ECADOC Summer Schools are hosted by universities that belong to the ECADOC network. ECADOC is governed by a Scientific Committee, the members of which are jointly elected by the Executive Board of the ESVDC and the NICE Foundation’s Board of Directors. The Scientific Committee is responsible for the selection of hosts for the summer schools and the overall quality management of all ECADOC learning events.
The following quality management instruments are employed to assure and enhance the quality of ECADOC Summer Schools:
Selection of participants: We only admit people to ECADOC summer schools as participants, who are currently working on a PhD related to career guidance and counselling. No exceptions are allowed, so to ensure the common goals, status and interests of the group in this respect. To assess the relevance of the research projects, our selection committee reviews a 1-page description of the PhD research project from each participant. Our selection criteria demand a broad national diversity of the participants, and we try to offer financial support in cases, where applicants wouldn’t be able to cover their costs for the summer school themselves or through their universities. We accept no more than 28 participants, to assure a good group size for networking and community building. Each member of the selection committee evaluates the applications of all applicants, who haven’t been selected by ECADOC partners, so to enable fair, criteria-based judgments when there are too many suitable applicants (which has generally been the case so far).
Understanding the participants’ interests and preferences: At each summer school, we ask participants for wishes and recommendations for future summer schools via a joint Delphi evaluation at the end of the summer school, and a quantitative evaluation several weeks after the summer school. The Delhi evaluation allows each participant to stress positive aspects and points for improvement, which can then be endorsed by all other participants (so to see, how many people share the assessments). The quantitative survey then asks for feedback to standardised questions (e.g. quality of each workshop, distribution of time to different activities). Participants are also asked to specify, which kinds of workshops, contents, and activities they would enjoy in the future, allowing them to formulate their personal interests and preferences freely.
Peer review of summer school: The scientific committee puts together the summer school’s programme, under the leadership of the summer school’s host. Once a first draft is ready, we collect feedback from the community of all ECADOC partners, i.e., the senior academics who jointly support the programme.
We try to implement as many proposals as possible to enhance the programme. At the summer schools, we invite a colleague with a lot of experience in the supervision of doctoral researchers to observe all activities of the summer schools and to speak with participants, so to provide us with critically-constructive feedback after the event. We ensure that our peer evaluators don’t have a conflict of interest in terms of evaluating their own work, but we believe it to be good that they are members of our academic community, who themselves want the summer schools to be excellent.
Preparatory activities expected from contributors: All contributors, particularly people offering workshops, methodological seminars, keynotes, and food for thought, are asked to provide an abstract. The scientific committee uses these abstracts to finalise the programme and to ask contributors for adjustments, if necessary. We expect workshops and seminars to dedicate at least half of the time to activities, which actively involve the participants, e.g., group discussions or exercises. Additionally, contributors are asked to provide literature for deepened learning, which is made available to participants via a Moodle platform. Contributors are also asked to constructively work with the diversity (age, academic disciplines, research paradigms, English-speaking competence) of the participants.
Preparatory activities expected from all participants: We are convinced that the participants’ preparation for the summer school activities is just as important for the quality and enjoyment of learning, as our own preparation. All participants are required to engage in preparatory activities, including the preparation of poster presentations of their research projects (beginning with the third summer school), and the preparation of a presentation for collective academic supervision. Collective academic supervision is the point of the summer school, where the participants work together in small groups of four doctoral researchers, moderated by senior academics, where each participant shares a challenge of her/his PhD project, and receives feedback from peers.
Scientific committee monitoring at the summer school: During the summer schools, at least one member of the scientific committee is always present, so to keep an eye on the process, and intervene, if necessary. The summer school’s host is relieved from any sorts of supervisory activities, to be able to focus on the management of the event. The members of the scientific committee regularly touch base to discuss the development of the summer school, and make changes to the programme, if necessary.
Community building: Developing a European research community is both a goal of our summer schools, and a means of quality assurance. We want our participants to enjoy a community spirit at the summer schools, including (but not limited to) a culture of mutual respect, openness to diversity, authenticity, and inclusiveness. At the beginning of the summer schools, we organise ice-breaking activities to evoke an ambiance, where everybody feels safe to speak with anyone else, seeking for commonalities, but also accepting differences (in line with Scott Peck’s approach to community building). As scientific committee members, we try to lead by example, and intervene, where necessary, to support a positive community-building process and the development of shared norms of fairness, respect, inclusiveness, scientific rigour, etc.
The ECADOC project was co-funded by the European Commission under the Lifelong Learning Programme from October 2013 to November 2016 (Project No. 539608-LLP-1-2013-1-IT-ERASMUS-EQR). The European Commission’s support for the ECADOC project does not constitute an endorsement of its achievements, contents, or professed opinions. These reflect the views of the project partners only, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use of these products.