Blended e-learning skeleton of conversation: Improving formative assessment in undergraduate dissertation supervision


Dr Aleksej Heinze, Salford Business School, University of Salford, Maxwell Building, 511b, Salford, Greater Manchester, UK. Email:


The supervision of undergraduate student dissertations is an area in need of research. Although some studies have already addressed this, these are primarily based on academic staff responses.

This study contributes to knowledge by gathering the responses of students and focusing on formative electronic assessment. Data was collected using a student focus group and student questionnaire.

Unsurprisingly, the findings suggest that good supervisor–student communication is crucial to the supervision process and a number of students felt unhappy with this aspect. However, to facilitate this communication, the perceived absolute necessity of regular supervisor–student meetings is being questioned and a combination of technology-enabled communication is advocated. It is suggested that to improve the undergraduate student dissertation experience, a combination of face-to-face and electronic formative assessment is used. In addition, the blended e-learning skeleton of conversation model provides a sound theoretical framework that could guide supervisors and students in the supervision process. This model is advocated for use in dissertation module design and in supervisor development.