|Department||Department of Geography, Lancaster University, LA1 4YB|
|Tel.||+44 (0)1524 593740|
|Fax||+44 (0)1524 847099|
Initiated through the Government-funded Enterprise in Higher Education (EHE) scheme, the 'enterprise dissertation' is a voluntary variation on the more traditional style of final year project, in that it requires students to establish a research contract with an external 'client' organisation.
Successful links have been made with planners, voluntary bodies and conservation groups, who often appreciate of the value of research and are able to identify topics of use to them and feasible for a student.
An unresolved issue is the balance between process and product. The traditional dissertation is assessed in terms of the quality of the product, yet a part of the intent of EHE is to provide an alternative process of working for a degree through the development of skills acquired from the world of work. Clients have not always felt able to comment on the students and the quality of the dissertation, whereas others have given comments which were vague, uncritical and did not get to the heart of the student's learning experience with them. Therefore, traditional marking criteria have been applied to the enterprise dissertation, although client's input and their report on the students are taken into account. Consequently, progress in self-confidence and knowledge of the organisation or other skills have not been assessed, except indirectly where the written work had improved by the contact with the client.
The existence of the enterprise dissertation has been welcomed by the students (even those who didn't do it), and those students who completed the exercise commented favourably on the experience. Overall the enterprise dissertation has been a modest success, providing a few students with a different type of dissertation in terms of both learning experience and better research.