Using surveys to receive feedback from students, enhance teaching and learning and underpin evidence based decision-making has become the norm for the global higher education sector.
Some questions that arise are: which survey, why and how, and for what purpose!
When thinking about postgraduate research one of the most robust and flexible surveys that a university can use is the biennial (in the UK) Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) launched in 2007 by the HEA.
Due to its success the survey has attracted the attention of a number of higher education providers outside the UK and is currently being piloted by the Australian National University (ANU) – the project is led by Leone Nurbasari (Manager, Evaluations, Planning and Performance Measurement) and her team.
One of the main focuses of PRES is to gather insights from postgraduate research students (Doctoral and Masters by Research) about their university life and in particular about their learning and supervision experience.
PRES can be adapted to the particular context of the higher education system that an institution is operating in, to ensure that the survey is relevant to the individual institution/country terminology, operational environment, English language norms, and other sector-based factors.
Thus, before launching their pilot survey the ANU Planning and Performance Measurement (PPM) team sought and received feedback from key stakeholders over a period of three months to customise PRES (while liaising with HEA) for the needs of Australian higher education (based on the UK version).
Following feedback from stakeholders, the draft questionnaire went through a cognitive interview testing process with a representative sample of current ANU students, this lead to further adjustments of the questionnaire.
The ANU consultation with stakeholders included feedback from a number of sources such as senior ANU management, Associate Deans (Higher Degree Research), the University Librarian, and the Student Consultative Committee; while the cognitive interview process was based on face-to-face interviews of approximately 45 minutes.
It has been fascinating to learn about the outcomes and conclusions of the PRES pilot at ANU later this year. Representatives from ANU (Leone Nurbasari and Bo Liu) participated in this year’s Surveys for Enhancement Conference in London.
What is your experience in using PRES?
How can PRES be adapted for the higher education environment in your country?
What is the first step one should do if interested in running PRES in any higher education institution around the globe?