IATL received an award of £2000 from the Higher Education Academy to analyse the results of the 2011 survey. Paul Taylor, IATL's Director at the time, Jere Koskela and Gary Lee, MORSE undergraduates, crunched the numbers and studied their relationship to the results of the most recent National Student Survey to explore the correlation between students' satisfaction and their engagement with their University. The aim was to learn how we can improve the student experience at Warwick.
There are two principal methodologies in current use in the English-speaking world to collect quantitative data on students' feelings about Universities. Student Satisfaction Surveys, notably the National Student Survey (NSS), are widely used in the UK. The alternatives are Surveys of Student Engagement, principally the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) in North America and the Australian Universities Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE) employed in Australia and New Zealand.
Unfortunately, we can't discern pedagogic practice from the NSS results. By contrast, the NSSE was designed to emphasise the important link between effective educational practices and collegiate quality' (Kuh, 2001) and it might therefore be expected to be better suited to exploring disciplinary pedagogies.
Surridge (Surridge 2009) notes that one of the great successes of the NSS has been the sector-wide observations one can make on the 'complexity of differences according to ethnic group'. This leads in turn to questions about how students are engaged with their institution. With our interest in critical, student-engaged pedagogies we were drawn to Surveys of Student Engagement (SSEs). We believed that the more fine-grained, pedagocially based survey questions would allow us to probe the interesting variations between disciplines observed in the NSS and identify good practice. Furthermore, we believed there would be interesting comparisons to be made between the experiences of UK students and their counterparts in North America and Australia/New Zealand, in an international 'benchmarking' exercise. These studies could be done using data from just one University.
Finally, since one other English University has piloted a SSE, we had the opportunity to investigate in a limited way whether a UK variant of the SSE, which we dub SSEUK, would make useful distinctions between UK institutions.
Kuh, G. (2001), 'Assessing what really matters to student learning: inside the National Survey of Student Engagement', Change, 33(3), 10-17.
Surridge, P. (2009), 'The National Student Survey three years on: What have we learned?' HEA.