A Russell Group University

Student survey coding

The brief

Since 2020, a UK university has commissioned Shift to code the open responses from their National Student Survey results, as well as other internal student surveys, across both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Our partnership over the years has allowed us to adapt our method using our knowledge of the key issues faced to create tailored code frames.

The approach

Creating code frames: Each year, we use a similar code frame to the previous year to allow the university to track changes over time. Crucially, however, we update this to include any new topic areas and to account for any current events such as university staff strikes. 

Coding: We categorise responses as positive, negative or neutral and then sub-code these into specific topics, including areas such as the course, teaching, assessments, communications, facilities and learning resources. We use Caplena data analysis software to thematically code each survey question.

The value

We provide the university with excel outputs of the coded survey questions, which included topline summaries of the spread of responses, more granular level detail on the number of responses for each code, and the full list of open comments against their respective codes.

Our data allows the university to see trends by student grouping, as we attach unique identifiers to each respondent, enabling the university to then apply this coded data to their wider NSS responses. Using similar code frames each year also allows the university to track changes year on year.