Living up to expectations? The NSS and the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol.<br />Rich Harriswww.soc...
The marketing<br />The School of Geographical Sciences offers innovative degree programmes that give a professional educat...
NSS: the survey we love to loathe!<br />In 2009 the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, achieved a 100...
How did we do it?<br />Haven’t a clue!<br />But had spent a lot of time on the professionalisation of student-facing servi...
The only way is down<br />In 2010<br />Human and Social Geography (75%)<br />Or, 7 students were either neutral or negativ...
The Guardian University Rankings<br />Human geography<br />Ranked 4th for 2009/10<br />Ranked 3rd for 2010/11<br />Ranked ...
Overall: broadly rosy<br />
Achilles heel<br />
Which is a problem<br />
Student survey 2011<br />Survey of students in years 1 to 3 of their degrees in Geographical Sciences, University of Brist...
What did it reveal?<br />79% of students agree that the feedback they receive is useful to them with 15% neutral<br />This...
What did it reveal?<br />62% of students agree that lecturers are willing to meet and discuss a marked assessment<br />35%...
A realistic view of feedback<br />At least, when prompted<br />73% agree that feedback is a process: it is something that ...
Yet…<br />Almost one half of students say they do not understand how they get the mark they do<br />This remains true amon...
Most useful types of feedback<br />Written annotation made on assessed work<br />Meeting with a tutor individually to disc...
Key issues<br />Students prefer individual attention and feedback but how to maintain this in a mass education system but ...
Key issues<br />“We want there to be a renewed focus on high-quality teaching in universities so that it has the same pres...
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Living up to expectations? The NSS and the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol

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In the 2009 National Student Survey (NSS), the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, achieved a 100% satisfaction score, up from 87% in the previous year. In 2010, the satisfaction was 96% amongst our science students but down to 75% for social science students. Despite this variability, in regard to the curricula and professional support given to students, little if anything had changed.
The NSS was introduced by HEFCE in 2005 as part of the quality assurance framework. The aims of it are to promote improvements in universities by making measures of service delivery available to prospective students and, by so doing, help inform student choice.
However, the ability of the NSS to meet these aims has been questioned. Roger Brown, Professor of Higher Education Policy at Liverpool Hope University, has identified what he calls The Information Fallacy, suggests that the conditions permitting effective comparisons between subjects, courses and institutions are missing. A recent article in the Times Higher Education magazine indicated that prospective students are not seeking out the information (Attwood, 2010).
Nevertheless, the current government have signalled an expansion of the sorts of data published from the NSS, disseminated via unistats.direct.gov.uk and incorporated into comparative league tables. It is therefore an appropriate time to reflect on our own experiences at Bristol, on the positives and the negatives that have followed from the NSS, the structural changes we have made to enhance the students’ experience, and to ask, “can we ever meet their expectations? Should we even try?”

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Living up to expectations? The NSS and the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol

  1. 1. Living up to expectations? The NSS and the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol.<br />Rich Harriswww.social-statistic.org@socstatistics<br />Giles Brown<br />
  2. 2. The marketing<br />The School of Geographical Sciences offers innovative degree programmes that give a professional education in contemporary human and physical geography, and provides a supportive and stimulating study environment. The school is consistently ranked highly for both its teaching and research […]<br />Undergraduate prospective, 2012<br />We aim to give you the best student experience possible by continually investing in new and existing facilities, training, technology and services. We aim to provide you with an education of the highest quality that is research-led and fulfills your needs and expectations.<br />www.bris.ac.uk/prospectus/undergraduate/2012/studying/<br />
  3. 3. NSS: the survey we love to loathe!<br />In 2009 the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, achieved a 100% overall satisfaction score<br />
  4. 4. How did we do it?<br />Haven’t a clue!<br />But had spent a lot of time on the professionalisation of student-facing services<br />Raises interesting questions about the relationships between ‘administrators’ and ‘academics’<br />May be putting greater distance between students and academic staff (?)<br />
  5. 5. The only way is down<br />In 2010<br />Human and Social Geography (75%)<br />Or, 7 students were either neutral or negative about their overall satisfaction<br />Physical Geography and Environmental Science (96%)<br />
  6. 6. The Guardian University Rankings<br />Human geography<br />Ranked 4th for 2009/10<br />Ranked 3rd for 2010/11<br />Ranked 5th for 2011/12<br />Though, of course, the NSS is not designed for comparative analysis!<br />
  7. 7. Overall: broadly rosy<br />
  8. 8. Achilles heel<br />
  9. 9. Which is a problem<br />
  10. 10. Student survey 2011<br />Survey of students in years 1 to 3 of their degrees in Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, run as a tutorial exercise within tutorial groups.<br />The response rate was approx. 60% (n = 182)<br />
  11. 11.
  12. 12.
  13. 13. What did it reveal?<br />79% of students agree that the feedback they receive is useful to them with 15% neutral<br />This neutrality is basically interpreted as disagreement in the NSS<br />50% of students agree there are many opportunities for feedback in the School<br />29% are neutral, 21% disagree<br />31% agree that there is too little feedback given in the School<br />28% are neutral, 40% disagree<br />
  14. 14. What did it reveal?<br />62% of students agree that lecturers are willing to meet and discuss a marked assessment<br />35% are neutral, 4% disagree<br />
  15. 15. A realistic view of feedback<br />At least, when prompted<br />73% agree that feedback is a process: it is something that takes places over the course of a degree<br />78% agree that feedback is a conversation – an on-going dialogue between staff and students<br />And honest, too<br />58% say they make good use of feedback in the School (15% disagree) but only 26% say they take the opportunities to meet with lecturers and discuss marked work (50% say they don’t)<br />
  16. 16. Yet…<br />Almost one half of students say they do not understand how they get the mark they do<br />This remains true amongst the third year<br />There is a notable split between those who agree (44%) and those who disagree (41%) that there should be a model answer for a piece of work<br />Physical geography students are slightly less like to agree<br />
  17. 17. Most useful types of feedback<br />Written annotation made on assessed work<br />Meeting with a tutor individually to discuss progress or to collect exam results<br />Written comments given on an assessment feedback sheet<br />Support received from a dissertation advisor<br />Meeting with a tutor to discuss comments written on the previous year’s exam scripts<br />Tutorial discussions and activities<br />
  18. 18. Key issues<br />Students prefer individual attention and feedback but how to maintain this in a mass education system but with increased fees and expectations.<br />How to manage expectations – not only of students but of staff<br />To build on students’ understanding of feedback as a conversation and process<br />Better study skills in year 1<br />Use of ASKe booklets (Assessment Standards Knowledge exchange)<br />Assessment: Doing better! Advice for students<br />Feedback: Make it work for you!<br />www.brookes.ac.uk/aske<br />
  19. 19. Key issues<br />“We want there to be a renewed focus on high-quality teaching in universities so that it has the same prestige as research. So we will empower prospective students by ensuring much better information on different courses. We will deliver a new focus on student charters, student feedback and graduate outcomes. We will oversee a new regulatory framework with the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) taking on a major new role as a consumer champion.”<br />Foreward to Students at the Heart of the System (Higher Education White Paper, June 2011)<br />And we await the 2011 NSS results!<br />

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