University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)

BSc Stage 3 Group Project

Background

Industrial/commercial businesses are invited to propose projects appropriate for scientific investigation by a self-managing team of four to six of our BSc Physics students who are in their final year. These projects are authentic; there are no laboratory-scripts and no 'correct' answers that are known in advance. Students benefit by developing skills and experience that enhance their employability, and will gain insight the needs of business and the opportunities available to them as physicists. Clients benefit by having a highly-motivated team of senior undergraduates, working gratis on their project with technical guidance from a consultant who is one the Physics academic staff.

Organisation and Management

Students undertake a project normally in Term 2 (Jan-Mar). Students are allocated to teams by the module coordinator, who aims to ensure good mix of skills in each group. Each student is expected to work on the project for the hours specified by the module descriptor:

Teams must meet together on a weekly basis and keep minutes of those meetings.

The students are provided with a staff consultant from the Physics Department, whose role is to facilitate the project and also to assess the work. The department provides lab space, computer facilities and access to standard laboratory equipment, plus a small budget (typically £200-300) for the purchase of equipment and consumables and (if necessary) travel.

Student teams meet with their client at the beginning of their project and provide an oral presentation and a copy of their report to their client at the end. If the project has required that they build a piece of equipment, this is normally provided to the client too.

Information For Clients Proposing Projects

Suitable Projects

Projects should be of interest from a business business point-of-view, but should cover topics that clients don't have the time, resources or expertise to pursue in-house. Suitable examples could include: a preliminary investigation of a new idea, testing of new devices or materials, investigation of curious phenomena observed in the development laboratories, or simply questions for which a fresh perspective might be helpful. There is no need for clients to have in-house scientific laboratories or expertise. Examples of potentially suitable projects could include:

What to Expect

These projects can be a very effective way of performing a preliminary investigation, getting equipment and/or software produced or even finding a solution to a niggling problem. However, clients should be aware that their teams consist of students, and some are inevitably better than others! Although in general the teams perform well there is no guarantee that an answer to the problem will be forthcoming. In addition, sometimes a team makes excellent progress towards a solution, but there is not enough time to finish the project in the course of a single term. In such cases, we can run a follow-up project in the next available term with a different team of students.

Commitments

A client is expected to:

  1. Provide information for a short (ca 500 words) brief for the students to read in advance of an initial meeting.
  2. Meet with the students at the start of their project (October or January), ideally at the client's premises.
  3. If the proposal requires it, loan specialised equipment.
  4. Be prepared to answer e-mail queries from the students, and optionally contribute to to a mid-project review.
  5. Listen to the students' final presentation, either at the University in Exeter or at the client's premises.
  6. Read the students' final report and provide feedback for the academic staff who will be marking the project.

Contact Details

Potential clients who would like to discuss ideas for in projects should express interest by contacting the Module Leader Dr Charles D. H. Williams by email in the first instance to arrange a mutually convenient time to meet or have a telephone conversation.

Information For Students Undertaking Projects

Read the BSc Physics Group Project module descriptor:

in conjunction with the notes and links below, which describe the assignments in greater detail and the criteria that will be used to assess them. The relative weighting of assignments, word-limits and deadlines for submission are given in the module descriptor.

Individual Project Work and Notebooks

Students are required to keep an individual diary notebook detailing the work undertaken on their project. It is mandatory that a bound book is used; scraps of paper or loose-leaf files will receive fewer marks. Only the original notes will be considered, not neat copies.

Assessed Group Work

The Report

The team mark for this assessment (out of maximum 100) relates to a weighted average of the following four aspects each of which is marked out of 100 using the Group-Work Marking Scale below. Individual marks (out of 100) will be assigned using Sharp's Method, described elsewhere in the Physics Handbook.

