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Surveys for Enhancement Conference 2010

Page history last edited by Andrew Poyer 13 years, 1 month ago
  • Date: 18 May 2010
  • Location/venue: The National College for School Leadership Triumph Road Nottingham Nottinghamshire , England, NG8 1DH


This conference brought together findings from three major student experience surveys:

  • The National Student Survey (NSS).
  • The Academy’s Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES).
  • The Academy’s Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES)


The conference explored the implications for enhancement of learning and teaching policy and practice. The event brought together a broad range of people interested in using student experience data to enhance policy and practice, including senior management with strategic learning & teaching roles, educational developers and lecturers at the chalk face.


This page contains the programme for the day (with links to presentations and abstracts), as well as some useful links and resources.


There is a document containing abstracts for all of the parallel sessions.




09:30 – 10:30         Registration


10:30 – 11:00          Welcome and Keynote: "Mining NSS data for enhancement"

  •  Professor Mantz Yorke


11:10 – 12:10           Parallel Session’s 1 – 4


1 - "The NSS and international students" - Dr Janette Ryan & Dr Inna Pomorina

This session presents the findings of an analysis of NSS scores for international students. It then explores the implications of the findings for the teaching of international students in UK Higher Education.


2 - "NUS and NSS" - Victoria Passant & Ant Bagshaw

This session explores the student perspective on the National Student Survey results and provides a forum for a discussion on how to engage students with the enhancement of their experience.


3 - "The review of TQI/NSS" – Rachael Tooth

This session provides an opportunity to learn more about the current review of Teaching Quality Information and the National Student Survey being undertaken by HEFCE.


4 - "PTES top line results and using PTES for enhancement" – Dr Pam Wells and Dr Tania Kinane 

This session firstly presents the interim results from the 2010 Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey. An institutional strategy to responding to the results of the PTES survey is then be presented.


12:10 – 13:10           Lunch


13:10 – 14:10           Parallel Sessions 5 – 8


5 - "Using the NSS and internal surveys for institutional enhancement" - Catherine Rendell & Abbi Flint

This session provides information about how the University of Hertfordshire has improved its NSS scores through a programme of enhancement activities. Discussion is facilitated to help delegates explore how these strategies could be applied to their own context. The session also describes how Sheffield Hallam University has trialled a new approach to their internal student survey; shifting the focus from student satisfaction to active student engagement with their learning experience.


6 - "NUS and the postgraduate student experience" - Dr Debbie McVitty

This session explores the postgraduate student experience in the light of the Smith review of postgraduate provision and the results of the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey and the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey.


7 - Using the NSS for discipline based enhancement – Dr Carolyn Bew

This session builds on the keynote by Professor Mantz Yorke by presenting the work that the Art, Design and Media subject centre have done to support institutions with enhancement activities relating to their NSS scores. There is a discussion about how this strategy can be applied within other disciplinary contexts.


8 - PRES overview results and using PRES for enhancement – Dr Laura Hodsdon & Penny Dowdney

This session provides an opportunity to reflect on the first three years of the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey, run in 2007, 2008 and 2009. There is also an example presented demonstrating how the University of Bangor worked with the data to improve the experience of their postgraduates.


14:10 – 14:35           Refreshment Break


14:35 – 15:30           How to get from the survey to the enhancement 

  • Panel Session with Q&A

Chair – Professor Mantz Yorke

Panel members - Dr Debbie McVitty, Dr Carolyn Bew, Rachel Segal, Dr Daniel Colegate






Data is available from two key sources:



This is the site that is designed for prospective students and other members of the public to access. You can either use their search tool or there is a link at the bottom of the page that allows you to download various spreadsheets.



As owners and administrators of the survey, HEFCE have detailed information on their website. There is a main NSS page, containing various resources, as well as a page containing links to the raw data. The data available varies for different years.


Research papers

These are some key pieces of research, in three key areas. (Please note, some of these require subscription access)


Data analysis


"National Student Survey of teaching in UK universities: Dimensionality, multilevel structure, and differentiation at the level of university and discipline: preliminary results"

This is a piece of work by Herb Marsh and Jacqueline Cheng from 2008. It is a very rich source of analysis of the NSS data, especially regarding the relative effects on student satisfaction of various factors such as institution and discipline.


"The National Student Survey three years on: What have we learned"

This Academy-funded report by Paula Surridge from 2009 brings together some key pieces of research (including the Marsh and Cheng article above) to give an overview of past findings and areas of future work. It is a very useful general guide to the NSS data, especially regarding what it does and does not tell us. There is also an EvidenceNet summary of this report, for those wishing to learn about the key points.


Survey research


"Why we shouldn't use student surveys of teaching as satisfaction ratings"

This very short paper was written by Mike Prosser in 2005 when he was Director of Research and Evaluation at the Academy. It lays out his view that using the NSS to formulate league tables may hinder its use as a tool for improving student learning experiences.


"The National Student Survey: development, findings and implications"

This article from 2007 is by John Richardson, John Slater and Jane Wilson. It describes the history of the NSS, by discussing the mechanisms and findings of the two pilot surveys that took place in 2003 and 2004.


"Student experience surveys: some methodological considerations and an empirical investigation"

This 2009 article by Mantz Yorke looks as issues around the design and administration of sector-wide student surveys, giving grounds for both "comfort and discomfort".


"Student feedback: a report to the Higher Education Funding Council for England"

This is an editorial from 2001 laying out Lee Harvey's views on the collection and use of student feedback. It includes discussion of the issue at institutional, faculty, programme and module level.


"Fitness for purpose? National and institutional approaches to publicising the student voice"

This is an article from 2007 by James Williams and Gill Cappuccini-Ansfield which compares the strengths and weaknesses of nation-wide surveys and more tailor-made institutional surveys. It focuses on the value of student engagement with surveys.


Enhancement work


"Closing the feedback loop: ensuring effective action from student feedback"

This 2003 paper by Sarah Watson explores the different ways universities feed information back to students regarding quality enhancement work that has taken place.


"Preparing for success: one institution's aspirational and student focused response to the National Student Survey"

This is an article from 2009 describing work carried out at Sheffield Hallam University regarding the involvement of students in the process of using NSS data for quality enhancement purposes. Various activities are described, including an event to allow academics to hear student perspectives in detail, and the publication of a "You Said, We Did..." document to inform students of the changes that had resulted from their feedback.


Case studies







EvidenceNet is the Academy's service to promote and support the use of evidence in higher education, and is the parent site for this Wiki. It contains a variety of material relevant to the NSS, including research papers, case studies, events and networks (for instance, the resources linked from this page are housed on EvidenceNet). If you require resources beyond those that are linked on this page, please visit EvidenceNet for further exploration of the NSS, or of other national surveys.


EvidenceNet is also a place to submit material of your own. We hope that as you undertake enhancement work, you consider writing a short case study using the case study submission form


Surveys for Enhancement 2011 - Page containing the material from the HEA Surveys for Enhancement Conference held in May 2011, including the programme, the abstracts and a selection of presentations.




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