Proficiency Evaluation Survey Results

In April 2019 a survey about the PE was conducted. Doctoral students were asked to give feedback on the PE by e-mail. Some data tables are presented in the upcoming section, followed by summarized full text answers.

Data Tables

How students reported if they felt the PE was helpful

 

helpful

not helpful

passed

17

11

not attempted

22

17

 

How students, who already did the PE, reported the effort required to pass the PE

 

0-3 weeks

3-6 weeks

6-9 weeks

9-12 weeks

12+ weeks

research proposal

11

8

5

2

2

presentation

24

3

1

0

0

finding a national expert

21

2

0

1

4

finding a chair person

22

2

2

1

1

finding a date

17

5

1

2

3

 

How students, who have not attended the PE; reported their expected effort required to pass the PE

 

0-3 weeks

3-6 weeks

6-9 weeks

9-12 weeks

12+ weeks

research proposal

5

12

8

5

9

presentation

27

9

1

2

0

finding a national expert

13

9

10

2

5

finding a chair person

16

9

5

6

3

finding a date

17

13

4

4

1

 

 

How students reported how well they felt informed

 

passed

expectations

not well informed

10

17

quite ok informed

10

17

very well informed

6

5

 

How students reported the time between enrollment and submission

before 0.5 years

4

between 0.5 and 1 year

6

between 1 and 1.5 years

7

between 1.5 and 2 years

7

between 2 and 3 years

2

more than 3 years

0

 

How students reported their expected submission time from now (survey was conducted in april 2019)

before 0.5 years

8

between 0.5 and 1 year

15

between 1 and 1.5 years

3

between 1.5 and 2 years

1

between 2 and 3 years

0

more than 3 years

0

 

Who supported the students, according to their reports:

 

who supported

who does not support

peers

11

17

PostDocs

2

26

supervisor/instructor/mentor

23

5

administrative staff

2

26

deans office

2

26

others

0

0

 

 

The following paragraph summarizes common answers in the full-text answers.

What was helpful?

The research proposal for the PE helps students to focus the topic and to set up a research plan. Valuable feedback and ideas about potential pitfalls are gained from all stakeholders: the dean, a national expert and co-supervisor.

What was in the way?

Students criticize that in the early times of the PhD studies, the research plan is not totally clear. If the research afterwards is only slightly changed, PhD students are forced to repeat the evaluation. The time students need for preparing the presentation and dealing with all the administrative stuff is too much in relation to the amount and usefulness of the feedback they got. Finding a national expert with the expertise on special research fields is difficult.

For whom was the PE a negative experience?

Students, who see the PE as an unnecessary workload are mostly doing a structured study. There are doctoral schools or projects, that are fund by a research project like an EU research project, that have already defined research plans and formulated research questions. In those cases, students do not see a lot of additional benefits in the PE, on the contrary they report additional administrative workload.

For whom was the PE a positive experience?

Students, who see the PE positive have mostly no research goal defined by a doctoral school or a funding body and use the PE to get feedback. Hence, they are describing the PE as a positive experience.

What students advise colleagues to do about PE

Two pieces of advice dominated. On the one hand, respondents recommend doing PE at an early stage in their studies. On the other hand, there are opinions that PE should be done at the end of studies.

Further inputs:

Students are not sure, when they should do their PE.

Most students do not feel sufficiently informed.

Students are worried that the PE has a deterrent effect on applicants for studies at the TU Wien.