The 'master's dissertation fair': reflections on impact and future development
Keywords:dissertation support, webinars, postgraduate taught students
Every year in early spring, postgraduate taught (PGT) students start preparing for their dissertation project. At the University of Reading, this time coincides with the end of teaching, including the Library seminars supporting skills development. Acknowledging that our sessions were ill-timed to support effectively our PGT students at a challenging stage in their degree trajectory, the Study Advice and Academic Liaison teams at the University of Reading Library trialled in June 2020 a week of webinars tailored to PGT level and focusing on elements of the dissertation. The Master’s Dissertation Fair was born! The popularity and positive reception of the initiative took us by surprise and motivated us to continue running the Master’s Dissertation Fair as an annual tradition ever since.
In this session, we shared our reflections on the successes and lessons learnt from the first three iterations of this programme, focusing on its Study Advice component. We reviewed the student feedback collected post session and explored what the impact was on our one-to-one service in supporting PGT students with dissertation projects over the summer. We also discussed how this initiative impacted our team, as it provided a (rare for us) opportunity to plan and develop collaboratively a coherent and complementary set of sessions. Finally, we explored how this reflection on impact can inform our planning for a more holistic approach to PGT support. For example, are there opportunities to use new formats beyond the webinar? What else could we do to improve our reach and inclusivity?
Coneyworth, L., Jessop, R., Maden, P. and Whitethor, G. (2019) ‘The overlooked cohort? – Improving the taught postgraduate student experience in higher education’. Innovations in Education and Teaching International 57, pp. 262-273. doi: 10.1080/14703297.2019.1617184.
Crisfield, M. D. (2020) “Making the transition to master’s dissertation writing: evaluating the impact of a dissertation writing course on PGT students’ confidence”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (17). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi17.561.
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