MAASTRICHT. The phenomenon of the third supervisor, who now springs into action when the final thesis of a bachelor’s student from Arts and Culture (Dutch and English track) scores a 6 or 6.5, will disappear. The faculty board of Arts and Social Sciences decided so.
The third reader was introduced to put an end to the so-called ‘genadezesjes’. These mercy sixes or substandard theses, were a reason for quality watchdog NVAO to issue yellow cards for six FASoS programmes (bachelor’s and master’s) at the end of 2013.
The faculty took a number of measures within the framework of the restoration process (meanwhile completed, all programmes have been approved again): for example, more training of student’s writing skills, a methodology workshop was set up for staff members, and in addition to the thesis supervisor, a second lecturer is appointed to assess the thesis first. This was to prevent the grade being influenced by a degree of understanding for the writing process. On top of this, it was proposed to appoint a third reader if the final grade is no higher than 6.5. That last measure has now been abolished again. The third assessor will only come into play if the first two cannot agree.
The third reader certainly contributed towards solving the problem of ‘mercy sixes’, writes Jessica Mesman, spokesperson for education in the faculty board, in a memo to the faculty council. But at a ‘cost’: not only had the third reader a demotivating effect on the first assessors (their 6 or 6.5 was implicitly mistrusted), it also caused less confidence in one’s own capabilities. Mesman: “Many staff members experience this procedure as a personal assessment instead of a thesis assessment and have lost their confidence in their own grading capacities.” It is also an expensive system. Mesman has complete faith in the fact that with these adaptations the level of final theses will remain good.
Abolishing the third reader for the master’s has not yet come up, Mesman replied when asked. “But the subject is certainly on my agenda.” There is no third reader at the bachelor’s of European Studies, so this is not an issue there.