Bielefeld graduate and student study
Calls to strengthen and improve quality assurance measures in teaching and learning (not least in conjunction with the introduction of study fees) are on the increase both inside and outside of higher education. Moreover, student and graduate surveys are also standard requirements for-accreditation procedures. As part of the ‘Target and performance agreement III’ with the Ministry of Innovation, Science, Research and Technology of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Bielefeld University has committed itself to ‘installing procedures for tracking what happens to graduates.’ The goal of the BASS project is to develop and apply a high-quality innovative instrument that will not only gather feedback from students and graduates but also relate the course of studies to the experiences of graduates in order to gain important indications regarding possible ways to improve teaching and learning. What’s special about this study compared to the usual ways of surveying graduates is that it will recruit a panel and follow it up over the course of studies until its members start their careers. This makes it possible not only to gather and analyse data on the current study situation and what happens to graduates, but also to examine the relation between the course of studies and graduates’ careers. It should deliver much better data than that gathered in the usual kinds of surveys and provide a new basis for the faculties to critically reflect on and improve their degree programmes.
Going beyond just collecting data on what happens to graduates, such surveys can serve as an important instrument for quality assurance in teaching and learning when they are designed to deliver information on such questions as: How do graduates master the transition from studying to their careers? Which tasks do their careers confront them with, and how do they cope with them? How do they appraise their studies in retrospective? Looking at the individual contents of teaching and types of teaching, the accompanying counselling and supervision, and the knowledge and competencies acquired during their studies, how significant do they consider these to have been for their entry into employment and their further careers? What do they miss when looking back? The findings from the graduate survey will provide direct suggestions for the design and further development of degree programmes and study conditions. The goal is to use the results of the surveys as a basis for developing concrete measures to improve teaching and learning. This will be even more successful when surveys of graduates are linked to student surveys, because only this will make it possible to track qualification processes.
The BASS project will start with a written survey of graduates from all faculties. This offers a unique opportunity to gain comparative data on the transition from the ‘old’ to the ‘new’ structure of degree programmes. Such data will be of great importance when it comes to analysing the results of future student and graduate surveys. The second step will be to set up a regular online student survey (the panel approach) with content that can be linked to the graduate survey.