Project: Implementation of Thesis rings

The increased enrolment of students at Wageningen University logically coincides with an increased number of thesis students at WU chair groups. The classical approach to thesis supervision is for each student to have one main supervisor (PhD student, post doc or staff member). This supervisor is responsible for teaching the student to design, organise and execute laboratory experiments. Also, the supervisor provides feedback on the thesis research proposal and thesis report, thus teaching the student scientific writing skills. 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. This project aims at improving the efficiency while at the same time raising the quality of MSc and BSc thesis supervision. Thereto, students will be inspired to take a more active and responsible role in their thesis project.

The aim of this project is to increase the capacity of thesis supervision within WU chair groups by:

  • Improving the efficiency of thesis supervision by changing the role of the student through the introduction of a peer learning system.
  • Raising the quality of thesis supervision by developing a peer learning system.
  • Increasing the active participation of students within thesis projects.
  • Developing a system to improve laboratory supervision.

The project would concern the first implementation of a thesis ring system at WU. Other Dutch universities (Maastricht and Tilburg) have already successfully implemented the thesis ring system in the social sciences. In the life sciences and environmental sciences an important part of the thesis is devoted to experimental (field) work requiring another modus operandi.

The currently existing examples of and guidelines for the implementation of the thesis ring system are focussed on social science chair groups. We want to revise these existing formats and create guidelines that are suitable for use in experimental life sciences and environmental sciences.  

Students will learn to review scientific papers. Peer reviewing is an important skill in the world of science that has been, so far, underrepresented in the curriculum of educational programs of WU.

Students are stimulated to take a more active role in their thesis project concerning planning, finding relevant instructions and protocols, expert consultation, peer feedback as well as the revision of their written work. Experiencing this active role, which compared to the classic format leans more towards what is expected in a real-life work situations, can facilitate the students’ transition from their thesis to their future occupation.