Ref.AspectTotals
(a)Business and Scientific Context 
The problem(s) that were the subject of the investigation are described and put in context. Both the business aspects (i.e. the aims and constraints of the client business) and scientific aspects (established knowledge) should be discussed. The ethical and legal constraints, and IPR issues relevant to the project are identified and discussed. Include a rationale for the project management, team organisation, planning and communication methods used for the project.
Weight:10%Mark (max 100):???Weight × Mark =???
(b)Project Management 
The project aims were broken down into achievable objectives. Resources (human, physical, time, money) were used appropriately in a properly planned and controlled manner. Which objectives were achieved, and how. Which objectives were not achieved, and why. Health and Safety risk assessment. How was work prioritised and scheduled, what contingencies were planned for? An evaluation the effectiveness of the methods used and their contribution to the success of the project. Lessons learned.
Weight:10%Mark (max 100):???Weight × Mark =???
(c)Performance and Problem Solving 
Selection of appropriate scientific techniques and their application to the solution of the problem. Team has gathered, evaluated and analysed information in order to devise and apply a creative and practical method to solve the problem making effective use of the time and resources available. The investigation has been conducted in a systematic way consistent with the project plan. The project plan was adapted as new information became available.
Weight:45%Mark (max 100):???Weight × Mark =???
(d)Quality and Usability 
Quality and level of material, scientific and literary accuracy of the text, diagrams and formulae. Investigations and results presented in a systematic manner that instils confidence in their reliability. Conclusions are evidence-based and clearly presented. References given in a standard form.
Weight:35%Mark (max 100):???Weight × Mark =???
 Comments and Feedback 
 
Date:Assessor:Overall Mark:???
The Presentation

The overall mark for this assessment (out of maximum 100) relates to the weighted average of the following four aspects each of which is marked out of 100 using the Group-Work Marking Scale below:

Ref.AspectTotals
(a)Key Aspects 
Exposition of topic and aims of project; conclusions; audibility and legibility of presentation; keeping to time.
Weight:25%Mark (max 100):???Weight × Mark =???
(a)Interaction with Audience 
Tactics for involving audience, making the presentation interesting; appropriateness of level for audience.
Weight:25%Mark (max 100):???Weight × Mark =???
(a)Technique 
Logical structure of the presentation; display of data, etc., to emphasise important points.
Weight:25%Mark (max 100):???Weight × Mark =???
(a)Handling Questions 
Understanding questions and responding appropriately.
Weight:25%Mark (max 100):???Weight × Mark =???
 Comments and Feedback 
 
Date:Assessor:Overall Mark:???
Group-Work Marking Scale
Mark RangeGroup Work Marking Criteria
(Marks are given to reflect performance for each aspect listed above)
86 - 100At the standard expected for a polished professional team, perhaps with one or two minor deficiencies.
70 - 85Outcome at excellent level. Could reach the standard above if several minor deficiencies were attended to.
60 - 69Outcome at focal level. Generally good level of knowledge or ability, with only one or two significant deficiencies.
50 - 59No major flaws, but a number of significant deficiencies. Showing acceptable levels of basic knowledge or ability.
40 - 49Outcome at threshold level. Only one or two major flaws. Lacking effectiveness in some aspects.
20 - 39A number of major flaws. Evidence of a lack of basic knowledge or ability.
0 - 19Nothing approaching an acceptable performance.
Peer Evaluation of Individual Contributions to Report and Project

The formal report assessment element of:

comprises a single jointly authored report.

The purpose of this process is to use Sharp's Method allow each member of the group to assess the contribution of the others to the final report in the following manner:

  1. Remind yourself of the headings and weightings used to assess the group report:
  2. Consider the extent to which each of the member of your group:
  3. Evaluate the contribution and performance of each member of the group using the Peer Evaluation of Group-Work Marking Scale below. Your scores, if they are consistent with those given by the other members of the team may affect the mark awarded to the individuals concerned.
  4. Please also evaluate your own performance using the same criteria. Note that this mark will not be used to influence any marks, but it may be used in an anonymised form for analysis of the behaviour of students undertaking self- and peer-evaluation.
  5. Email your evaluation to the module leader.
Peer Evaluation of Group-Work Marking Scale
Mark RangePeer Evaluation of Group Work Marking
86 - 100Contributions at the standard expected for an experienced professional, perhaps with one or two minor deficiencies.
70 - 85Outcome at excellent level. Could reach the standard above if several minor deficiencies were attended to.
60 - 69Outcome at focal level. Generally good level of participation and ability, with only one or two significant deficiencies.
50 - 59No major flaws, but a number of significant deficiencies. Showing acceptable levels of participation and ability.
40 - 49Outcome at threshold level. Only one or two major flaws. Lacking effectiveness in some aspects.
20 - 39A number of major flaws. Evidence of a lack of willingness and/or ability.
0 - 19Nothing approaching an acceptable performance.

See also: Peer and Self Assessment in Student Work

Acknowledgement

Development of this module has benefitted from the support of the National HE-STEM Programme and the Institute of Physics. We are indebted to Dr P. Chadwick of University of Durham, Department of Physics who has shared Durham's experience of Team Projects with us.

See also: Group-Work and Assessment


University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)