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School of Architecture Design and Planning

5.0 Semester Management

As a part of the quality assurance procedures at SADP, the content and course of the semesters are prepared by a planning group before semester start based on previous experience.  At the end of the semester there is an evaluation, and the experience gathered at the previous evaluations is kept for use in the planning of the equivalent semester the following year. The process ensures that the experiences, good and bad, are used to further develop and improve the quality of the study programmes in collaboration between supervisors, lecturers and students.

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Chapter 1: Tasks of the semester coordinator

The semester coordinator is the central responsible person for the semester, the Chair of the Study Board and the Head of School in regards to the planning, conduct and the following evaluation and presentation of accounts.

The semester coordinator is seen as the right-hand person of the Study Board in regards to the actual planning, management, monitoring and evaluation of the teaching and other activities of the semester. It is expected that the semester coordinator makes sure that there is cohesiveness and coordination of the semester activities (e.g. meetings held with the semester lecturers and project supervisors), among other things coordination prior to the project examination.

Semester coordinator responsibilities

The responsibility and tasks of the semester coordinator can be listed in brief as follows:

Planning meetings

  1. Call and conduct a planning meeting ahead of each semester (at the latest early August and early December 
  2. Involve previous year’s semester evaluation report and the follow up from the study board in this connection

Project catalogue

For project modules, where the students prepare their projects (does for instance not apply to all P0 courses)

  1. Ask for project proposals from the project supervisors (no later than mid-August and mid-January)
  2. Ensure that all proposals are within the theme frame for the semester and the learning goals of the project module
  3. Ensure that the project catalogue is ready no later than three days prior to semester start

Schedule etc. for the semester

  1. Plan the teaching and meeting activities, including suggestions for the roster in cooperation with the course responsible persons (including feedback about the employment of external lecturers, if needed, to the department in question)
  2. Shedule proposal is prepared by the study secretary
  3. Ensure a fair allocation of the student work load during the semester
  4. Determine and inform about the time of examinations (dates, information about aids as well as form of reexaminations are to be announced no later than four weeks prior to the exam)

Semester description and basic information about the semester

  1. Prepare new or revised semester descriptions which fulfill the template as well as send out the semester description for approval in the study board (no later than mid-August and mid-January). Template can be found in Moodle.
  2. Fill out schedule with basic information about the semester, and send the schedule to the school

Semester introduction meeting/semester start

  1. Conduct the first day of semester
  2. Inform the students about courses and project modules, project proposals, schedule, steering group/large group meetings, group formation, project hand-in (hard copy, project library, rules about handing in, Urkund etc.). Especially for the first study year: Fresher’s weekend, status seminar

Steering group and large group meetings etc.

  1. Determine and conduct at least three steering group/large group meetings[2] (standard agenda for inspiration in appendix 4)
  2. Censor minutes for private information before publication on Moodle and, if relevant, inform the study board (standard minutes for inspiration in appendix 5)
  3. Monitor any drop-outs from the semester and report this to the study board

Problem solving and special circumstances

  1. Intervene in problems arising during the semester and at steering group meetings. Perhaps by involving the the Head of School, the Chair of Study Board or the decentralised study counsellor.
  2. Inform Chair of Study Board and Head of School about unusual or particularly problematic circumtstances

Compilation and processing of external input regarding the study programme (including employers and graduates)

  1. In connection with steering group meetings: Write down remarks, evaluations and advice concerning the quality and relevancy of the study programme from external parties which have come to light in connection with e.g. project work, excursions etc.

Semester evaluation

  1. Prepare a draft for the semester evaluation report using the template in appendix 6. The report is first and foremost based on the completed semester evaluations (teaching evaluations) in SurveyXact, but may also include minutes of steering group and large group meetings etc. The semester coordinator then forwards a final evaluation report to the study board with conclusions and suggestions from the semester group.
  2. Send out the final report to the study board no later than wednesday week 10 for autumn semesters and end of first week of september for spring semesters.

Find out more about semester/teaching evaluation at: Evaluation Purpose, Function, Policies and Procedures

Chapter 2: Tasks of the co-coordinator

The co-coordinator primarily informs and coordinates the other students. The most important tasks of the co-coordinator are calling large group meetings/steering group meetings and ensuring the writing of minutes from the meetings. The student co-coordinator is appointed among the semester students. 

Chapter 3: Planning the semester

The Study Board secretary asks the department – via the semester coordinators – to proceed with the planning 2-4 months prior to semester start. At the same time the study board has asked the students to appoint members for the planning committee. The planning meetings are a very important element in order to achieve quality in the preparations.

