The pilot courses on transferable skills developed by DocEnhance are regularly evaluated throughout the project. Participant students to the first round of pilot courses provided their feedback through an online questionnaire. Representants from higher education institutions, but also potential employers also provided feedback on the courses and the platform during a Stakeholder Evaluation Workshop.
On September 13th 2021, the DocEnhance consortium celebrated the Stakeholder Evaluation Workshop (SEW), in the frame of the EUA-CDE Annual Meeting, with the double objective of:
- presenting the first prototype of the DocEnhance Platform and its contents (the three transferable skills courses designed and piloted by different consortium members on Supervision, Data Management, and Career Management and Entrepreneurship) to interested stakeholders, and
- collecting vital external feedback and suggestions regarding its usefulness, usability and possible areas of improvement.
Participants included 19 external stakeholders and 20 project partners’ staff members from 12 countries. The institutional profile of external participants was varied: university (60%), business sector (30%), research centre (5%), and NGO (5%). Participants’ professional profile was also diverse, including for example: PhD candidate, PhD supervisor, doctoral school or programme staff, research associate, full professor, entrepreneurship coach, project manager, human resources manager.
The workshop was held online. After a welcome message from Alexander Hasgall, Head of the EUA Council for Doctoral Education and DocEnhance External Advisor, Hanne Risan Johnsen, DocEnhance Project Coordinator (UIT) presented the project’s main outlines. Followed a brief overview of the DocEnhance Platform by Fabiana Minneci (EUF) and Evangelos Chondrokostas (AUTh), before discussions with stakeholders in 3 breakout groups for each course.
Participants were questioned on:
- Their vision for a course on Data Stewardship/Career Management and Entrepreneurship/Supervision
- How the DocEnhance course concept fit this vision?
- What learning outcomes should be expected from this course?
- Do you think that the course design, contents, methodology, learning materials and guidelines facilitate the expected learning outcomes?
- When you look at the curriculum, is there anything you feel is missing?
- Is there anything you consider superfluous?
- How can we improve these aspects of the course?
After the workshop participants were invited to complete their input with a brief individual questionnaire.
Feedback gathered from the SEW discussions and questionnaires, together with the evaluation of the first implementation of the pilot courses will be taken into consideration when refining the course concept and content for the second round, foreseen for spring 2022, as well as for further development of the DocEnhance platform.
General satisfaction with course design, structure and content
Positive feedback was received from participants in the Stakeholder Evaluation Workshop (SEW) regarding the design, structure and content of the three DocEnhance pilot courses under evaluation: Supervision, Data Stewardship, and Career Management and Entrepreneurship.
Suggestions for course improvement
While participants did not mention any aspects of the courses as unnecessary, they did point out areas of improvement with regards to the course curriculum, with suggestions of further content to be developed:
- Supervision course
- Online/digital supervision
- Wellbeing of both doctoral candidates and supervisors
- Rights and obligations of supervisors
- Good practices in supervision (for example, informal interdisciplinary discussion forums on supervision organised at the faculty level)
- Data Stewardship course
- Data management and data handing skills needed outside academia / research ethics and integrity
- Trustworthy software
- Data standardisation and data formats
- Implications in terms of data management when considering to develop research into business (i.e. core issues related to entrepreneurship)
- Career Management and
- General soft skills (negotiation, communication, team work and team management, critical thinking, flexibility, networking …)
- (Hard) business skills (funding, business terminology, patents, financing skills, business plan, policies and protocols, NDA, sales, basic legal notions …)
- (Soft) business skills (business culture – values, dynamics, organisational structures and charts, processes and stereotypes, time management)
- Personal/life skills (self-assessment tools, self-awareness, mindfulness … )
- Emotional intelligence (focus on how to work better in a team, for instance, how to be a better team player or how to be a better team leader)
- Professional mobility (moving between sectors and workplaces)
Participants in the different break-out group discussions also called for a more interactive and/or experiental approach to the courses.
Main evaluation outcomes from questionnaires
Positive feedback from participants on the DocEnhance platform and the workshop itself was confirmed by the individual questionnaires.
Suggestions were made for further improvement of the workshop, for example by diving deeper into how to improve job searching skills or learning how to improve/monitor the relationship between doctoral candidates and their supervisors.
Regarding the DocEnhance Platform, several respondents called for a forum for learners and teachers to post questions and comments, and to interact. One respondent mentioned that a course on research integrity would also be useful to PhD candidates and researchers in general. Both suggestions were also made during the break-out group discussions.
The feedback regarding the courses was generally in line with the feedback received from the evaluation of the first round of the pilot courses and will be taken into account for the second round of pilot courses.