Are the days of end-of-study projects as we know them numbered?


End-of-study projects (TFE) are a fundamental part of the educational system in higher education that marks the end (or end) of the student’s passage through the university. However, they also place a considerable workload on teachers. Corrections, meetings and paperwork that add to all the other tasks we do each academic year.

For some it is a mere procedure towards a university degree, the reality is that these jobs can be very useful. Through them, we can discover which are the most relevant topics in the different areas of knowledge.

Always the same history?

A few years ago, ANECA recommended separating the end-of-study projects from the practicums (the design and organization of the practices of future teachers) and from the programming. However, a high percentage of jobs continue to be dedicated to these tasks.

Added to this, the themes do not seem to be too new either. In a recent longitudinal study we have analyzed more than 600 master’s thesis (TFM). Specifically, these are projects belonging to the English specialty of the Master’s Degree in Teacher Training for Compulsory Secondary Education and Baccalaureate, Vocational Training and Language Teaching.

Among the most prominent topics in the field of the English language, we find a topic that will be familiar to all of us: culture in English-speaking countries, which covers almost 25% of the documents reviewed. Added to this cultural aspect are English skills, whether oral or written, comprehension or expression. Up to this point, it could be said that the two most outstanding themes remind us a lot of times gone by.

Despite what has been commented so far, the novelty of the approach is found in the combination of these skills and the Anglo-Saxon culture with other educational areas. Particularly, they are intertwined with active methodologies and the use of digital tools. . Relying, on numerous occasions, on an inclusive framework that highlights the importance of attention to diversity.

In short, we could end up questioning whether the themes of the TFM are sufficiently updated or if, on the contrary, as is the case with many of those that have been analyzed, the same themes continue to be discussed.

Other aspects that could be improved

Be that as it may, reflecting on the data obtained, it would be very interesting to be able to compare the themes found in the English specialty with those of other areas of the master’s degree. These data could even be contrasted with those obtained for the final degree projects in the educational branch, whether for early childhood or primary school.

In the same way, it would be very relevant to know the point of view of teachers from other educational stages and not only of the directors of the master’s degrees. Thus, it would be assessed what type of work is most useful for people who are about to join the classrooms.

Likewise, it would be essential to know first-hand what policies each university has regarding the existence, or not, of public repositories: what criteria is used for this? Are all works uploaded or only the most notable ones?

From here, we want to send a message in favor of open publication, which would allow studies of this type to be carried out and to be able to verify, first-hand, the areas of interest that motivate our students.

The end of the ‘traditional’ TFE?

Currently, co-directed work or group work is beginning to gain prominence. These are very interesting proposals that can activate other types of essential skills.

The increasing availability of generative artificial intelligence tools, such as ChatGPT , is generating heated debates in academic circles. Among them, the possibility is being considered that students use these technologies to write not only assignments, but also their TFE.

This could mean a change in the rules of the game, both in reference to the very nature of these jobs, and in relation to the skills that students would develop through them. Furthermore, this type of technology can be a great ally for accessibility and equal opportunities in higher education.

In summary, the influence of technology and AI tools on the writing of TFE is a topic that deserves further consideration and raises fundamental questions about the future of these works, both academically and ethically. It is very possible that, like the classes, the final projects of study as we have known them until now will soon remain a vague memory.

Author Bios: Ingrid Mosquera Gende is a Hired Professor Doctor. Informal learning, educational technology and online education and Alexandra Santamaría Urbieta is a Senior lecturer both at UNIR – International University of La Rioja