University student satisfaction

The journal article was called ‘A 10-year case study on the changing determinants of university student satisfaction in the UK’. The article looked at the National Student Survey (NSS) results over a 10-year period from 2007 to 2016. The research had the following aims: to assess the NSS as a tool for measuring success; to see whether the NSS results helped students choosing a University; the best predictor of overall satisfaction; and to see whether student satisfaction had been affected by marketisation e.g. through increased student fees.

The article generated much discussion particularly around the factors that affect student satisfaction that universities have chosen to focus on, for example, assessment and feedback (even though this is not the best predictor of overall satisfaction). In addition, universities are continuingly reducing the number of professional services staff, who are essential for the smooth running of university programmes, as a way of being more efficient but they place huge value on NSS results.

The take home messages from the participants of the journal club at the end of the session were as follows:

  • the key thing to think about was the sense of identity and culture and what this is based on
  • the issues that they raise about value for money make me concerned about what people value about higher education.
  • the fact that teaching quality is rated as a higher marker of satisfaction – we need to remember that our teachers are critical to the student experience (it is basic stuff like being good at explaining things, making teaching interesting etc.)
  • need to consider what students want from us in a general way and having good communication – to make things as explicit as possible to give a sense of trust
  • teaching quality is more important than buildings
  • the importance of collecting valuable feedback – how to learn to phrase questions better
  • are there any small things we can do across all programmes to have a large effect on student satisfaction?
  • assessment and feedback is surprisingly a weak predictor of student satisfaction
  • feedback as a collaborative enterprise towards mutually agreed objectives to support someone’s progress after they have received this quality feedback
  • to increase overall satisfaction, universities were encouraged to concentrate on organisation and management – need to get feedback from students about what determines a ‘well designed programme’ and how to best ensure that these ‘run smoothly’

Continue the conversation through our Yammer Pedagogy Journal Club.