On 9 May we welcomed 138 delegates to Cloth Hall Court in Leeds for the 2018 Advance HE Surveys Conference. The day provided an engaging and varied showcase for how surveys, measures and metrics are being used across the Higher Education landscape to help drive enhancement. With the digital environment being one of our main strands, the audience enjoyed a morning keynote from Paul Feldman, Chief Executive of Jisc, which highlighted new developments in this area, while the rest of the day was packed full of ideas and opportunities for collaboration across a range of other themes, including learner analytics, qualitative insight and how to provide holistic views of the staff/student experience.
We also heard about some of the challenges facing those who gather and provide student and staff insight such as the threat of over-surveying, the concerns around student wellbeing and the ongoing challenge of measuring and demonstrating teaching excellence, as addressed in our afternoon keynote from Professor Christine Broughan and Dr Graham Steventon, from Coventry University.
Other highlights included Alastair Robertson of Abertay University speaking about the evolution of internal student surveys at his institution. At Abertay the team have managed to increase student participation by ensuring that surveys are now completed in class, but Alastair said that the most important incentive for students is knowing that their opinion is valued by university staff. He also outlined the importance of using emerging technologies to provide additional, informal mechanisms of student feedback and also focussing on student and staff buy-in.
Teri-Lisa Griffiths and Jill Dickinson from Sheffield Hallam University raised some interesting questions in their session on ‘Transforming Experiences’: Illuminating the potential for student self-efficacy as a development metric. Teri-Lisa and Jill’s research has shown that higher levels of self-efficacy enable students to make their own learning decisions, which lead them to ask if institutions are interested in self-efficacy as a metric? They concluded by suggesting that metrics have to change with students instead of being fixed, if they are to be truly student-centred.
Mary-lou Barratt, Senior Lecturer at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) said she had been “spoilt for choice” with the number of breakout sessions at the conference. She is leading a research project that will tap into the student voice in terms of retention and said that attending the conference was “very useful” to help with her research.
Kerry Sullivan and Richard Davies of Cardiff University, both first-time attendees, said they would definitely come again as it was very valuable to “find out what other institutions are doing and how they use the data from surveys.”
And Paul Goddard of the University of Lincoln welcomed the mix of people, “from those at the data coalface to lecturers, who have different concerns and institutional perspectives”, adding that the different sessions “really opened my eyes”.