The increased enrolment of students at Wageningen University in general, and particularly in the Plant Sciences domain evidently results in an increased number of thesis students at chair groups.
The classical model in thesis supervision is one main supervisor (PhD student, post doc or staff member) for each student. This supervision format has worked well so far. However, maintaining the quality of supervision can become a challenge in the coming years when the number of students per supervisor rises. To maintain and even improve the quality of thesis supervision, the Nematology chair group has adapted and implemented a so-called Thesis Ring system, which was originally designed for use in a social sciences setting. A Thesis Ring consists of a group of students (7-10) that share their written work (both proposals and thesis reports) and orally discuss the quality of the work together in weekly meetings. Students will learn to review each other’s texts. Peer reviewing is an important skill in the world of science that is often underrepresented in the thesis phase of students. Within the ring, aspects concerning both experimental design as well as scientific writing skills are discussed. A staff member or Post Doc is present at each meeting to chair the meetings, to supervise the process and the quality of given feedback. A supportive online platform on Blackboard is used for the planning of submissions, sharing of documents, exchange of good practice examples, instructions and other supporting information. Inherently, the extra task of reviewing takes time and effort. Nevertheless, internal evaluations have shown that students highly appreciate this new supervision element within their thesis at Nematology.