Project Management of Exams

Motivation for the activity

The better a student can manage his/her exam project, the better the chances of an educational and satisfactory process as well as a good result. Many students cannot gain a comprehensive view of the examination process and they forget significant activities or carry them out in the wrong order.

Central learning outcomes for the activity

The objective is:

  • firstly, to emphasise to the students that the exam is in many cases a process which requires active management and an overview
  • secondly, to offer a tool in the form of a plan that can help the students to take control
  • thirdly, to give the students a feeling of an overview and hence increased energy and composure.

Description of the activity

This is a plan with 15 items, which the students are encouraged to follow step-by-step. The plan is practically formed as a poster, which can e.g. be handed out. All 15 items / activities have a heading and a brief explanatory text.

A distinction is made between written and oral exam projects in the plan. In some cases, the description of an item is the same for written and oral projects - in other cases there is a difference. The reasoning behind the plan is, however, that oral and written projects are so alike as far as the process is concerned, that they can be described with identical or at least similar activities.

The plan can in principle be handed out to the students without further explanation, but it will probably only come into its own if the individual items are described in more detail in relation to a specific course.

The poster can be found in two sizes: A 'small' size A3 (PDF) and a large size A0 (PDF). The large size is more than a meter high and can be used in the teaching situation (this requires a special printer), while the small can be given to students as handouts or via upload. The plan is in colour and it will lose some of its immediate appeal and clarity if printed in black and white. It does not work as a slide shown on a screen because there are too many details.

Outcome of the activity

There are books and articles on project management and planning. Many of them are excellent, but they often have the drawback that you must read a lot and that they often cover the topic of project management too generally. This 15 item plan provides, in a relatively short period of time, a view of all that is relevant for a very specific activity and genre: exam projects in the exploratory/explanatory genre of a humanistic university education.

The objective has thus been to create a 'Swiss army knife' for handling these types of exam processes. In other words, a relatively accessible model that is generally useful (independent of subjects and courses) within the genre's framework, and which can be described on one - admittedly very large - piece of paper. Even though there is a lot of information, the plan provides a feeling of overview and coherence which is hopefully real.

The intention is furthermore to give the students inspiration and a checklist, so that they hopefully do not forget significant phases of the process.

Challenges and special considerations

One drawback with the plan is that it is only self-explanatory to some degree. To properly benefit from the plan it ought to be included in a course where the importance of the 15 items is explained and trained by an experienced lecturer. You do not learn what a problem statement is just by reading that it is something found in exam assignments.

Another drawback is that not all items are equally relevant for all projects. This assessment must be carried out by the students themselves and there is a risk that the students will despair if the plan is regarded as a fixed recipe.

A final drawback is that you really need to have access to an A3 colour printer or a large format printer. An A0-size print costs approx. DKK 300 without mounting. Luckily, you can just use the plan electronically for free.

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Poster for managing projects