Helsinki 2010

INTERNAL EVALUATION – CONCLUSIONS

by Prof. Svetlana Hristova

The purpose of the internal evaluation was to receive more insights about the students’ perceptions of the IP during the two weeks which would enable us to improve the course structure and its overall design.

The average scores allow to compare indicators and to follow the dynamics of the students’ evaluation, but we should also pay attention to the way average scores have been obtained: for example, the seemingly equal scores of 4.037, given during the first week to the questions of ‘Learning more about Finland and Helsinki’ and ‘Developing sensitivity for intercultural communication’ are internally constructed in different way: there is more unity of opinions about the course as an opportunity to develop sensitivity for intercultural communication, while there have been obviously different expectations about what should be the cultural program of the IP, that is why cultural events have been evaluated with the most diverse range from ‘bad’ to ‘excellent’.

Here I selected several main indicators which give us general orientation about the first and second IP weeks according to students’ assessments.

How do you estimate I week4.10 II week3.30 Margine– 0.80
the organization 4.29 2.94 – 1.35
the IP content 4.07 3.48 – 0.59
the cultural events 3.44 3.29 – 0.15
the whole atmosphere 4.59 3.45 – 1.14

During the first week students have been most contented with the whole atmosphere of the IP (4.59), its organization (4.29) and its content (4.07), while least satisfied with the cultural events. During the second week students tend to lower the scores, and this decrease in their assessments refers mostly to the organization (- 1.35) and the whole atmosphere (- 1.14). Generally, the first week was evaluated more highly than the second one and besides various objective reasons like change of the teaching staff and the introduction of new probably more difficult pedagogical and epistemological tasks, we can add the growing fatigue and stress from the learning process. Therefore we can estimate as appropriate the two-week length of the IP which should not be extended.

Students estimate positively mixing of students from these countries, as well as from bachelor and master programs. For them the informal effects from the course (“gathering informal impressions about students from different parts of Europe” – 4.44) are even more important than the knowledge they receive in the learning process about various cultural policies (3.65) and different European cultures (4.40).

Nevertheless, whatever are the details of this learning and self-learning process, meaningful fact is that by the end of the second week 100% of students were ready to recommend the IP to their friends.

EXTERNAL EVALUATION

by Prof. Dr. Birgit Mandel, Institut für Kulturpolitik, Universität Hildesheim

The project comprises an exchange of students and lecturers from the cultural management studies of the South West University Neofit Rilsky/ Bulgaria, the Humak University of Applied Sciences/ Finland and the College of Education Ludwigsburg/ Germany.

Originally, a Polish culture administration program was supposed to take part. However, they withdrew on short notice after the colleague in charge of the program left the college.

After individual preparations of each of the participating parties, consisting of a seminar at their own universities as well as exchanges between students and lecturers via videoconference, email and intranet, all participants met for two weeks in Helsinki/ Finland.

Subsequently the results were evaluated and the integral presentations were prepared for publication.

The Project Preparation Phase:

Obviously, the tool videoconference proved less suited for communication during the preparation. The setting up of an intranet, in which questions, project ideas and different material can be gathered and exchanged, proved to be very helpful and should be developed further.

The topics prepared by the students and lecturers were very well chosen, consisting of the analysis of the self-perception of one’s country, the perception by foreigners as well as the image of the other participants countries. Furthermore, knowledge on the intellectual history, cultural traditions, culture policy structures and central cultural ideas of one’s country was compiled and prepared as presentations for the first meetings in Turku. In my opinion the preparation and presentation of the topic “European Identity” by all countries was especially important, because this is what all European projects are finally about.

The Project Implementation Phase:

The differentiated internal evaluation, foremost the survey conducted with the participants after the first as well as second week, the splitting of which proved insightful, can be assessed as positive. In total, the survey showed a high rate of satisfaction with the project.

Striking was the fact that the satisfaction was much higher after the first week compared to the second. This was explained through, among other things, the occurrence of a fatiguing effect. Considering that the students simultaneously said that two weeks was not sufficient time (- including the weekend into the project should be considered – ) other reasons should be pursued. During the first week the participants got to know each other, presented their findings to each other and reflected on these together. In the second week the focus was on working on projects in mixed teams of students led by a lecturer. In view of the aspect that was rated lowest by the participants: the discovery of the host country‘s cultural facilities and projects, one may assume that the students spent most of the second week in project groups in the University.

They missed exploring real places, meeting people engaged in the cultural sector, discussions and analysis on-site. Yet, these should form an important part of such a program, because direct contact and viewing make the learning process most effective. Getting to know and reflecting on cultural facilities as well as people engaged in the cultural sector of the host country should be given a higher priority.

The intercultural meetings during the project were rated highest, which mirrors experiences made by participants of many prior EU-projects in the cultural sector. Their value is not derived from cognitive analytical work, as results on the subject usually tend to be rather modest. Far more, the main value derives from meeting colleagues and students from other European countries, learning about differences and similarities. For this reason it should be the focus of the project. This does not mean that one should leave out the development of a common project, because this part reveals the differences of how people work. For future culture managers, who work on increasingly international markets, this is a valuable lesson, from which intercultural competences may evolve.  The idea of working on a project together is thus in principle very sensible. However, these projects should be accompanied by excursions and practical examples, so that the work can be pursued less abstractly.

The host student team should view the planning and Implementation of the two week encounter as an educationally valuable and essential assignment concerning cultural management and in light of this be done professionally.

Moreover, the students themselves, instead of the lecturers, should develop proposals and discuss and chose proposals for the projects via the intranet with their fellow students from partner countries. This way it would be sure that the chosen fields are of interest to the students. Still, a lecturer or even better a team of lecturers from two countries could prepare the projects content and methods to ensure a high quality.

Last of all attention should be paid to the composition of the teams to make sure that the teams are in fact mixed and are composed of students from each participating country equally.

To support and enhance diversity some of the participants suggested including a southern European country such as Spain or Italy in the next meeting. For this reason one should try to find a partner from this region.

The Project Post processing Phase:

In the relatively short period of time of a few months the participants were able to create and publish a very sophisticated, differentiated and intelligent book on the project. It entails background information on the cultural policy and heritage of the individual countries, which are very valuable for international cultural administration, as well as facts and reflections on the development of the cultural sector in Europe as a whole and background information concerning the projects topics.

The most interesting part is the evaluation of the presentations about the images of Europe in reference to the individual country images which the students themselves worked out, as it shows how the perception of the European identity is formed by national factors. These articles clearly show that cultural developments and culture policy structures are not a given, but depend on the traditions of a country and for this reason can be questioned and influenced, a valuable insight for prospective culture administrators and managers.

Overall assessment:

Overall the project is an exchange well designed by culture management students and lecturers. If systematically reflected on, very valuable intercultural competences can be drawn from such intercultural conventions, which are indispensible for future cultural managers.

Advertisements