Project on Enhancing Student Support

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					                                                                              CHSS/P&R/59/11


                               CHSS Planning and Resources Committee, 8 May 2012


Outcome of College of Humanities and Social Science survey of
undergraduate students
This paper summarises the findings of CHSS’s recent survey of undergraduate
students regarding academic and pastoral support arrangements in Schools.

1        Background

Following discussion at CHSS Planning and Resources Committee, CHSS organised
a survey in order to provide evidence for Schools, and for the College, regarding how
current Director of Studies / Student Support Officer arrangements are working, to
assist with the University’s Project on Enhancing Student Support (PESS).

2        The Survey

The survey ran from 2 March 2012 until 30 March 2012. All the College’s
undergraduate students (with the exception of students eligible to participate in the
2012 National Student Survey) were invited to complete the survey. Broadly
speaking, this meant that the survey covered students in years one to three of
undergraduate degree programmes owned by Schools in CHSS, plus undergraduate
Visiting Students, and students on the College’s general ordinary degree programme,
the BA (Humanities and Social Science).

The College emailed students to invite them to complete the survey. It also
encouraged Schools, and EUSA, to promote the survey to the student body. To
encourage students to respond, the College ran a prize draw for respondents.

3        Response rates

A total of 1,906 students responded to the survey, out of a total of 9,311 students
invited to complete the survey. This represents a 20.47 % response rate.

4        Summary of main findings

The main points from the survey responses are:

4.1      Patterns of support

     The three most commonly cited reasons for students having contact with their
      DoSs are relevant to most students, irrespective of their personal circumstances or
      academic progress: advice regarding course choice (59% of respondents who say
      they have had contact with their DoS), general academic advice / support (about
      40%), and discussion of progression with studies (irrespective of whether they are
      experiencing any specific difficulties) (25%). Relatively few respondents (about
      6%) say that they discuss their career plans with their DoS.




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     The most commonly cited reasons for students having contact with Schools’
      administrative staff fall into two categories: assessment (coursework submission,
      return to students of assessed work, request for extension to coursework
      deadlines); and routine Student Support Officer functions regarding matriculation
      and enrolment (registering for courses at the start of the year, confirming
      attendance, changes to course choices).

     Most contact with DoSs and School support staff occurs either by email or in
      person. Contact between students and School administrative staff is more
      frequently by email than in person, whereas contact with DoSs is more often in
      person than by email. Only a small proportion of contact is by telephone.

4.2      Satisfaction with support arrangements

     The vast majority of students are satisfied with the academic and pastoral support
      provided by Schools. There is considerable evidence (including free-text
      comments) of exceptional contributions from both academic and support staff.

     Students appear more satisfied with the support provided by administrative staff
      (such as Student Support Officers) than with Directors of Studies, though
      satisfaction for both groups is high. About 82% agreed that their overall
      experience of contact with administrative staff was positive and 74% agreed that
      their overall experience of contact with their Director of Studies was positive.

     There is scope for further improvement in Schools’ academic and pastoral support
      arrangements, since a minority of students say they are not satisfied with some
      aspects of the support arrangements. The main areas in which these students
      would like the arrangements to be improved are: more frequent contact with DoS;
      more personalised relationship with DoS; DoSs and administrative staff should
      respond promptly to correspondence from directees (where they do not already do
      this); minimise the number of DoSs an individual student has during their
      programme of studies; clarify roles and responsibilities within the academic and
      pastoral support system. While it is important to ensure consistency in relation to
      these issues, it is important to note that only a relatively small minority of students
      are dissatisfied with current arrangements.

     There is scope for increasing the emphasis on discussion of progression with
      studies and of career plans. However, there is little evidence that students are
      currently dissatisfied about not having discussions with their DoSs on these issues.

     In general, there is only relatively modest variation between Schools in terms of
      patterns of academic and pastoral support and satisfaction with that support.

     Respondents in year one are in general more satisfied with the support
      arrangements than those in years two or year three.

4.3      Feeling part an academic community

     Only about half of the students (51%) feel part of an academic community.



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The Annex to this paper sets out the findings in more detail. These results need to be
interpreted with great care. For example, while some respondents comment in strong
terms about problems with a particular aspect of the system in the free-text comments,
responses to other questions indicate that the vast majority of students are satisfied
with that particular aspect of the system.

5      Addressing issues raised by the survey

The University’s Project to Enhance Student Support should lead to improvements in
academic and pastoral support across Schools in CHSS. The project will address some
of the particular issues raised in the survey. For example:

   It will lead to more frequent contact between Personal Tutors (who will replace
    Directors of Studies) and students;

   Personal Tutors will be encouraged to support their tutees in developing graduate
    attributes and in planning their careers;

   While some DoSs already talk to their directees about aspects of academic
    development (irrespective of whether they are experiencing any particular
    difficulties), this will become more explicit and consistent;

   It will clarify the respective roles of Personal Tutors, Student Support Officers,
    and other role-holders.

As they indicate in their annual plans, most Schools in CHSS are also exploring a
variety of ways to help undergraduate students feel more part of an academic
community. Examples include further developing peer support schemes, introducing
new social events, raising the profile of discipline-based student societies, and estates
developments (eg co-locating UG, PGT and PGR study and teaching spaces).

6      Communication of results

The College has shared summary findings with the Student Support Implementation
Group (SSIG), and will also share this more detailed report with SSIG. The College
has provided each School (Head of School, Director of Undergraduate Studies and
School Administrator) with the responses from their students. The College will also
discuss the findings at CUGLAT’s next meeting on 10 May 2012.

