Triangulating student data
As a measure of engagement, the UK Engagement Survey [UKES] sits against satisfaction surveys such as the National Student Survey [NSS] as a tool to explore the student experience. As such, it provides data on students’ interactions with their studies. However, placed out of context such data can be misleading, and potentially even deceptive. A new case study by Elena Zaitseva from Liverpool John Moores University highlights the ways in which combining data from several sources can provide a more complete picture of institutional provision and student experience. A key focus of the case study is the ways in which UKES has enabled a deeper understanding of the student experience through triangulation of data, and benchmarking. Elena has previously authored on the use of data triangulation in order to add breadth and depth to the data analysis and make better informed decisions, in particular with regards to addressing the challenge of institutional-level qualitative data .
Using different methods or data to explore a particular research question means that a topic can be approached from different angles allowing fuller, and potentially more accurate, results. Using UKES as an engagement survey allowed LJMU to explore an aspect of the student experience which other satisfaction surveys were unable to capture. Therefore, using a mixture of UKES and other surveys has enabled them to explore student experience and gain a deeper insight into strengths and weaknesses within different areas of their students’ experiences.
Results in context
A key benefit that national surveys are able to offer to institutions is the ability to benchmark against others within the sector. Such benchmarking has enabled disciplinary areas at LJMU to explore how they compare to others, and place their own results in context in order to better understand their strengths and weaknesses. Now that LJMU are in their fourth year of taking part in UKES, they are able to explore which areas are consistently strong. Survey results naturally vary year-on-year with dynamic cohorts and therefore being able to view longer-term trends enables institutions to explore their students’ experiences over time, viewing areas of consistency and the long-term impacts of interventions.
The link between engagement and satisfaction
LJMU have gone on to conduct analysis on the ways in which the students’ engagement and satisfaction may be linked to each other, and to indicators of student success. A key finding of their research has been that programme engagement scores are positively correlated with retention and degree outcomes. Such a finding obviously has key implications for the overall success of the institution and has reinforced the value of understanding student engagement.
Elena’s case study provides an example of the ways in which UKES is a valuable tool for exploring and understanding the student experience. Elena’s case study can be found here.
 You can read more on their work, funded through the HEA’s Strategic Excellence Initiative here. https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/about/our-role-institutions/strategic-excellence-initiative-vice-chancellors-or-principals/liverpool#sthash.Zik1vEWs.dpuf