The fast-paced growth and development of information and communication technology (ICT) has brought substantial changes to the mindsets, workflows and lifestyle of society. one of the fields most impacted by this progress is education. Not only has ICT become one of the most attractive fields of study in tertiary education, but its influence and use within the educational institutions has become indispensable. Both academic and administrative processes have been renewed and realigned by ICT implementations, shifting the conventional paper-based operations and data storage to online systems and databases (Callista, 2010).
The Information and Media Technology Department at Federal University of Technology Minna, School of Information and Communication Technology is one of the departments that strive to stay on the leading edge of ICT implementations and integrations to improve not only its academic performance but also its administrative efficiency. One of the regular yet administration-intensive processes that occur within this department is the procedure for students’ final year projects. This process begins with students’ proposals of project topics which must be approved by supervising lecturers and ends after grades are given by supervising lecturers and external examiners (Callista, 2010)
Grading in Education is the process of applying standardized measurements of varying levels of achievements in a course. Likewise, it is the approach that educators use to evaluate and document the academic proficiency of students. Grades can be assigned as letters (generally A through F), hence a grading system plays a vital role in the management system of any institution. A computerized grading system that also stores students’ data is a highly desirable addition to the educational sector, particularly when it can provide less effort and a more effective and timely way of managing student data (Barreno,Lapaut,Arevalo & Emmanuel, 2009). Every student desires to achieve an excellent grade in their final year project. As such the whole process becomes very tedious for the supervisors in order to make their evaluation fair, comprehensive, and accurate. The primary purpose of student grading system is to support and improve students’ learning Barreno et al. (2009).
Undergraduate research is the exploration of a specific topic within a field by an undergraduate student that makes an original contribution to the discipline. The research approach differs depending on the course of study and the focus of the degree to be awarded at the end of the academic program. It is clear that undergraduate research, by any definition, is beneficial. For students, the opportunity to define a problem and work toward a solution that might have practical, real-life applications constitutes significant value (Beckman & Hensel, 2009). Students are more likely to engage actively in the total learning process when their curiosity is stimulated by the research question. Solving research problems can help students to organize their thinking, develop more creative thinking, and gain confidence in their own intellectual abilities (Beckman & Hensel, 2009).
Undergraduate research can encourage students to continue their education beyond the baccalaureate degree, make them more competitive for graduate programs, and prepare them for success in graduate school. Opportunities for presenting the results of student research can lead to improvement in their oral and written communications skills. Undergraduate research may be either collaborative or individual, therefore fostering both collaborative and independent skills. Researchers learn to handle ambiguity, to accept the fact that the research project doesn’t always work out as expected. And perhaps most importantly, undergraduates will develop the habit of asking “what if” and “why not” questions that can lead to new discoveries or new ways of improving the practice of their careers (Beckman & Hensel, 2009).
The benefits of undergraduate research extend beyond the student. Undergraduates can be valuable members of research teams. They can bring fresh perspectives, insights, and energy to investigations (Beckman & Hensel, 2009). Undergraduate research is important to a variety of disciplines because it helps to pass on the torch of investigative research to future generations, it ignites passions and quests for new knowledge within the university age population. Undergraduate research benefits students, faculty members, and institutions as a whole. Undergraduate research is often required for acceptance into graduate and professional schools (Beckman & Hensel, 2009).
The final year project is the culmination of the degree program, it gives students a chance to demonstrate all they have learned. Although students are supervised, the responsibility is on the student to define the problem boundaries, to investigate possible solutions, and to present the results in writing. For assessment, students submit reports of their progress and final results, and give in person presentations and demonstrations of their work.
According to (Kerrins & Cushing, 2001) there are three set of bodies that constitute the assessment of the final year project, they are
i. Project supervisor assigned to a student. The supervisor will grade the student based on some of the following criteria; time/appointment and record keeping, intellectual input, student initiative, communication skills, organization and planning, understanding of project objectives and efforts. The supervisor is also in charge of grading the chapters of the write up by the student. The grade awarded the supervisor makes up 45% of the student total grade.
ii. The external assessor which is foreign to the university or department also grades the student. After the overall grade of the student has been computed, the external supervisor or assessor goes through the students work, discusses the student's accomplishments with the project supervisor after the formal presentation, then moderates or scrutinizes the grade given. The grade assigned by the external assessor is the final and ultimate grade of the student. The assessor grades based on the following; logical structure and clarity of writing, results, understanding and analysis, production standards and scientific conventions.
iii. Panel of assessors are internal to the university or department. They grade students during the oral presentation. They assess the student’s ability to communicate the technical content of his/her work. They grade based on organization and structure, delivery and use of visual aids.
