Reading Student Survey Results
The Reading Student Survey was divided in to seven benchmarks. An overall indicator for each benchmark was developed by bringing together a number of the survey questions. The analysis was conducted at University level, at Faculty level and at Unit level. Where sufficient responses were obtained these were further broken down by year of study. The benchmarks are:
Level of Academic Challenge
Challenging intellectual and creative work is central to a quality learning experience. Ideally we encourage high levels of student achievement through promoting the importance of academic endeavour and setting high expectations for student performance.
The data shows that students perception of their level of challenge gradually rises as they progress through their degree programme. In a sense this may not appear to be surprising. However educationally perhaps all students should be being stretched throughout their time at University, and this might indicate that we could push and expect more from Part 1 and Part 2 students.
Active and Collaborative Learning
Students learn more when they are intensely involved in their education and are asked to think about and apply what they are learning in different settings. Collaborating with others in solving problems, or mastering difficult material, prepares students to deal with the messy, unscripted problems they will encounter daily during and after University.
Team working and collaboration amongst students is seen to grow as students progress, though the Foundation programmes have a far higher rate of 'active learning' than other programmes. The strength of the Foundation programmes may be a consequence of them having been designed relatively recently from first principles, as opposed to many of our other programmes which have been continually adapted over the years, and where Part 1 can occasionally be very didactic rather than participatory.
Student Interaction with Academics
Interaction with academics is a fundamental aspect in the student identifying themselves with their discipline (becoming a member of a 'community of practice'); much of this is done by observing and interacting with academics. Feedback from assignments is one of the key ways in which this takes place.
Again the Foundation programmes show themselves to be very successful in this respect. Part 1 in many instances is characterised by low levels of interaction with academics. This runs counter to educational research which highlights the importance of a high-impact activity in Part 1 involving sustained effort and strong interaction with academics.
Social Inclusion and Internationalisation
Experiencing diversity teaches students valuable things about themselves and other people's points of view. Many activities can broaden student interaction with diverse communities or perspectives. Some are within the context of a degree programme, but many may also be from opportunities within the broader student life.
This measure has a high degree of variability around the University; different degree programmes attract very diverse students. Variety is naturally greatest where there is a strong international presence such as within the International Foundation Programme and some taught Masters courses.
Engagement with E-Learning
Used appropriately, technology facilitates learning and promotes collaboration between peers and instructors. Students will generally be using IT both socially and within the context of degree programmes. Mapping congruence and disparity between personal and degree experience will be worth capturing.
This benchmark measures both academic IT literacy and also innovation within E-Learning. Within the survey data there is little differentiation between years in the undergraduate programmes, which might be read as showing that students do not become more academically literate as they progress in their studies. Masters students perform moderately better.
Supportive Campus Environment
Students perform better and are more satisfied at Universities that are committed to their success, and that cultivate positive working and social relations among different groups on campus.
Whereas most of the benchmarks show increasing engagement as students progress through their programmes, this is not the case for perception about a 'supportive campus environment'. These questions draw on a number of factors, some subject specific and some campus wide. The diversity of students resident in Halls may explain why Part 1 students score this highly. Masters students feel themselves to be a little more isolated.
Career Planning and Employability
Students entering graduate-level jobs is the key rationale behind government investment in Higher Education. Developing students' confidence and preparedness for this, whatever their first degree, is one of our principal obligations. It can also focus the mind of students on the purpose of their own education.
Unsurprisingly we see a growing engagement with this benchmark as students go through their undergraduate programmes, and both Finalists and Masters students are equally engaged as they are about to progress on to the world of work or further study. Degree programmes with a clear vocational potential naturally come out with stronger results than others.