After the examination diet, the College plans to email all students setting out the main
messages from the survey and what the College and University are doing in response.

Schools are also encouraged to share and discuss their own results and the College
level results with their students, in the context of dialogues about enhancing student
support.




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7      Monitoring progress

Subject to the approval of the CHSS Dean of Students, the College is proposing to run
an equivalent survey in 2013, to assist it in monitoring the impact of the Enhancing
Student Support project and associated work.


Dr Morag Donaldson, CHSS Dean of Undergraduate Studies
Tom Ward, CHSS Student Experience Manager

2 May 2012




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Annex - Detailed analysis of survey responses
Section A: Background Information on respondents

1. In what School is your degree programme based?

                                                 % of Total                  Number of
                                                 Number of     Number of      students    Response
                      School                     Responses     responses      surveyed      rate
                    Business:                      7.10%          135            638       21.16%
                     Divinity:                     2.50%          48             202       23.76%
                   Economics:                      7.50%          143            564       25.35%
            Edinburgh College of Art:             10.30%          197           1377       14.31%
       Moray House School of Education:           11.80%          224           1273       17.60%
             Health in Social Science:             0.80%          16             97        16.49%
       History, Classics and Archaeology:         12.20%          233            812       28.69%
                       Law:                        5.90%          113            634       17.82%
      Literatures, Languages and Cultures:        17.50%          334           1290       25.89%
 Philosophy, Psychology and Language Science:     11.30%          215            891       24.13%
           Social and Political Science:           7.90%          150            750       20.00%
   College of Humanities and Social Sciences
 (Visiting Students; BA Humanities and Social
                     Science):                     3.30%           62            783       7.92%
                      Other                        1.90%           36           N/A         N/A
                     Total                        100.00%         1906          9311      20.47%


2. In what Subject Area is your degree programme based?

                                                                                          Totals
                   Archaeology (including Environmental Archaeology)                        23
                         Architecture and Architectural History                             35
                                             Art                                            44
                        Asian Studies (Chinese, Japanese, Sanskrit)                         22
           Business Studies (including International Business) and Accounting              121
                Celtic and Scottish Studies (including Scottish Ethnology)                   7
                                     Childhood Practice                                      7
                           Classics (including Ancient History)                             43
                                      Cognitive Science                                      5
                                   Community Education                                      20
                                           Design                                           31
                              Divinity and Religious Studies                                39
                                         Economics                                          94
                                      English Language                                      10
                              English or Scottish Literature                                80
                            European Languages and Cultures                                113
                                          Fine Art                                          20
          History (including Economic and Social History, and Scottish History)            129
                                       History of Art                                       21
 Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (Arabic, Persian, Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies)     12
                                  Landscape Architecture                                     9
                                            Law                                             97
                                         Linguistics                                        35
                                            Music                                           35
                                          Nursing                                           18
                                         Philosophy                                         22
                            Politics and International Relations                            58
                                     Primary Education                                     110
                                         Psychology                                         86




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                                     Secondary Education                                              36
                                         Social Policy                                                 6
                                         Social Work                                                  10
                                          Sociology                                                   24
                                     Social Anthropology                                              23
           Sport (Applied Sport Science, and Sport and Recreation Management)                         29
                                 Sustainable Development                                               3
                               Visiting Student programme                                             15
                           BA (Humanities and Social Science)                                          9
                                           Other                                                     405
                                           Totals                                                    1906


3. What year of programme are you in?

                  Totals           Number of students surveyed                      Response rate
   Year 1*         684                        3946                                     17.33%
   Year 2          536                        2467                                     21.73%
   Year 3          686                        2898                                     23.67%
   Totals         1906                        9311                                    20.47%

* Visiting Students are recorded as being in year 1 of programme. This explains why far more students surveyed are in year one
than year two or three.


A total of 1,906 students responded to the survey, out of a total of 9,311 students
invited to complete the survey. This represents a 20.47 % response rate. Response
rates are lower for Visiting Students and students on the BA Humanities and Social
Science – that is, students ‘owned’ by the College rather than individual Schools. For
those groups, the response rate is only 7.9%. Excluding that group, the response rate
is 21.6%.

The majority of Schools (7 out of 11) have response rates of 20% or more, with
response rates ranging from 28.69% to 14.31%. For one School (Health in Social
Science), the number of respondents is very low (reflecting the small undergraduate
student population), making it difficult to draw firm conclusions from the responses.
To a lesser extent, this is the case for Divinity as well. Since the Directors of Studies /
SSO system was only introduced in Art, Design and Landscape Architecture in ECA
in 2011-12, it is necessary to exercise caution when comparing the results for ECA to
those of other parts of CHSS. For these reasons, when considering the similarities and
differences between Schools in relation to survey questions, the responses of Health,
Divinity and ECA will not be taken into account.

Response rates vary according to year of programme. Students in year three have the
highest response rates - 23.6%, compared to 21.7% in year two and 17.3% in year
one. As such, the survey responses are skewed slightly towards students in the later
years of their programme of study. In part, the low response rates for year one
students will reflect lower than average response rates for Visiting Students (all of
whom are recorded as being in year one of programme). When Visiting Students are
excluded, the response rate for year one students is about 19%.