The assessment is made up of different stages, which at the end of the whole process the score derived from these various stages will be combined to make up the final grade of the student. The process begins with
i. Proposal Defense: The student will perform exhaustive literature, patent and personal contact searches as well as brains-storming sessions in order to understand, define objectives, and properly size the scope of work. The proposal should contain a complete description of the problem statement, critical literature review and it should demonstrate a good grasp of your project and prove that your proposed solution is likely to meet specification or requirements. A formal presentation will be held with project supervisors to defend this proposal. They would determine if ones’ topic is feasible i.e. It can be implemented. Once it’s been decided they will give the project student the go ahead or approval to start working on the project topic.
ii. Project Report/Write-up: This phase is where the student will submit write up of his or her project work to the assigned supervisor. It will be submitted in chapters (1-5). The supervisor will go through the write up, make corrections and then grade. Based on the supervisors input on the report, adjustment will be made by student to project actions to make sure he or she is on the correct path and pace. The project report will in general be graded according to five general assessment outcomes and are, organization of the work, content, relevance, writing style and grammar, presentation of material using visual aids such as graphs or diagrams. Along with the report the implementation of the project work will submitted to the supervisor for assessment. It will be submitted in modules. The project implementation will be graded according to four general assessment outcomes which are; formulation of design problems, problem solving skills, extension of knowledge, project management. Demonstration of how the system being developed will function is shown to the supervisor by the student.
iii. Oral Presentation: oral presentations are considered as an important part of the final year project assessment because of the importance placed on communications skills both in industry and academia. The student will orally present the fruit of his or her final year project labor at a department scheduled formal presentation session. Oral presentation by student will be graded by all assessors present except the supervisor of the presenter. The project presentation is assessed in general both on content and delivery to ensure that the student is able to communicate project work done is of a standard worthy of an honors degree. The project presentation will be graded according to five specific assessment outcomes and are appearance and composure of student, quality of slides used for the presentation, literature reviewed, methodology, recommendation and conclusion and mastery of code/subject area.
The project tests students' ability to:
1. Design, and evaluate quality systems
2. Research their chosen subject area
3. Make good decisions
4. Overcome unforeseen problems
5. Work within constraints of limited resources
6. Work to a professional code of conduct
7. Communicate technical concepts both orally and in writing.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Currently, all project data and grades given are recorded on paper-based forms saved in student’s individual folder. Such data storage and processing causes delay when trying to search retrieve and analyze students’ final year project data. Therefore, the department of Information and Media Technology requires a centralized way of processing grades and data for final year students. The proponents of this study wish to reduce the workload of supervisors by eliminating the need for manual computation and recording of grades. The common problems encountered in manual recording and computations are error in file handling and redundancy. Possibility of repeating project topics without detection by a project supervisor
Records of project topics carried out by a student are stored in the departmental library for a long time which occupies valuable office space. Difficulty in searching for project topics already done
1.3 Aim and objectives of study
The aim of this study is to design and implement an information system to support final year project assessment and management of the project after completion
To achieve this aim, the following objectives are carried out:
1. To analyze existing form of grading of final year student project in the Department of Information and Media Technology.
2. To design a computerised grading and storing system for Department of Information and Media Technology.
3. To implement the system for the Department of Information and Media Technology.
4. To evaluate the system based on comparison with existing system
1.4 Justification of the study
The implication of this study is to move from manual documentation of projects to electronic documentation for easy retrieval, storage, accuracy and security. The main purpose of the project is to build an integrated student information system to facilitate easy access of records of students in the Department. This research intends to develop a information management system to store and manage students’ final year project data and grades. To make sure that the data is accessible at all times, it developed as an online system. The proposed system is also intended to allow students to view their results online.
1.5 Scope of the Study
This study was carried out using the Information and Media Technology Department of Federal University of Technology, Minna as a case study. So every data used is limited to this department.
1.6 Limitations to Study
During the course of this study, many things militated against its completion, some of which are:
· Inadequate academic materials on grading/assessment of final year project.
· Provided with limited data for the study.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
i. ICT: Information and Communication Technology. It shows the importance of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications, computers as well as necessary software, middleware, storage and audio-visual systems which enable users to access, store, transmit and manipulate information.
ii. Computerized: To use a computer to do something that was done by people or other machines before.
iii. System: Set of computer equipment and programs used together for a particular purpose.
iv. Grading: The process of judging the quality of a product, substance, or organization, or the performance of a student.
v. FYP: Final Year Project. This is the project work that the students in final lap of their studies in the university undertake to demonstrate all that they have learned. It signifies the culmination of the degree program.
vi. DBMS: Database Management System. It is a software for creating and managing databases. It provides uses and programmers with a systematic way to create, retrieve, update and manage data.
vii. Manual: A set of activities done by hands.
viii. Centralized: Controlled by one main system.
ix. Automation: Replacement of human workers by technology.
x. Computations: The use of a computer for calculation.
xi. Retrieve: To get a piece of information back to save it from being lost, destroyed or damaged.
xii. Redundancy: This is duplication of components.
xiii. Online system: Controlled by or connected to a computer, it is an activity or service which is available on or performed using the Internet or other computer network.
xiv. Processing: The use of computers to collect, store, organize, and use information.