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Student Questionnaires

contact: Rob Traynor, Quality Assurance Coordinator, Student and Registry Services

Good Practice

It is intended that this guide should be read by, and be useful to, all members of staff who are responsible for designing and distributing student questionnaires. While the final responsibility for implementing an appropriate student questionnaire format and mechanisms for the subsequent analysis of data must rest with the individual academic Department and/or Faculty, these guidelines are strongly commended.

1. Student questionnaires should be distributed at least once a year for each course, course unit, and half course unit.

2. A separate questionnaire should be distributed after the completion of the entire degree programme, the structure of which should reflect the aim of assessing the whole programme and not just its constituent parts.

3. Where appropriate, questionnaires should allow for the identification of those students who are not registered in the Department.

4. The questionnaires should concentrate on the effectiveness of the teaching on the course as perceived by the student, and should not address the syllabus (Departments should have in place mechanisms for the review of syllabuses).

5. To aid analysis of data, it is recommended that a five point Likert assessment scale is used to allow students to express their level of agreement with the statements on provision, i.e.

  • Strongly agree - 5
  • Agree  - 4
  • Neither Agree nor Disagree - 3
  • Disagree - 2
  • Strongly disagree - 1  
  • “Non-applicable” is also a valid response.

Questionnaires can be read by an Optical Mark Reader, or alternatively using electronic systems to enable on-line completion and to assist the data analysis (Opinio is widely used in UCL and it is also possible to use Moodle). It is advisable to retain the use of the five point assessment scale for electronic questionnaires in order to ease comparability with other programme and previous years’ data. Departments may use this suggested Student Questionnaire template if they wish.

6. The following headings represent the recommended areas to be covered by the core element of the questionnaire, although it is accepted that the individual questions may vary depending on the type of teaching employed (e.g. when lectures do not represent the main mode of teaching):

a. ATTENDANCE

  • What percentage of the total course do you estimate that you attended (please indicate)?

Questions to be answered using the 1-5 assessment scale.

b. COURSE STRUCTURE

  • The course aims were made clear at the start.
  • The course aims were met.
  • Teaching sessions were well-prepared and presented in a logical order.

c. ASSUMED KNOWLEDGE

  • The starting standard was at the right level for me.

d. SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL (where issued)

  • The hand-outs/reading lists were useful.

e. TEACHING DELIVERY

  • The lecturer was audible and the subject matter clearly explained.
  • The pace of teaching was at the right speed.
  • Slides/overheads and other teaching aids were adequate and well-prepared.
  • Online materials and activities were clearly structured and presented and integrated well into the course (including Moodle).

f. STUDENT PARTICIPATION (where applicable)

  • Student participation was encouraged during the course.
  • When active participation online was required (e.g. discussion forums, online development of materials, collaboration) this was managed and supported effectively.

g. WORKLOAD AND FEEDBACK

  • The workload was manageable.
  • The criteria used for marking and assessment were clear in advance.
  • The feedback provided on my coursework was helpful in developing my understanding of the subject.
  • Feedback on my coursework was provided within one calendar month.
  • Feedback was provided by the supervisor on research projects/dissertations/long essays on at least one occasion.

h. INTEREST

  • The teaching was stimulating and helped make the subject interesting.

i. TEACHING SUPPORT FACILITIES (optional where applicable)

  • The computer terminals provided were adequate for my needs.
  • The space provided was sufficient for my needs.
  • Language laboratories were sufficiently equipped for my needs.
  • The studios were adequate for my needs.
  • I was able to access all the recommended reading for my course.

j. INDIVIDUAL STUDENT COMMENTS

  • An adequate space should be provided on each questionnaire to allow the student to add any additional comments. Such comments should be positively encouraged.

7. There should be student involvement in the design of the questionnaire.

8. The assessment of central facilities (i.e. Library Services and Information Systems) should be undertaken independently of Departments and is a matter for the respective heads of those administrative/service areas who should seek appraisals of their services through the distribution of questionnaires to a randomly selected number of students.

9. A report, summarising both the analysis of quantitative data and the commentary written by individual students, should be produced.

10. The analysis of data should be conducted by the Department and a summary of the results forwarded to the Departmental Teaching Committee (DTC) and/or the Staff-Student Consultative Committee (SSCC). Each Department should have adequate mechanisms for identifying action required and ensuring that appropriate action is taken where necessary. It is recommended that analyses of questionnaires should be retained for a period of time in Faculty Offices to allow individual staff to consult them as and when appropriate.

11. The Departmental summary of the main issues and matters of interest arising from the student questionnaires should be forwarded to the Faculty Teaching Committee (FTC). Faculty officers should then produce a faculty-wide summary of the main matters arising from the departmental student questionnaire summaries to be considered at the FTC. This summary should then be submitted to the Joint Staff Student Committee (JSSC) which considers the faculty summaries of student questionnaires alongside other sources of student feedback data and produces an annual overview report for Academic Committee.

12. It is recommended that there are mechanisms in place to ensure students receive feedback from student questionnaires, including analysis of the data and summary of comments. The Department should provide an opportunity for collective comment by students (possibly through SSCCs) on data from questionnaire responses and where relevant, to receive the reaction of course tutors.

13. A high response rate is an essential part of any questionnaire survey. Various techniques for improving response rates include:

  • the distribution of questionnaires unannounced during a timetabled teaching session towards the end of the course;
  • the postal distribution of questionnaires. For large groups of students, a randomly selected group has been shown to be efficient;
  • sending regular (perhaps staggered) e-mail reminders for electronic questionnaires to the students, or using Moodle or other on-line learning tools to prompt students to complete the survey.

14. In consultation with students, a decision should be reached as to whether the questionnaire should be anonymous or not.

15. For small teaching groups a seminar to discuss the course may be considered to be more appropriate than the use of a questionnaire. However (and in line with 9. above), a report on the discussion should be forwarded to the DTC.

September 2013