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Section B: Administrative Support Services

4. How frequently have you been in contact with the School's administrative
support services (Student Support Officers, UG Teaching Office, Subject / Course
Secretaries etc)?

                                                                             Totals       %
    Very often eg one or more times a week during one or both semesters        60       3.15%
            Quite often eg a few times over one or both semesters             585      30.69%
                 Occasionally eg once or twice over the year                  1013     53.15%
                                    Never                                     248      13.01%
                                    Totals                                    1906    100.00%


        4.a. If "Never", why is this so?

                                                                             Totals       %
                                                   No need to make contact    234      94.35%
                                                                    Other      14       5.65%
                                                                    Totals    1906    100.00%


The majority of respondents (53.1%) say that they only have occasional contact with
Student administrative support services (once or twice over the year). A large
minority (30.7%) have contact with School administrative support services ‘quite
often’ (a few times over one or both semesters), whereas very few (3.2%) say that
they have contact with School administrative support services ‘very often’ (defined as
one or more times a week during one or both semesters). About 13% of respondents
say that they never have contact with these services – and almost all of these
respondents say that this is because they had no need to make contact. These patterns
of contact are broadly consistent across the different Schools in CHSS, though there is
some variation between Schools regarding the proportion of respondents who say that
they ‘never’ have contact with their Schools administrative support services (this
varies from 9% to 18%, with most Schools in the range 10% to 15%).




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5. Which of the following needs were the subject of your contact with the School's
administrative support services?

                                                                                            % of respondents (excluding
                                                                                            respondents who said they
                                                                                             have had no contact with
                                                                 % of            % of          School administrative
                                                   Totals      responses      respondents          support staff)
                 WebCT queries                      314          5.47%          16.47%                18.95%
    Turnitin (plagiarism detection software)
                    queries                         80            1.39%          4.20%                 4.83%
            Coursework submission                   732          12.75%         38.41%                44.18%
     Return (to students) of assessed work,
            marks, and/or feedback                  574          10.00%         30.12%                34.64%
      Class (or meeting) venues and times           360           6.27%         18.89%                21.73%
    DOS/Academic staff availability question        428           7.45%         22.46%                25.83%
    Request for a non-academic reference (eg
         for bank, letting agency, etc)             211           3.67%         11.07%                12.73%
             Confirming attendance                  530           9.23%         27.81%                31.99%
     Registering for courses at start of year       769          13.39%         40.35%                46.41%
           Changes to course choices                493           8.59%         25.87%                29.75%
      Degree Programme transfer options             285           4.96%         14.95%                17.20%
      Request for extension on coursework
                    deadline                        211          3.67%          11.07%                12.73%
    Special Circumstances (ie. a formal report
    of Circumstances for the consideration of
             the Board of Examiners)                219          3.81%          11.49%                13.22%
        Informal request for advice on a
      health/personal matter affecting your
                     studies                        167          2.91%           8.76%                10.08%
           No contact has taken place               249          4.34%          13.06%                15.03%
                     Other                          120          2.09%           6.30%                 7.24%

Note: Respondents were allowed to make multiple responses to this question.


The most frequently cited subjects for contact with Schools’ administrative support
services fall into two categories:

      Assessment (coursework submission, return to students of assessed work, request
       for extension to coursework deadlines); and

      Routine Student Support Officer functions regarding matriculation and enrolment
       (registering for courses at the start of the year, confirming attendance, changes to
       course choices).

A lot of students also cited ‘DoS / Academic staff availability’ as a reason to contact
the School’s administrative support services.

Where respondents used the free-text comments section to identify subjects not
covered in the survey, by far the most frequently-cited reasons for contacting Schools’
administrative support services relate to study abroad. Quite a lot of respondents also
said that they contacted School administrative staff to give reasons for absence from
their classes / to request Authorised Interruption of Studies.

Broadly speaking, this pattern of contact with School administrative support staff is
similar across all Schools in CHSS. However, there is also quite a lot of variation


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between Schools in relation to some specific subjects of contact. The most noticeable
areas of variation are ‘WebCT queries’ (8% to 30% of respondents cite this), ‘return
(to students of assessed work’ (19% to 46%), ‘changes to course choices’ (23% to
46%), and ‘Degree programme transfer options’ (4% to 29%). Some of this variation
is likely to reflect differences in programme structures. For example, compared to the
College average, far fewer Education respondents say they contact administrative
staff to make changes to course choices or to discuss degree programme changes,
reflecting the prescribed nature of many of the UG programmes in Education. Other
areas of variation are likely to reflect differences in administrative arrangements
across Schools.

6. Which type(s) of contact have you had with the School's administrative support
services?

                                                                       % of respondents (excluding respondents who said
                Total number                            % of            they had no contact with School administrative
                 of responses     % of responses     respondents                        support staff)
 Telephone            170             5.70%             8.92%                               10.35%
   Email             1430            47.95%            75.03%                               87.09%
 In person           1118            37.49%            58.66%                               68.09%
   None               264             8.85%            13.85%                               16.08%

Note: Respondents were allowed to make multiple responses to this question.


Respondents say that email is the most frequent type of contact with School
Administrative support services (87% of those who had contact said this was one of
the forms it took), though in person contact is also very common (68%). Relatively
few respondents say they have contact by telephone. This pattern of contact is broadly
similar across all Schools, though there is a bit of variability between Schools
regarding the extent to which email is preferred over in person contact.

