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University of the Arts London

Exploring student satisfaction

The brief

UAL were keen to gain insight into students’ perceptions of key satisfaction measures within the National Student Survey (NSS) which the university had identified as most in need of improvement. The research set out to explore students’ understanding of 7 key National Student Survey statements, in order to understand what elements drive student satisfaction within each of these areas. Shift Learning aimed to identify and unpack these factors in order to determine their relative weight and contribution to student satisfaction, and provide actionable recommendations accordingly.

Our approach and methodology

The research focused on 2nd year undergraduate students in order to generate effective short term recommendations to be fed back to students at the beginning of the 2016/17 academic year, with the expectation that this would have a positive impact on their subsequent NSS scores. This project involved a two-stage methodology:

  • Stage 1: Qualitative interviews: We carried out 36 in-depth telephone interviews lasting 45 minutes, using cognitive interviewing technique. These were conducted with a mix of course reps across the six colleges to unpack students’ understanding of key satisfaction measures and to identify factors driving scoring.
  • Stage 2: Quantitative eSurvey: Using findings from the initial qualitative phase, we developed a 10 minute online survey – for which we received 649 completes. This looked to ascertain the level of influence that identified factors have on NSS measures by employing the use of Key Driver Analysis as part of our advanced statistical approach.
Delivering results and value to our client

Our creative design and flexible approach to the research gave UAL a wealth of findings and insight. The two-stage methodology allowed us to gain an in-depth understanding of factors found to be important in relation to each NSS statement, as well as to determine their relative contribution to satisfaction scores. This enabled us to identify which actions needed to be prioritised to effectively address these areas.

All our recommendations were delivered in a final report with the results of the research, as well as in a presentation to the UAL Academic Board. We provided interview transcripts, a full raw dataset, analysis tables and access to Q Reader software to enable flexibility with the research results, allowing UAL to further explore and manipulate the data in a multitude of ways.