Online courses evaluation

In the Instagram evaluation of the recently introduced e-learning classes on Canvas and Zoom, the students were mostly positive about the change. Specifically, the good organization of the units and the increased exchange between lecturers and students was perceived as positive. The suitability of the Zoom tool for group work was also emphasized, which generally offers students a good substitute for classroom teaching. In addition, the majority of those surveyed expressed their thanks to the teachers, who reacted quickly and flexibly to the changed teaching situation.

Suggestions for improvement were made by the students regarding the use of zoom instead of canvas, as this is clearly superior to the "Conference Tool". Many were also skeptical about the permanent need to sit in front of the computer and the increased workload resulting from the more intensive sessions. The difficulty of being able to concentrate in front of the screen for a longer period of time was also highlighted. In addition, there is the wish to be able to download the videos, which would allow a freer division of the learning workload. With regard to the provision of services, students increasingly expressed the request to switch from written work (paper) to online examinations.

Asked about existing problems in e-learning, the students stated that there were no state law courses. Likewise, not all lecturers seem to be sufficiently familiar with e-learning systems and therefore do not use all tools (e.g., drawing function). Also, with regard to quality, according to the students' information, there seem to be regular malfunctions due to poor Internet connections, from which not least, the motivation of the audience suffers. Especially with the language subjects, some fear for the quality of the teaching, as it suffers from the existing format (pronunciation is difficult to practice). Furthermore, because some students are socially involved both voluntarily and obligatory (e.g., military service) due to the current situation, there is a need to make recordings available for more than 30 days.

The just presented results were presented by SHSG President Florian Wußmann on 27.03.20 in the meeting of the Corona Task Force. 

Thanks for your feedback!

Author: Lorenz Oberrauch, 02.04.2020

Course adjustments: "Fundamentals and Methods of Computer Science for Business Studies"

In the course of various feedbacks during the last year, the board member of representation of interests and studies from the student union met with the program management of the BBWL and the people responsible for the course "Fundamentals and Methods of Computer Science for Business Studies" to discuss the status quo of the course. After the ad-hoc introduction of an SHSG Computer Science Tutorial to support business students, the students wrote recommendations for action based on an evaluation among the participants, which we sent to the responsible persons. Three core problems, in particular, emerged:

  1. congruence of theoretical basics and weekly assignments: Many students stated that the material is not communicated clearly enough in the lectures and that there is no connection between the lectures and the assignments.
  2. excessive demands on the students: Students stated that more focus on the basics was desired; many intermediate steps essential for a successful learning process were simply skipped or assumed. In addition, the expectations were too high, especially in the assignments, which were far too complicated for an "introductory course"; the syllabus was based on an incorrect or too high level of knowledge of the students.
  3. SHSG Computer Science Tutorat as a supplementary offer: A tutorial like the one offered by the SHSG would be helpful. Furthermore, some students requested that the exercises and tutorials be held in small groups.

After receiving our recommendations for action, Prof. Dr. Simon Mayer contacted the student union again with the concrete implementations for FS20. These include the following points:

  • Tutorial design: In HS19, tutorials were responsible for introducing the new exercises, discussing the previous exercise, discussing other parts of the material, and the actual tutorial (= supporting the students in solving the tasks). We have now transferred as many of these elements as possible into the lecture so that there will be considerably more time in the tutorials in FS20 to respond to students' questions. In addition, we have increased the number of tutors to 32 people. Of these, 27 are assigned to specific rooms, and 5 others act as "jumpers" and will provide support where it is most needed. It is important that students take advantage of these offers.
  • Congruence theory/practice: The same measure would have to help in this matter, which we have also noticed. The exercises will now be presented and introduced as part of the lecture, so the reference will be much more visible, and at the same time, as described above, the tutorials will be relieved.
  • Excessive demands: The course will remain the most elaborate course for the students in FS20 - the program management of the BA-BWL has instructed us to make an effort appropriate to the 8 ECTS points. However, there are three changes that should lead to some relief: (1) We have redesigned the first two weeks and the first two exercises so that the learning curve is flatter at the beginning. (2) Will the discussion of the exercises in the lectures inevitably lead to a loss of content. (3) We have to focus on active expectation management because in HS19, many students were already left behind after a short time - many are not used to investing so much time in exercises during the semester. We have made it clear here that learning in this course does not take place by learning after the semester, but by "keeping up" with the practical exercises during the semester. This staying on is an investment - the exam in FCS is, in our opinion, very easy for students who have solved the exercises well (e.g., a lot of code comprehension which can only be learned through practical exercises).
  • Copying solutions and frustration: Especially from week five on, we saw high frustration in HS19 with very high exercise scores at the same time. Many students reported plagiarism or even ghostwriting of the exercises, which, of course, does not correspond to our idea of practical practice. Therefore, we (1) changed the grading scheme from 70:30 to 20:80 to take the pressure off the practical exercises and (2) the practical exercises are no longer graded directly, but graded quizzes are held during the semester according to the deadlines of the respective exercises in order to assess the learning progress. These measures should help to make the grading fairer by eliminating plagiarism; on the other hand, of course, this gives the students more self-responsibility: it is absolutely necessary to work on the exercises during the semester. Otherwise, the exam will not be passed! Even though the exercises (via the quizzes) only account for 20% of the final grade.