7. Which members of the School's administrative support services have you had
contact with?

                                                                                        % of respondents (excluding
                                                                                     respondents who said they had no
                                                   % of               % of          contact with School administrative
                                    Totals       responses         respondents                 support staff)
   Student Support Officers          571          19.43%             29.96%                       34.67%
     Teaching Office staff           699           23.79%            36.67%                       42.44%
  Subject/Course secretaries         1178          40.10%            61.80%                       71.52%
         Don't know                  183            6.23%             9.60%                       11.11%
            None                     259            8.82%            13.59%                       15.73%
           Other                      48            1.63%             2.52%                        2.91%

Note: Respondents were allowed to make multiple responses to this question.


Respondents most frequently cite ‘Subject / Course secretaries’ as the School
administrative support staff that they have had contact with, with ‘Teaching Office
staff’ and ‘Student Support Officers’ being cited about half as often.

There is a lot of variation between Schools in relation to this question. The proportion
of respondents who say they have had contact with ‘Student Support Officers’ varies
from 18% to 21% (in the case of two Schools) to about 50% (in the case of two


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others). Similarly, the proportion citing ‘Teaching Office Staff’ ranges from 24% to
62%, and for ‘Subject / Course Secretaries’ from 27% to 72%. In part these
differences will reflect actual differences between Schools in administrative
arrangements (for example the extent to which teaching support is centralised in a
single ‘Teaching Office’ rather than dispersed across subject areas with separate
administrative support staff). It may also reflect differences in terminology between
Schools for staff undertaking equivalent roles.

8. Please indicate to what extent you agree or disagree with the following
statements about the support provided by administrative support staff such as
Student Support Officers, Teaching Office staff, Subject / Course Secretaries:

        8.a. The support I needed was readily accessible

                                           % (Excluding ‘Not Applicable’
                                            responses, and with separate
                                               ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’
                        Totals      %         subcategories collapsed)
   Definitely agree      523      27.44%
                                                      83.47%
    Mostly agree         876      45.96%
  Neither agree nor                                   10.02%
       disagree           168      8.81%
   Mostly disagree        81       4.25%
                                                       6.50%
  Definitely disagree     28       1.47%
   Not applicable         230     12.07%               N/A
        Totals           1906    100.00%             100.00%


        8.b. I found the staff to be approachable and willing to help

                                           % (Excluding ‘Not Applicable’
                                            responses, and with separate
                                               ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’
                        Totals      %         subcategories collapsed)
   Definitely agree      695      36.46%
                                                      84.87%
    Mostly agree         730      38.30%
  Neither agree nor                                    9.29%
       disagree           156      8.18%
   Mostly disagree        70       3.67%
                                                       5.84%
  Definitely disagree     28       1.47%
   Not applicable         227     11.91%               N/A
        Totals           1906    100.00%             100.00%


        8.c. My query was answered promptly

                                           % (Excluding ‘Not Applicable’
                                            responses, and with separate
                                               ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’
                        Totals     %          subcategories collapsed)
   Definitely agree      586     30.75%
                                                      81.88%
    Mostly agree         779     40.87%
  Neither agree nor                                   10.74%
       disagree          179       9.39%
   Mostly disagree       83        4.35%
                                                      7.38%
  Definitely disagree    40        2.10%
   Not applicable        239      12.54%               N/A
        Totals          1906     100.00%             100.00%




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         8.d. My query was answered clearly

                                            % (Excluding ‘Not Applicable’
                                             responses, and with separate
                                                ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’
                         Totals     %          subcategories collapsed)
    Definitely agree      599     31.43%
                                                       81.80%
     Mostly agree         763     40.03%
   Neither agree nor                                   11.17%
        disagree          186       9.76%
    Mostly disagree       82        4.30%
                                                       7.03%
   Definitely disagree    35        1.84%
    Not applicable        241      12.64%               N/A
         Totals          1906     100.00%             100.00%


         8.e. My query was answered adequately

                                            % (Excluding ‘Not Applicable’
                                             responses, and with separate
                                                ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’
                         Totals     %          subcategories collapsed)
    Definitely agree      604     31.69%
                                                       82.51%
     Mostly agree         769     40.35%
   Neither agree nor                                   11.36%
        disagree          189       9.92%
    Mostly disagree       62        3.25%
                                                       6.13%
   Definitely disagree    40        2.10%
    Not applicable        242      12.70%               N/A
         Totals          1906     100.00%             100.00%


         8.f. My overall experience was positive

                                            % (Excluding ‘Not Applicable’
                                             responses, and with separate
                                                ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’
                         Totals     %          subcategories collapsed)
    Definitely agree      637     33.42%
                                                       82.00%
     Mostly agree         739     38.77%
   Neither agree nor                                   11.50%
        disagree          193      10.13%
    Mostly disagree       73        3.83%
                                                       6.50%
   Definitely disagree    36        1.89%
    Not applicable        228      11.96%               N/A
         Totals          1906     100.00%             100.00%


In general, respondents indicated that they are satisfied with the administrative
support arrangements. In responses to 8.f, 82% respondents agreed that their overall
experience was positive, and only 6.5% disagreed. Respondents are particularly
satisfied with the approachability and willingness of staff to help (8.b), with almost
85% of respondents responding positively to that question. The proportion of
respondents expressing dissatisfaction in relation to this set of questions is relatively
low (6%-7%), and those expressing strong dissatisfaction is very low (about 1.5% to
2.5%). Nevertheless, these negative responses, when considered in conjunction with
the free text comments (see 9 below), may point to opportunities to improve these
administrative services.




