AIT students have their say in national engagement survey

Publication of 2016 results from the Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE)

Over 29,000 students nationwide including AIT students have their say in national engagement survey

Publication of 2016 results from the Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE)

The results of a national survey of third level students will help Irish higher education institutions to continue to enhance the quality of education they provide. Over 29,000 students from thirty higher education institutions participated in an improved survey in 2016, adding their experiences to an increasingly valuable data set on how students engage with their learning and the learning environments. The results of the survey are intended to add value within institutions, and to inform national policy.

Commenting on the report, Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, TD, said, “I welcome the continuing commitment of students, and the higher education institutions they attend, to build a strong evidence base of students’ experiences. This is important to inform discussions and actions leading to continued improvement for the benefit of all current and future students.”

The Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE) is designed to enable direct student input on the full experience of higher education. Student feedback provides institutions with valuable information to identify good practice that enhances the student experience and to prompt awareness of, and action on, any particular issues or challenges that affect students.

Dr Joseph Ryan, Registrar at AIT said; “Athlone Institute of Technology warmly welcomes the issue of results from the Irish Survey of Student Engagement. The Institute has again recorded the highest level of engagement with the survey at 54%, being twice the national average. This is a credit to the strong support from the AIT Students’ Union and reflects the importance that the college attaches to this significant national instrument. The high level of satisfaction recorded by the students is heartening and the detailed and valuable feedback will be employed to enhance further the programmes and services of the institute.”

2016 saw the first use of a revised and substantially shortened survey. The original survey was initially used in 2013 and continued until 2015. Almost 60,000 students nationally participated in the original survey from 2013 to 2015. The original and revised surveys are offered to all first year undergraduate, final year undergraduate and taught postgraduate students in thirty higher education institutions including all Universities, all Institutes of Technology and all Colleges of Education.

Speaking at the launch of the 2016 Report in Dublin Castle, Director of the US National Survey of Student Engagement, Prof. Alexander McCormick, from Indiana University, said, “Student engagement offers a valuable counterpoint to satisfaction and reputation-based views of quality in higher education. The Irish Survey of Student Engagement documents experiences and affordances that matter to student learning—with current students serving as the most reliable informants—providing institutions with valuable diagnostic information that can be used to inform improvement efforts.”

President of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), Annie Hoey, said, “The Union of Students in Ireland welcomes the publication of the 2016 results and its contribution to the sector’s deepening insight into the student experience. USI has always believed that a core function of a democratic higher education institution is to listen to its students and ISSE is an essential instrument for that goal. The growing ISSE dataset is of huge value to colleges and students’ unions alike. The more we continue to drive this project as a sector, the more we can improve the student experience.”

Some results from the 2016 survey

  • 69% of students reports that teaching staff clearly explain course goals and requirements either ‘quite a bit’ or ‘very much’.
  • 45% of students reports that teaching staff provide feedback on work in progress either ‘quite a bit’ or ‘very much’.
  • 73% of students report that teaching staff use examples or illustrations to explain difficult points either ‘quite a bit’ or ‘very much’.
  • 75% of students report that they have developed critical and analytical thinking skills either ‘quite a bit’ or ‘very much’.
  • 68% report that they have developed skills to work effectively with others either ‘quite a bit’ or ‘very much’.
  • 56% of students report that they have developed clear and effective writing skills from their experience at the institution either ‘quite a bit’ or ‘very much’.

The ISSE project is funded by the HEA and co-sponsored by the Higher Education Authority, the Irish Universities Association (IUA), the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). The survey was developed in response to a key recommendation of the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 that every higher education institution should put in place a comprehensive anonymous student feedback system to inform institutional and programme/course development, as well as national policy.

ISSE is based on best practice internationally and is closely related to US National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) which has been in place since 2000, and to the UK Engagement Survey (UKES) which was piloted in 2013 and 2014 and has run on a voluntary basis in 2015 and 2016.

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