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How art and design students understand and interpret the National Student Survey

Blair, Bernadette, Orr, Susan and Yorke, Mantz (2011) How art and design students understand and interpret the National Student Survey. Higher Education Academy, HEA Website.

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GLAD_FINALnss-1.doc - Published Version


Since the introduction of the National Student Survey in 2005, it has been noted that the average satisfaction scores vary across different disciplines (see, for example, Vaughan and Yorke 2009, p.8). And for just as long, it has been noted that art and design graduates? satisfaction is among the lowest scoring disciplines. As the influence and reach of the NSS has increased - most recently in its inclusion as a key component of the government?s Key Information Set initiative - the art and design community has become increasingly concerned to explain the satisfaction gap experienced by many students studying in this area. The community?s response is well articulated in the title of a study that explores this issue: ??I can?t believe it?s not better?: The Paradox of NSS scores for Art & Design? (Vaughan and Yorke 2009). This study was commissioned by GLAD to look at how art and design has experienced and responded to the NSS, especially in the two major areas of feedback and assessment and organisation and management. The report showed that institutions varied considerably in terms of the ratings students gave to NSS questions, implying that there had been differential success in addressing aspects of the student experience probed by the survey. What the report did not attempt to do was gain an understanding of the basis of the ratings given by students. It was therefore a logical extension to ask how art and design students understand and interpret the questions in the National Student Survey, and GLAD and HEA commissioned the authors to carry out a small research project which takes a snapshot of how a small group of art and design students interpreted the NSS questions in 2011. This report is an overview of this study, and it aims to help colleagues in art and design subjects to: ? understand why art and design subjects receive the NSS ratings that they do; ? illuminate and understand how art and design students interpret and understand this generic questionnaire; and ? provide further information to assist staff and students to prepare for the NSS. The key aim of this study is not to explain the responses that students give in the NSS. Its focus is instead on seeking to understand the ways in which students understand the NSS questions. As a result this is a qualitative interview-based study. The NSS questionnaire comprises 22 questions, and before the interviews the researchers narrowed the focus of this study down to eight of these. The eight questions were selected because they were viewed as central to the survey (e.g. question 22), or because they were questions that are particularly interesting in relation to creative and studio-based pedagogy in art and design (e.g. question 1).

Item Type: Other
Additional Information: This material may be freely distributed and copied for educational purposes only, provided that appropriate acknowledgement is given to the Higher Education Academy as the copyright holder and original publisher.
Status: Published
School/Department: Vice Chancellor's Office
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/4750

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