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While there is some variation between Schools, it is within a relatively narrow range.
For example, in relation to the question about overall experience (8.f), most Schools
have positive responses (‘Definitely agree’ or ‘Mostly agree’) in the range 81-85%,
with 76% the lowest response for a School, and negative responses in the range 3% to
9%.

9. Please add any further comments you would like to make about your experience
of administrative support services in the School.

About 180 students (about 9.5% of the total number of respondents) provided free-
text comments in response to this question. More than half of these free text
comments are positive regarding the administrative support in the School. The most
frequently-cited positive comments (listed in descending order of frequency) are:

   Approachable / friendly / helpful manner of support staff (by far the most
    frequently-made positive comment, with some individual staff singled out for
    extremely positive comments);

   Responses to queries are handled quickly; and

   Knowledgeable and appropriate responses.

Of the negative comments, the most frequently-cited issues (listed in descending order
of frequency) are:

   Impersonal / unfriendly / unapproachable manner of some support staff (this was
    the most common negative comment – approximately 20 respondents, about 1%
    of all respondents);

   Difficult to work out who to contact for support on particular issues;

   Response to queries are handled slowly, or in some specific cases not responded
    to at all; and

   Opening hours are not long enough (with particular reference to long lunch
    breaks).




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Section C: Directors of Studies

10. How frequently have you been in contact with your Director of Studies?

                                                                                 Totals          %
      Very often eg one or more times a week during one or both semesters         68           3.57%
              Quite often eg a few times over one or both semesters               382         20.04%
                   Occasionally eg once or twice over the year                   1201         63.01%
    Never (If you answer "Never", please ensure that in Questions 11 to 13 you
      answer "No Contact Has Taken Place" / "None" / "Not Applicable")            255          13.38%
                                     Totals                                      1906         100.00%


            10.a. If "Never", why is this so?

                                                                                 Totals         %
                            No need to make contact                               196         76.86%
                                     Other                                        59          23.14%


The majority of respondents (63%) say they have contact with their Director of
Studies ‘occasionally’ (defined as once or twice a year), with a minority (20%) saying
they have contact with their DoS ‘quite often’ (a few times over one or both
semesters), and a smaller minority (3.6%) saying that they have contact with their
DoS ‘very often’ (one or more times a week during one or both semesters). It is
possible that some of the respondents who say they have contact with their DoS ‘quite
often’ or ‘very often’ may not be distinguishing between having contact with a
particular member of academic staff in their capacity as DoS rather than in relation to
other teaching matters (for example, in their capacity as Course Organiser).

About 13% of respondents state that they ‘never’ have contact with their DoS. Where
respondents say they never had contact with their DoS, the vast majority (77%) say
that this is because they had no need to have contact. Of the other reasons given for
not having contact, the most frequent are:

      Difficulties in making contact with their DoS, either because they did not know
       how to contact them, or because the DoS had not responded to their
       communications;

      DoS has changed and they have not had contact with the current one;

      Their DoS had not got in touch with them;

      DoS perceived to be too busy to help or uninterested in supporting them, and as a
       result they did not try to contact their DoS;

      Decided to seek support from other academic or support staff who they already
       knew.

The pattern of contact between directees and Directors of Studies is broadly similar
across most Schools in CHSS, with the exception of two large Schools (ECA,
Education). In ECA, a higher than average proportion of respondents (12%) say they
have contact with their DoS ‘very often’, and a higher than average proportion (22%)


                                                                                                 13
                                                                                                      CHSS/P&R/59/11


say they ‘never’ have contact with their DoS. These results are likely to reflect the
fact that the DoS system was only introduced in Art, Design and Landscape
Architecture in the current session (as a result of merger) – meaning that some
students are likely to be less aware of the system or of the distinct role of the DoS
than students elsewhere in CHSS. In Education, about 25% of respondents state that
they ‘never’ see their Director of Studies. It may be relevant that for many of the
programmes in these Schools, there is typically less need for students to contact their
DoSs for advice regarding course choices because of the prescribed nature of the
curriculum.

Excluding ECA and Education, about 67% of respondents say they have contact with
their Director of Studies ‘occasionally’ (defined as once or twice a year), and 20% say
they have contact with their DoS ‘quite often’, with only about 2% having contact
‘very often’, and about 10% indicating that they ‘never’ have contact.

11. Which of the following needs were the subject of your contact with your
Director of Studies?

                                                                                                                      % of respondents
                                                                                                                         (excluding
                                                                                Total                                 respondents who
                                                                              number of    % of all      % of         say they have not
                                                                              responses   responses   respondents       had contact)
                      Advice regarding course choices                            977       24.58%       51.26%             58.89%
                     General academic advice / support                           658       16.55%       34.52%             39.66%
  Discussion of difficulties with academic performance or progression (eg
                                failed courses)                                  221       5.56%        11.59%             13.32%
  Discussion of how you are progressing with your programme of studies
  (irrespective of whether you are experiencing any specific difficulties)       419       10.54%       21.98%             25.26%
                        Discussion of career plans                               106        2.67%        5.56%              6.39%
                      Request for academic reference                             205        5.16%       10.76%             12.36%
                    Degree Programme transfer options                            272        6.84%       14.27%             16.40%
               Request for extension to coursework deadline                      177        4.45%        9.29%             10.67%
    Special Circumstances (ie. a formal report of Circumstances for the
                 consideration of the Board of Examiners)                        256       6.44%        13.43%             15.43%
 Informal request for advice on a health / personal matter affecting your
                                 studies                                         254       6.39%        13.33%             15.31%
                       No contact has taken place                                247       6.21%        12.96%              N/A
                                  Other                                          183       4.60%         9.60%             11.03%

Note: Respondents were allowed to make multiple responses to this question.


