The Student Room Group

NSS - No more "overall satisfaction" question in England

Whilst looking up National Student Survey data on the Office for Students web site, I came across this:

"NOTE: The overall satisfaction question (Question 28) has a different format from the other published questions, and a different set of response options. Responses to question 28 cannot be directly compared with responses to other questions, which is why we show this question separately. Question 28 is only asked of students studying at providers based in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales."

Confused, I dug a little deeper and found this consultation where the Office for Students proposes "Removal of the summative question for England".

They cite a few reasons for this proposal:
"the term ‘satisfaction’ was regarded as unhelpful"
"was seen as too consumerist in nature"
"concerns about the use of the summative question by the media"
"its removal might make the results less susceptible to ranking"

Note that "the regulator and funding bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland wish to retain a summative measure of some description". So it's just in England that it's being removed.

(Needless to say, the outcome of the consultation, here confirms that they went ahead with the proposal.)

I don't know about you, but I found that question extremely useful when trying to establish whether a course was any good or not. If the students graduating from a course weren't satisfied with it, why would the next batch of students want to apply to it?

Was everyone else aware of this change?
Reply 1
I don't think it's very useful, there's a raft of data showing how easy it is to manipulate students into giving a positive answer to it, it's even as simple as giving them some sweets before having them take the survey. I don't think the NSS in general is fit for purpose to be honest, it is gamed by just about everyone.
Original post by gjd800
I don't think it's very useful, there's a raft of data showing how easy it is to manipulate students into giving a positive answer to it, it's even as simple as giving them some sweets before having them take the survey. I don't think the NSS in general is fit for purpose to be honest, it is gamed by just about everyone.

Are you aware of any alternatives? Suppose a particular course at a university is just being taught badly. How would potential future students ever find out?

(There are examples or users here on TSR describing their course or university in unflattering terms, so I guess a search on TSR might yield some useful information.)
I’d love to see the source of the “data” showing that offering sweets to fill in the NSS improves the proportion of positive responses.
I’d love to see the source of the “data” showing that offering sweets to fill in the NSS improves the proportion of positive responses.

Maybe the sweets were laced with something. :shock:
Original post by DataVenia
I don't know about you, but I found that question extremely useful when trying to establish whether a course was any good or not. If the students graduating from a course weren't satisfied with it, why would the next batch of students want to apply to it?

I remember a while ago people used to commonly argue here that low student satisfaction was a good thing as it implied that the course was rigorous and tough!
Original post by DataVenia
Maybe the sweets were laced with something. :shock:

I’ve been involved in multiple projects over the years to improve league table performance. The trickiest data to improve was NSS. The only cast iron technique we found to improve NSS scores was to completely restructure and improve the resourcing of the final year of a degree.

Would have saved a bunch of time and effort if sweets had worked (but then we tried donuts before redesigning the courses so maybe that’s where we went wrong)
I’ve been involved in multiple projects over the years to improve league table performance. The trickiest data to improve was NSS. The only cast iron technique we found to improve NSS scores was to completely restructure and improve the resourcing of the final year of a degree.

Would have saved a bunch of time and effort if sweets had worked (but then we tried donuts before redesigning the courses so maybe that’s where we went wrong)

:biggrin:

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