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National Student Survey: Reboot and refresh?

July 17, 2012

New NSS questions for IT!

Now! ***

Consider the extent that students make of use institution–provided IT at university, and how vital it this is not only for their studies but the whole of the student experience. 

Whilst a fresher accesses the VLE for the first time, a psychology undergraduate is being taught SPSS on campus, and in the labs next door STEM subject students are mining and modelling large data sets.  Are these learners’ experiences tested by the current National Student Survey question: “I have been able to access general IT resources when I needed to”?


The question is unhelpful because “general IT resources” means too many different things to different students.  

As a starting point, the organisation I work for, UCISA, would like to propose that the NSS question concerning IT is reworded to assess both the availability of static IT facilities for students whilst on campus, and ease of access to resources when students are not on campus.

So the current NSS question 17 “I have been able to access general IT resources when I needed to” might become: “I have been able to access general IT resources on campus” and “My institution provides ways of accessing institutional resources (such as e-journals, software) when I am not on campus.”

What do you think of this idea?  Please leave your comments below.

My colleague Peter Tinson has also blogged on this topic .

*** HEFCE will review the questions in c.3 years.   But I’d like to get the conversation going now.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Stuart Barkworth permalink
    July 17, 2012 5:04 pm

    Yes more specific questions would be helpful.
    Also device specific:
    I can access from my PC/Mac
    I can access from my mobile phone

    A good conversation to start

    • July 18, 2012 8:53 am

      Thanks for the comment Stuart.

      I agree.

      We wanted to begin with a fairly simple opening salvo, but given the trend for students to get hold of timetables, course notes, reading material etc. via their mobiles, device specific questions would also be a useful direction take.

  2. July 18, 2012 10:12 am

    I agree too! Distance Learner’s, Part Time, Internation Students! I’m sure off campus access is high on their list of what they need IT to provde #ussc12

    • July 18, 2012 11:25 am

      Thanks for this Sally. You’re right, international and distance learners have a whole other set of needs and aspirations. I wonder how well this is this refected in the NSS survey as a whole, let alone the IT question asked within it.

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