The three most commonly cited reasons for students having contact with their DoSs
are relevant to most students, irrespective of their personal circumstances or academic
progress: advice regarding course choice (59% of respondents who say they have had
contact with their DoS), general academic advice / support (about 40%), and
discussion of progression with studies (irrespective of whether they are experiencing
any specific difficulties) (25%).

Quite a lot of respondents also cite issues associated with personal circumstances as
subjects of contact with their DoS: preparing a special circumstances report for a
Board of Examiners (15%); and informal request for advice on a health / personal
matter (15%). They also quite frequently cite degree programme transfer options
(16%) and discussion of difficulties with academic performance and progression



                                                                                                                 14
                                                                                            CHSS/P&R/59/11


(13%). Relatively few respondents (about 6%) say that they discuss their career plans
with their DoS.

In general, these patterns of contact are similar across all Schools in CHSS. There are
however also some notable differences. There is considerable variation between
Schools regarding the proportion of students citing discussion of progression with the
programme of studies (irrespective of whether you are experiencing any specific
difficulties) as a reason for meeting their DoS. The proportion of students citing this
ranges from 12%-20% in four large Schools, up to 39% and 54%. There are also some
differences in patterns of contact which appear to reflect differing degree programme
structures. In the Schools in CHSS whose programmes allow less course choice
within the curriculum, a lower proportion of students cite advice regarding course
choices. Similarly, in those schools whose degree programme structures limit the
scope for students to change degree programme, degree programme transfer options is
not frequently cited as a reason to have contact with their DoS.

12. Which type(s) of contact have you had with your Director of Studies?

                                                                                                                   % of all
                                                                      Total                                      respondents
                                                                     number                                    (Excluding those
                                                                        of       % of all      % of             who said they
                                                                    responses   responses   respondents         had no contact
                                Telephone                               70        2.28%        3.67%                4.19%
                                  Email                               1351       43.92%       70.88%               80.95%
                                In person                             1418       46.10%       74.40%               84.96%
                                  None                                 237        7.70%       12.43%                 N/A


Respondents most commonly say that they have contact with their DoS in person
(85% of those who said they had contact), and email (81%). This contrasts with the
patterns of contact with School administrative support staff (see Q6), in which email
contact is more common than in person contact. Contact between students and their
DoSs by telephone is extremely uncommon (about 4 % of respondents who had
contact cited this). There is relatively little variability between Schools in CHSS in
relation to these patterns of contact, though in three Schools it appears that email is
used slightly more frequently than in person contact.

13. Please indicate to what extent you agree or disagree with the following
statements about the support provided by your Director of Studies:

        13.a. It was easy to get the advice / support I needed

                                                          % (Excluding ‘Not Applicable’
                                                           responses, and with separate
                                                              ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’
                                       Totals       %        subcategories collapsed)
        Definitely agree                666      34.94%
                                                                     74.99%
         Mostly agree                   587      30.80%
   Neither agree nor disagree           211      11.07%              12.63%
        Mostly disagree                 121       6.35%
                                                                     12.39%
       Definitely disagree              86        4.51%
         Not applicable                 235      12.33%               N/A
             Totals                    1906     100.00%             100.00%




                                                                                                          15
                                                                                CHSS/P&R/59/11


     13.b. I found my DoS approachable and willing to help

                                                % (Excluding ‘Not Applicable’
                                                 responses, and with separate
                                                    ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’
                             Totals       %        subcategories collapsed)
     Definitely agree         841      44.12%
                                                           77.13%
      Mostly agree            464      24.34%
Neither agree nor disagree    189       9.92%              11.17%
     Mostly disagree          107       5.61%
                                                           11.70%
    Definitely disagree       91        4.77%
      Not applicable          214      11.23%               N/A
          Totals             1906     100.00%             100.00%




     13.c. My query was answered promptly

                                                % (Excluding ‘Not Applicable’
                                                 responses, and with separate
                                                    ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’
                             Totals       %        subcategories collapsed)
     Definitely agree         683      35.83%
                                                           75.90%
      Mostly agree            558      29.28%
Neither agree nor disagree    211      11.07%              12.91%
     Mostly disagree          94        4.93%
                                                           11.19%
    Definitely disagree       89        4.67%
      Not applicable          271      14.22%               N/A
          Totals             1906     100.00%             100.00%


     13.d. My query was answered clearly

                                                % (Excluding ‘Not Applicable’
                                                 responses, and with separate
                                                    ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’
                             Totals       %        subcategories collapsed)
     Definitely agree         686      35.99%
                                                           75.32%
      Mostly agree            547      28.70%
Neither agree nor disagree    214      11.23%              13.07%
     Mostly disagree          111       5.82%
                                                           11.61%
    Definitely disagree       79        4.14%
      Not applicable          269      14.11%               N/A
          Totals             1906     100.00%             100.00%


