Items for assessment of master theses in mathematics education at UIA.
There are two examiners on a master thesis, on internal examiner ( not the supervisor) and one external examiner. No later than 24 hours ahead of the oral examination, the student is given information whether the thesis has passed or not based on evaluation of its written form. Grade is given based on examination of the written thesis and the final grade is given after the oral defence. The oral defence can maximum adjust the grade one level up or one level down. Both the grade after only the examination of the written text and the final grade after the oral defence are announced a few minutes after the oral defence. The oral examination is used to have a critical conversation of the work, with an aim of increased insight into students' competence in the area of research and ability to reflect on his/her work.
The six numbered items below are in particular used in the judgment of the thesis. The items are exemplified for master theses in mathematics education where empirical data and/or study of educational resources are included. For master theses focusing on a study of a problem in mathematics or history of mathematics with relevance in teaching, the same items are relevant but concretized for that particular topic.
1. Problem and aim: Is the aim with the thesis and research questions clearly motivated, relevant and justified?
2. Theory and previous research: Is the presentation of theory and overview of previous research relevant for the study and done in an independent way?
3. Method: Is the design, methods for data collection, overview of empirical data and methods for data analysis, research ethics, validity and reliability presented and justified for example with reference to the research questions?
4. Results, discussion and conclusion: Is there a clear and credible presentation of analytical findings, discussion informed by previous research and theory, and endpoints in the form of conclusions? Are possible relevant consequences for mathematics teaching presented?
5. Critical perspective on the work: Is there a critical discussion of limitations and strengths; for example relationships between research questions, analytical findings and choice of methods?
6. Structure, consistence and language: Is there internal consistence between the different parts of the thesis, is there a clear and visible structure and language, are the formal guidelines for the structure of the thesis followed in according with the desorption on: scope and layout.
Link between items for assessment and the national grade descriptions of master theses.
In the generic national grade descriptions of Master's theses, each grade is described with five indents where the first indent is a qualitative overall description of the work. Below is the five indents for the grade A presented. To simplify the reference to each indent, they are in the below overview labelled i), ii), iii), iv) and v):
i) An outstanding thesis which clearly demonstrates a talent for research and/or originality, in a national perspective.
ii) The candidate has very good insight into the scientific theory and methods in his/her field and has demonstrated scientific knowledge at a very high level. The objectives of the thesis are well defined a nd easy to understand.
iii) The candidate is able to select and apply relevant scientific methods convincingly, has all the technical skills required for the work, can plan and conduct very advanced experiments or computations without help, and works very independently.
iv) The thesis is considered very extensive and/or innovative. The analysis and discussion have an extremely good scientific foundation and justification, and are clearly linked to the topic that is addressed. The candidate demonstrates extremely good critical reflection and distinguishes clearly between his/her contributions and the contributions from others.
v) The form, structure and language in the thesis are at an extremely high level.
Indent ii) measures in particular elements in our items 1,2 and 3. Indent iii) is not that prominent for master thesis in mathematics education, but is partly related to items 3, 4 an 6 in relationship to independence, choice of methods, justification of methods and in the ability to present analytical findings. Indent iv) is particularly related to item 4 and 5, while indent v) is related to item 6.
The way of describing each grade, with five indents and mainly as relative degreed formulation in the national grade description is used consistently for the grades A, N, F. Thus, a similar between these five indents and out 6 items are found also for the other grades.
Differences in assessment of 30 and 60 study points master theses.
Students with background from a bachelor in mathematics are usually writing a 60 study point master thesis while other students usually write master thesis counting 30 study point.
The extent of study points illustrate a difference in the amount of expected work done with the master thesis (respectively 800 and 1600 working hours).
The extent of supervision is according to our guidelines calculated to be twice as much for a 60 study point master thesis compared to a 30 study point master thesis.
The expected number of pages in the master theses is calculated to respectively 80-120 pages and 50-80 pages.
Both types of master theses are judged based on the same generic description of grades, but the qualitative expectations for a given grade will be higher for 60 study points' theses. For example, a larger extent and depth of the research based literature, focus and insight will be expected for a 60 study point thesis compared to a 30 study point thesis.