I am currently organising a workshop for languages, linguistics and area studies lecturers on making the most of National Student Survey (NSS). The workshop will include reports by three colleagues who have been funded by LLAS to carry out research into how students and staff understand the NSS questions. What does the statement, “overall, I am satisfied with the quality of my course” really mean? The NSS has not been without its critics, but its use in league tables and websites providing information to potential students makes it impossible to ignore.
I don’t think there is much to be gained from chasing the ratings. A couple of percentage points here and there can make a big difference to a department’s position in a league table, and the potential for wasted time, money and effort in making superficial changes in the vague hope of squeezing out an extra 3% satisfaction is a real possibility. In my view the real opportunity the NSS provides is to open dialogue between students and their teachers.
The workshop will be held in London on 22 June 2011. You can register online at the LLAS website.