is used at The Department of Computer and Systems Sciences at Stockholm University (DSV). It handles administrative aspects of the thesis process automatically. Besides this, the symastem helps matching students with supervisors based on their research interests stated in research proposals written by students. Supervisors pick a research idea suggested by students, or vice versa, and a dashboard for the thesis project is created in SciPro. Through the dashboard they can communicate, share resources and carry out activities that are formally required by the thesis course. This environment ensures a smooth research process for both students and supervisors. It allows to access supervisor and student information, querying from thesis and supervisor support facilities, referring to and sharing learning content such as videos, images, and other materials, booking seminars, using peer and supervisor discussion forums, managing the milestones in the thesis process, etc.

 

Background of the system

DSV manages hundreds of students on average per academic semester. About two thirds of these are earning their Bachelor’s degree and the rest — their Master’s degree. These students interact with approximately fifty supervisors, all of whom work with different research topics. A number of initiatives were taken to increase the quality and the completion rate of theses. These involve organizational changes as well as implementing an ICT support system built specifically for this purpose. This system (ScPro) addresses the following issues:

  • Students struggle to find a supervisor, which results in delays in getting started with the thesis project.
  • Supervisors spend most of their supervision time working with administration issues, which leaves few opportunities for providing feedback that is more detailed and for mentoring students in the actual research work.
  • It is difficult to control the quality of theses because of the complex nature of the collaboration between supervisors, reviewers, peers and thesis opponents.
  • For students, communication with supervisors isn’t straightforward. Supervision time isn’t planned in advance, and students need to contact their supervisors in person to check their availability and arrange a meeting.
  • The supervision process isn’t transparent, and therefore, in case any issues arise, students might become isolated and not sure of what they should do next.
  • Planning for a thesis defence is difficult because this activity involves many administrative aspects such as reserving a venue, registering participants and opponents, submitting the thesis and controlling it for plagiarism, as well as keeping record of peer and opponent participation.
  • It is difficult to keep track of the resources used or discussed during the thesis period, as well as to manage and provide feedback for thesis drafts at different stages of the process.
  • It is challenging to find relevant information to support thesis projects, including general or specialised literature, thesis templates, etc.
  • When it comes to distance programmes, the responsibility of solving most of these issues lies on supervisors, which takes away a lot of quality time from supervision as such.

 

  • In addition, if supervisors need to communicate something to a group of students at once, they can do so using the group communication feature (e. g. to send resources and research methods to all the “VT19” students).

 

Read more

Karunaratne T. 2018. Blended supervision for thesis projects in higher education: a case Study, The Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 16(2), pp 79‑90

Karunaratne, T., Hansson, H., and Aghaee N.  2017. The effect of multiple change processes on quality and completion rate of theses: A longitudinal study. Journal of Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice. Routledge, Taylor & Francis online

Table - Blended Supervision with SciPro (43 Kb)