The members of the planning committee

The planning committee consists of both lecturers and students. Besides the semester coordinator the course responsible person(s) of the semester attend(s). Normally 2-4 students participate; 1-2 students, who are starting the new semester and 1-2 of the students, who have just finished the semester. In this way it is ensured that the experiences of the students are included as a supplement to the semester evaluations and other material. At the first meeting of the planning committee or at a following meeting a student is appointed co-coordinator.

The tasks of the planning committee

The planning committee’s tasks and compentences – headed by the semester coordinator – are:

to prepare a proposal for the semester description including course descriptions as well as scheduling the semester. The schedule is planned so that Wednesday afternoon is exempted from normal course teaching. The final proposal for the semester description is sent for approval in the PG and L study boards.
to consider guest lectures and excursions, if any, within the announced financial frames from the study board regarding these kinds of activities. In both cases the hours for the lecturers must be taken from the total number of hours allocated for the semester. If excursions, study trips or the teaching in general produces costs (e.g. bus transportation, guide etc.) the semester coordinator is responsible for applying the relevant departments for financial coverage before the teaching activity takes place.

As background material for the work of the planning committee the study board secretary sends out:

  • the current semester description
  • last year’s total result of the semester evaluation
  • the recommendations of the study board to the planning committee for improving problems, if any

The planning committe is disbanded when the semester planning is over. Hereafter the semester coordinator is responsible for the conduct of the semester in cooperation with the student co-coordinator. 

Chapter 4: Semester conduct

Semester introduction

At semester start the semester coordinator introduces the curriculum of the semester, the semester description etc. to the students at a joint meeting and starts the semester, including group formation. The semester coordinator informs about learning goals, the context, the intentions and the goals; what are the students supposed to learn at this semester and how is that combined with what they have learned earlier and what they are going to learn later on? Status, where are we now and where do we stand, when this semester has ended?

Furthermore, the semester coordinator presents the line of course/project modules to the students and informs about how the courses supplement and fit into the semester context.

On the 1st-2nd semester of the bachelor programme and on the first semester of the master programme the semester coordinator also introduces the students to the culture of the teaching and evaluation which apply to the study programme, including which requirements and expectations that the students are expected to live up to.

During the semester the semester coordinator and the student co-coordinator must continuously make sure that the semester is progressing according to plan and to the guidelines of the study board.

Continuous adjustments

The semester coordinator is responsible for intervening if there are issues in the semester, which are not satisfying, e.g. with regard to the conduct of the course activities. The study board emphasizes that the semester coordinator tries to make adjustments and solve problems in a fast and flexible way. If a solution cannot be found, the Chair of the Study Board or the Head of School must be involved.

Steering group meetings/large group meetings

As mentioned the semester coordinator is responsible for calling and conducting at least 3 steering group/large group meetings every semester. The meetings must be scheduled beforehand and thus be a natural part of the semester schedule.

Besides this the student co-coordinator may, on a regular basis or when necessary, call (extra) large group meetings/steering group meetings where the status of the course of the semester and practical issues are discussed.

The meetings serve as a forum, in which both supervisors, lecturers, students and perhaps the student secretary can evaluate and adjust during the course of the semester.

The co-coordinator is responsible for writing minutes from each meeting. The study secretary makes sure that the minutes are placed in Moodle after each meeting. The purpose is to give all students and employees access to the written minutes both during the semester, but also afterwards.

These meetings have an agenda template  (see the right hand side of this webpage) – and also a template for minutes, which can be found in appendix 4 and 5 (for inspiration).

Chapter 5: Annual cycle of work related to evaluation of education and teaching

The annual cycle of work related to evaluation of education and teaching follows a stricht process that secures collection and processing of relevant student feedback. See the annual cycle here.

Chapter 6: Purpose of semester management

The content and course of the semesters are prepared by a planning group before semester start based on previous experience. When the semester has ended, an evaluation will be carried out and the experiences gathered from this evaluation will be kept for use in the planning of the equivalent semester the following year. This process ensures that the experiences, good and bad, are used to further develop and improve the quality of the study programmes in collaboration between supervisors, lecturers and students.

Composition of The Planning Group

A lecturer is appointed semester coordinator of the semester in question with a student as co-coordinator. The co-coordinator should be one of the students, who has been a member of the preceding planning group. The co-coordinator thus obtains knowledge of the semester evaluation from last year’s semester as well as in which way this evaluation is taken into account during the planning of the upcoming semester. This might also be an important basis for the evaluation of the upcoming semester. The co-coordinator plays a very important role in connection with the evaluation of the individual courses and the semester as a whole. The co-coordinator can always ask advice and guidance from the Chair of the Study Board about problems which are not easily solved.

Problem solving during the semester 

The Study Board emphasises that any practical problems concerning courses, the organization of large groups etc. are to be solved when they occur, if possible, while the overall evaluation of the semester, its content, project work etc. naturally cannot take place until the end of the semester. This means that the semester coordinator together with the student co-coordinator play an active part during the semester.