StudentSurvey.ie (the Irish Survey of Student Engagement; Suirbhé na hÉireann ar Rannpháirtíocht na Mac Léinn) asks students directly about their experiences of higher education in Ireland, including their academic, personal, and social development. For the purposes of StudentSurvey.ie, student engagement reflects two key elements. The first is the amount of time and effort that students put into their studies and other educationally beneficial activities. The second is how institutions deploy resources and organise curricula and learning opportunities to encourage students to participate in meaningful activities linked to learning.
A unique partnership was established between the Higher Education Authority (HEA), the Irish Universities Association (IUA), the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA), and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) to manage, direct, and implement the survey project. The StudentSurvey.ie Steering Group maintains strategic direction for the survey project and consists of representatives of the aforementioned organisations, participating institutions, and the statutory quality assurance and qualifications agency, Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI).
A comprehensive review of the StudentSurvey.ie survey instrument was carried out in 2021. The Survey Review Group considered international good practice, feedback from students, and recommendations from relevant stakeholders in revising the existing questions and considering where additional questions could add value. The outcomes were:
- Revised StudentSurvey.ie objectives
- Minor revisions to the clarity of the existing StudentSurvey.ie questions, including creation of new indicator – Learning, Creative and Social Skills
- Pilot Study 1 - New demographic questions
- Pilot Study 2 - Optional Topical Module questions
- Creation of an International Comparators Factsheet
The focus of the survey is on student engagement with learning, rather than student satisfaction. Student engagement with college life is important in enabling them to develop key capabilities, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, writing skills, team-work, and communication skills. The comprehensive survey consists of 64 questions, grouped by the engagement ‘indicator’ to which they relate. There is an additional body of questions that do not directly relate to a specific indicator, but that are included in the survey because of their contribution to a broad understanding of student engagement. Each indicator score is calculated from responses to the multiple questions that relate to that indicator. The indicators are:
- Higher-Order Learning
- Student-Faculty Interaction
- Reflective and Integrative Learning
- Effective Teaching Practices
- Quantitative Reasoning
- Quality of Interactions
- Learning Strategies
- Supportive Environment
- Collaborative Learning
- Learning, Creative and Social Skills
There is a second survey, which is designed for postgraduate research (PGR) students (Masters by Research and PhD students). PGR StudentSurvey.ie runs every two years, with the next fieldwork period scheduled for spring 2023.
A total of 42,852 students responded to StudentSurvey.ie in February and March 2022, which represents a national response rate of 27.8%. The average indicator score for each indicator is presented below.
The reader is directed HERE for further information about how to interpret indicator scores. The key points to remember are a) indicator scores are scored out of a maximum of 60, b) indicator scores are NOT percentages and, c) due to the way they are calculated, it is not possible to compare indicator scores across different indicators, but d) it is possible to compare indicator scores for different groups within the same indicator.
Interpretation of detailed results requires contextualising the results with information from each individual institution and understanding what the students in that institution are saying. Institutions are committed to interpreting and utilising StudentSurvey.ie data to enhance the experiences of their students and do not support the use of student engagement results for any overly simplistic purpose that could be perceived as ranking institutions.