In order to assess the effectiveness of these measures, the student union continues to rely on student feedback so that the interest group can continue to exert influence in the future. For specific points, please contact:

Author: Alessandro Massaro, 30.03.2020

Mensa & theCube evaluation

Due to the new contract with Migros as the HSG caterer, they have adjusted their services. More and different menus have been introduced, and theCube has also been introduced for the fall semester 2019. For that, we received positive feedback from the general student community. To further improve the offer, we carried out an evaluation on our Instagram account, where students could give feedback. In addition to the positive feedback, there was also feedback on what can be improved or what is still missing. This was done for theCube and the Mensa in general.

A significant concern among the students was cheaper or better coffee. The price of hot water is also perceived to be overpriced, as is the price of soft drinks. Lactose-free or vegan milk is requested for the coffee, and Chai Latte and El Tony are also requested in the range. A demand for returnable coffee cups was also expressed. In the food sector, a desire for more vegan options has been expressed. These include vegan snacks, vegan sandwiches, more fruits, and generally more healthy menu alternatives. A more extensive choice for dinner is also desired. In the B-Mensa more choices are also requested, such as more bread and sandwiches. In addition, students feel that the food is too expensive. For the menu assortment, there were requests for Schnitzel & Pommes or Pizza and more salads. The food should also be packed with less plastic or in paper to use resources in a more environmentally friendly way.

At theCube, many students expressed the wish for more 0.5l drinks, because the range currently includes many 1l / 1.5l drinks, which can be unfavorable in certain cases. Besides, a wider range of drinks was requested, such as zero-calorie soft drinks, energy drinks, or a hot water dispenser. As far as food is concerned, a wider choice was also requested, such as more snacks (cottage cheese, Salt n Vinegar Chips, "Schoggistängeli") or more fresh fruits and vegetables, or that they are refilled more often. A wish was also expressed for finished products or warm-up products, as well as sandwiches, toast, bread, meat, bananas, and protein products. Menstrual products and office materials should also be included in the range.

Other improvements, which do not concern the product range, were also expressed — for example, longer opening hours and also more opening days. At the checkout, a scan function of the Cumulus card was suggested, and receipt printing only on request. Furthermore, it was noticed that the scanner often does not work properly.

These remarks were summarized and will be discussed at the next mensa commission meeting, which is on the 26th of March.

Author: Silvan Kneubühler, 18.02.2020

START Hackademy

This year's START Hackademy took place from 10th until the 14th of February 2020. START Hackademy is a week-long advanced coding program, which was co-organized by START Global and SHSG for the first time this year. During the Hackademy, participants work in groups to solve coding challenges related to technology and business topics. The week started with a refresher of key programming paradigms and an introduction to this year's coding challenges. Each coding challenge consisted of a conceptual overview of the three focal topics (Smart Cities, Health Tech, and Working World 4.0) and several data sets to kickstart the development process. Over the course of five days, the 25 participants worked in groups of three and developed a software solution that addresses a key challenge of their chosen topic. On the final day, each group presented their projects and demonstrated a prototype. We were particularly impressed with the student projects of the development of a software solution implementing machine learning for recognizing patterns in traffic accidents (Smart Cities case), and the development of an API which can be utilized to geolocate defibrillators in an urban environment (Health Tech case), as well as many other interesting solutions. The participants of this year's START Hackademy are well prepared for the START Hack taking place in March 2020 and extremely eager to compete for the main prize.

Author: Camillo Visini, 18.02.2020