     13.e. My query was answered adequately

                                                % (Excluding ‘Not Applicable’
                                                 responses, and with separate
                                                    ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’
                             Totals      %         subcategories collapsed)
     Definitely agree         685     35.94%
                                                           75.03%
      Mostly agree            544     28.54%
Neither agree nor disagree    219     11.49%               13.37%
     Mostly disagree          112      5.88%
                                                           11.60%
    Definitely disagree       78       4.09%
      Not applicable          268     14.06%                N/A
          Totals             1906      100%               100.00%




                                                                                      16
                                                                                   CHSS/P&R/59/11


        13.f. My overall experience was positive

                                                   % (Excluding ‘Not Applicable’
                                                    responses, and with separate
                                                       ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’
                                Totals       %        subcategories collapsed)
        Definitely agree         744      39.03%
                                                              73.69%
         Mostly agree            505      26.50%
   Neither agree nor disagree    207      10.86%              12.21%
        Mostly disagree          133       6.98%
                                                              14.10%
       Definitely disagree       106       5.56%
         Not applicable          211      11.07%               N/A
             Totals             1906     100.00%             100.00%


In general, respondents indicate that they are satisfied with the support of their DoS.
In responses to 13.f, excluding those for whom for whom the question was ‘not
applicable’, about 74% respondents ‘definitely agreed’ or ‘mostly agreed’ that their
overall experience was positive. Respondents are particularly satisfied with the
approachability and willingness of DoSs to help (13.b), with 77% of respondents
responding positively to that question, of which the majority ‘definitely agreed’ that
their DoS was approachable and willing to help.

While these results are generally positive, about 14% disagree with the statement that
‘my overall experience was positive’ (question 13.f). The survey results do not
however point to particular reasons for dissatisfaction, with the % of respondents who
‘mostly disagree’ or ‘definitely disagree’ relatively similar across sub-questions 13a
to 13e. These satisfaction rates for DoSs are lower than for the support provided by
Schools’ administrative support staff (see question 8). A chi square analysis confirms
that significantly more students agreed that their overall experience was positive for
contact with administrative support staff than for contact with DoSs (2 = 55.11, df =
2, p < 0.001). In other words, it is extremely unlikely that the differences in
respondents’ expressed levels of satisfaction for DoS and administrative support staff
is a result of random change.

While all Schools have a broadly similar profile of responses to these questions, there
is some evidence of variation in terms of satisfaction with DoS support. Positive
responses to 13.f range from 68% to 78%, and negative responses range from 9% to
19% (with Schools most commonly in the range 12% to 16%). There is also
considerable variation between Schools regarding the proportion of positive responses
that are ‘Definitely agree’ rather than ‘Mostly agree’. In general, the Business School
has the highest proportion of satisfied responses to the Q13 set of questions, though
Law has the highest proportion of responses in the ‘Definitely Agree’ subcategory
across these questions.

14. Please add any further comments that you would like to make about your
experience of your Director of Studies.

About 400 students (about 21% of all respondents) provided free text comments in
response to this question. About one third of these respondents were positive
regarding the support provided by DoSs, with some respondents highlighting
exceptional contributions of individual members of staff. The most frequently cited
positive comments (listed in descending order of frequency) are:


                                                                                         17
                                                                              CHSS/P&R/59/11



   DoS is friendly / approachable / supportive;

   DoS provided good advice and support;

   DoSs were contactable and prompt in responding to queries.

About two thirds of respondents either pointed to weaknesses in current DoS support
or suggested ways in which the system could be developed. The most frequently cited
points (listed in descending order of frequency) are:

   Directees would like more contact with DoS (about 45 respondents, about 2% of
    all respondents);

   Delays in DoSs responding to communications (in some cases not responding at
    all);

   DoSs not approachable / perceived to be too busy to help / perceived not to be
    interested in providing support ;

   A directee’s DoS has changed multiple times during his / her academic career (in
    some cases, lessening the quality or availability of support);

   DoS has not provided adequate advice (eg due to not understanding the
    curriculum, policies, or procedures);

   Respondent not clear what the role of the DoS is or why it is needed;

   Perceived variability in nature and quality of support between individual DoSs (in
    some cases students whose DoS has changed have perceived a difference, in other
    cases they say they are aware of differences between the support they are getting
    and the support their peers are getting);

   DoS is based in a different discipline area to the directee and is not well equipped
    to advise on the directee’s programme of study.




                                                                                      18
                                                                                         CHSS/P&R/59/11


Section D: Overall Experience and Priorities for Improvement

15. Thinking about your overall experience of academic and pastoral support in the
School, please indicate to what extent you agree or disagree with the following
statements:

        15.a. I have received sufficient advice and support with my studies

                                                 % (Excluding ‘Not Applicable’ responses, and
                                                     with separate ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’
                              Totals       %               subcategories collapsed)
      Definitely agree         387      20.30%
                                                                   69.32%
       Mostly agree            917      48.11%
 Neither agree nor disagree    324      17.00%                     17.22%
      Mostly disagree          191      10.02%
                                                                   13.45%
     Definitely disagree       62        3.25%
       Not applicable          25        1.31%                      N/A
           Totals             1906     100.00%                    100.00%


        15.b. I have been able to contact staff when I needed to

                                                 % (Excluding ‘Not Applicable’ responses, and
                                                     with separate ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’
                              Totals       %               subcategories collapsed)
      Definitely agree         647      33.95%
                                                                   84.33%
       Mostly agree            935      49.06%
 Neither agree nor disagree    189       9.92%                     10.07%
      Mostly disagree          86        4.51%
                                                                    5.60%
     Definitely disagree       19        1.00%
       Not applicable          30        1.57%                      N/A
           Totals             1906     100.00%                    100.00%


