This short evaluation aims to provide some insight in how the summer school attendants valued our summer school and certain elements in it. More importantly it will list the constructive criticism many of the attendants have made that can be used to improve the quality of further summer schools.
The overall score on the evaluation forms is high. Taking together, the three elements attendants were asked to evaluate (overall structure, achievement of objectives and the individual themes), the score is a solid 4.0 (on a scale from 1 to 5). This is an obvious indication that attendants were quite enthusiastic about the whole week.
In the following the three elements will be dealt with separately. First interesting outcomes of the evaluation will be given. Followed by an overview of the comments of participants. The evaluation ends on conclusions with a list of recommendations.
The attendants seem to be very pleased with the structure of the summer school it scores a 4.1. The one-week format, the social programme and above all, the overall organisation by CHEPS are highly valued (respectively 4.5, 4.5 and 4.6). The attendants are more critical about the preparation through email, an element that scores a meagre 3.3.
The comments attendants have on the overall structure fall apart in three categories: preparation, format and facilities. In terms of preparation several attendants state that they would like to do more pre-summer-school work. Two recommendations were made by attendants. First, that it should be clearer how much of the reading should be done beforehand. Second, that preparation through email should be more formally co-ordinated.
In general attendants like the week and the format: 'Great informative week. Great concept.' Criticism is aimed at three elements. First, a lack of small group discussion, i.e. some attendants would have liked to have more inter-action with there sub-group. On attendant suggests an 'introductions without a conclusion followed by small group discussion (five groups) followed by a plenary debate. This creates livelier debate and more sub-group co-operation.' On the other hand one attendant states 'Great experience. Succeeded in creating an atmosphere in which it was possible to speak to 35 people personally during the week.' So the problem of a large group is not felt by everyone.
In the second place several attendants found the programme too tight. They would have liked to use the CHEPS-library or the town and found they had no time that. Several suggestions are made: '
- 'Theme two and four can be combined'
- 'Four themes with one day for reflection/ review'
- 'More focus on innovative approaches and shorter paper presentations.
Thirdly, three attendants mention that an internationally more balanced composition would improve the summer school. Specifically the under-representation of Central and Eastern Europe and the absence of South Americans are mentioned.
Several people state that CHEPS staff and students looked after the attendants extremely well. But in terms of facilities there are three complaints made by several attendants. First that access to IT should be provided. Secondly that the catering should be improved. Both the fact that water was not always available and the monotony of the lunches were mentioned. Finally there should be more information on where to eat after the summer school. One attendant suggested we build a good a good restaurant on Campus. Another suggested providing a one-page summer school survival guide, with information on where to eat and at what time things close, etc. The social programme is generally liked. Only one attendant complains that there was no music from Monday to Thursday and suggests an outing to Hengelo.
Achievement of objectives
Attendants were quite happy with the extent to which the summer school achieved its objectives. The attendants were especially positive about the possibility to meet the established scholars in higher education research (rewarding it with a score of 4.4). They were most critical about the contribution the summer school made to the development of 'innovative directions for research relevant to contemporary and future higher education issues and themes' valuing it with a score of 3.4.
In terms of the objectives comments are made with regard to the learning experience. Most attendants found the summer school stimulating:
- 'It was helpful to spend time with people working in similar area.'
- 'It has helped to clarify ideas in regard to thesis.'
- 'Lot of new ideas for starting a thesis.'
One attendant complains that: 'the more vocal students got more attention, this was a barrier to express ideas that were not clear on one's mind.' This point is obviously linked to the one above on working in smaller groups.
In terms of content several attendants would have liked more theoretical and methodological issues. One attendant wants more attention for innovative approaches.
With respect to the objective to develop a network, one attendant states that this 'will need some institutionalisation of these contacts, e.g. a mailing list to send questions, announcements.'
Concerning bridging the generation gap one attendant comments that 'asking established scholars to comment on papers will not close the generation gap, more intense collaboration is necessarily.'
The overall score on the themes is 3.8 there is very little variation over the different themes with the exception of the theme 'modes of co-ordination', which received a score of 3.1.
Breaking the score for the themes down to the scores for lectures, convening and papers several scores are interesting. All lectures received scores close to four, again with the exception of modes of co-ordination where the score was 3.1. The same pattern holds for convening with exceptions for the theme of strategies for the adaptive university, where the score was 4.5, and modes of co-ordination where participants gave a score of 2.8. The papers (and presentations/ discussion) in general received lower scores than the lectures with modes of co-ordination and strategies for the adaptive university scoring below average with respectively 3.4 and 3.5.
The attendant, were, in general, very pleased with the lectures. Only two participants, comment on the fact that there were three historians, as slightly unbalanced.
Some specific comments are made on specific lectures. One attendant comments that on some days it was difficult to link lecture with papers. But that in this respect the lecture on the Stakeholder Society was most helpful to structure the rest. The lecture of theme two had according to several attendants an interesting perspective but did not really address the issue sufficiently. One attendant found the lecture on theme five too much of a South African case study.
The papers and their presentation get two types of comments by several attendants. First, that in general the papers where good, but they should be more on theoretical/ empirical research and less on personal experiences, i.e. less descriptive of countries general HE systems. Second, that the time schedule should be more fixed and that the last day suffered from time-pressure.
The attendants have been pleased with the structure of the summer school: it scores an overall of 4.1. The one-week format, the social programme and above all, the overall organisation by CHEPS are highly valued (respectively 4.5, 4.5 and 4.6). The attendants are more critical about the preparation through email, an element that scores a meagre 3.3. Apart from this attendants pointed out several weaknesses in the overall structure. Firstly, the lack of small group discussion. Secondly, the tight schedule of the summer school. Finally, the low quality of catering at Logica.
Several recommendations are made:
- To formalise the preparation through email with a more steering role for the convenors.
- To improve the quality of the reading lists and make clearer what should be read in advance.
- To create time for discussion in the sub-groups.
- To limit the amount of topics to four and have one day for reflection and evaluation.
- To have one afternoon of.
- To create time to visit CHEPS and the CHEPS library.
- To provide access to IT.
- To improve catering.
- To create a survival guide on where to eat and when things close, etc.
Achieving the objectives
Attendants were in general satisfied with the achievement of the objectives, especially with meeting the established scholars in the field of Higher Education (score of 4.4). The participants were most critical about the contribution the summer school made to the development of 'innovative directions for research relevant to contemporary and future higher education issues and themes'
Several recommendations are made:
- To have more lectures on methodological and theoretical issues.
- To institutionalise the network created by the summer school through a mailing-list.
Attendants were quite satisfied with all themes (average of 3.8). The theme that received a significantly lower score was 'modes of co-ordination', the lecturer and the convenor scored low on this theme.
- To diversify the background of lecturers
- To make clearer what exactly the purpose of the papers is:
- To present a personal research project or to co-operate with others?
- To present something descriptive or more theoretical?