The voice of specialist further education

Learner Surveys

Our learners matter

The voice of our students matters. Therefore, in 2016 & 2017, Natspec ran a national survey to determine how students feel about their time at college. This supplemented individual activities at colleges.

Feedback has always been very positive. The survey allowed colleges to benchmark their own responses and to identify areas for improvement.

How student surveys are set up

The guidance that we gave to colleges running learner surveys was as follows:

  • Aim for a minimum of 60% of eligible learners completing the survey – the more the better. However, we recognise there will be some learners for whom this approach is not appropriate.
  • For the national survey, eligible learners are all full-time students and part-time students attending for 16 hours a week or more.
  • The questions are based on the most commonly asked questions in colleges’ own surveys.
  • The survey form is sent out in word format and colleges need to adapt it to suit their own learners.
  • The survey can be presented in whatever way is most appropriate, using symbols, signing, reading aloud, hard copy, or on computer. The timescale should be appropriate for the students involved (so that you can go back to the survey over time if this is more suitable).
  • This can also include the use of observation by staff as a method of collecting views.
  • There are two options for responses:

a) The 5 point scale – always, most of the time, some of the time, never. Use appropriate signs or symbols to support the responses as required. This will provide a more sophisticated analysis

b) The 3 point scale – yes, no, not sure (responses supported by appropriate signs or symbols).

  • Use the scale which suits your students best. Use both scales with different students if necessary, but make sure you input the collated results into the correct Survey Monkey.
  • Students can complete with the level and type of support they would normally receive – signs, symbols, photos, examples etc. They can also work 1-1 or in a group size that suits their needs.

The only restriction is that supporting staff must not use value laden words in clarifying the questions. So for example, staff can show a photo or sign for technology, but must not describe it as good or bad. The electronic is not intended for students to use, but they can complete the word version electronically if this is appropriate.

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