Learning goals in PhD education: How can their usefulness be improved?


  • A. Månberger


Assessment, Evaluation, Learning goals, PhD education


The Swedish higher education ordinance define ten learning goals that all Swedish PhD students must fulfil to graduate. This study analyse what students at one department within the technical faculty (LTH) have reported for the different learning goals in their individual study plans and how the department works with the goals.

This study finds that the learning goals are currently used more as a summative evaluation framework for documentation in retrospect rather than as a formative tool for stimulating learning and progression.

The most common activities reported by students are related to course work and their thesis. Existing examination already takes place for these activities. Activities not part of formal examination receives less attention. It is unclear if and how students should prioritise such tasks and what support their supervisors should offer.

Points raised in this study can be useful to include in the mid-term evaluation that is nowadays mandatory at LTH. LTH could facilitate this process by developing guidelines and spreading examples of how to work with, and evaluate, learning goal progression.