        15.c. Good advice was available when I needed to make study choices

                                                 % (Excluding ‘Not Applicable’ responses, and
                                                     with separate ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’
                              Totals       %               subcategories collapsed)
      Definitely agree         430      22.56%
                                                                   63.33%
       Mostly agree            720      37.78%
 Neither agree nor disagree    382      20.04%                     21.04%
      Mostly disagree          209      10.97%
                                                                   15.64%
     Definitely disagree       75        3.93%
       Not applicable          90        4.72%                      N/A
           Totals             1906     100.00%                    100.00%


        15.d. I feel part of an academic community

                                                 % (Excluding ‘Not Applicable’ responses, and
                                                     with separate ‘Agree’ and ‘Disagree’
                              Totals       %               subcategories collapsed)
      Definitely agree         358      18.78%
       Mostly agree            607      31.85%                     51.09%
 Neither agree nor disagree    515      27.02%                     27.26%
      Mostly disagree          285      14.95%
     Definitely disagree       124       6.51%                     21.65%
       Not applicable          17        0.89%                      N/A
           Totals             1906     100.00%                    100.00%




                                                                                                19
                                                                               CHSS/P&R/59/11



In general, the majority of respondents are satisfied with the academic and pastoral
support provided by their School (as covered by questions 15.a to 15.c). Respondents
are particularly satisfied with the ability to contact staff when they needed to - 84% of
respondents ‘definitely agree’ or ‘mostly agree’ to this question, and less than 6%
‘mostly disagree’ or ‘definitely disagree’. This implies that, while quite a lot of the
free-text comments for Questions 14 and 17 highlight problems with contacting
Directors of Studies, those problems are associated with only a small minority of staff
and students (though, understandably, those individuals would want to highlight the
problem). Respondents are less satisfied with the availability of good advice when
they need to make study choices (though satisfaction rates are still reasonably high).

There is relatively little variation between Schools in responses to 15.a (I have
received sufficient advice and support with my studies), and 15.b (I have been able to
contact staff when I needed to). There is however some variation between Schools in
CHSS in relation to 15.c (Good advice was available when I needed to make study
choices). For that question, while the majority of Schools have positive responses
(‘Definitely agree’, ‘Mostly agree’, excluding ‘Not applicable’ responses,) in the
range of 60% to 67%, one School (Business School) has achieved 70%, and one
medium sized School only has 55%.

There is statistically significant variation between responses to these questions
depending on the respondent’s year of programme. For Q15a (I have received
sufficient advice and support with my studies), responses from year one students are
most positive (75%), responses from year two students are significantly less positive
at 68% (2 = 7.47, df = 2, p < 0.05), and responses from year three students are
slightly less positive still (65%) but not significantly so. Similarly, for Q15c (Good
advice was available when I needed to make study choices), responses are more
positive from respondents in year one (69% positive responses) than in years two and
three (60% and61%), and negative responses are progressively higher in each year
(11% for year one, 16% in year two, 20% in year three), with the difference in pattern
of responses between years one and two being statistically significant (2 = 10.75, df
= 2, p < 0.01) . For Q15b (I have been able to contact staff when I needed to), the
percentage of positive responses was high and similar across years (85% for year one,
84% in years two and three. Nevertheless, there was a significant difference in pattern
of response between year two and year three students (2 = 7.59, df = 2, p < 0.05),
which seems to relate to year three students being more likely than year two students
to give negative responses (8% versus 5%) and less likely than year two students to
give neutral responses (8% versus 12%)

Questions 15.a to 15.c are also included within the National Student Survey (which
covers students in the final year of undergraduate programmes of study). In the 2011
NSS, students in CHSS provided responses to these questions broadly in line with
those provided by students in 2012 in response to the CHSS survey of academic and
pastoral support. That is, across the College, students indicate that they are relatively
satisfied about the ability to contact staff when necessary, whereas they are less
satisfied in response to the statements ‘I have received sufficient advice and support
with my studies’ and ‘Good advice was available when I needed to make study
choices’.



                                                                                        20
                                                                             CHSS/P&R/59/11


Responses to Question 15.d are substantially less positive than responses to Questions
15a to 15c. While about 51% of respondents agree with the statement ‘I feel part of an
academic community’, about 22% disagree. There is also considerable variation
between Schools in relation to this question, with positive responses ranging from
58% (Business School) and 57% (Education) to 41% and 36%, and negative
responses ranging from 16% (Business School) and 17% (Education) to 29% and
31%. The responses to Q15.d also vary by year of programme. While about 59% of
respondents in year 1 of their programme of study have responded positively to the
question, this declines to 50% for year 2 and 45% for year 3 respondents.

16. Thinking about your experience overall, which particular aspects of your
School's current system of academic and pastoral support do you think are working
best?

About 600 respondents (about 32% of all survey respondents) provided free text
responses to this question. The following (listed in descending order of frequency) are
the aspects of the system most frequently highlighted as working well:

   Schools’ administrative staff (with Student Support Officers and Course
    Secretaries mentioned equally frequently, and some references to administrative
    structures such as Teaching Offices and Receptions);

   Directors of Studies;

   Approachability and helpfulness of academic staff other than Directors of Studies
    (with particular reference to Course Organisers and Tutors);

   Email communication with staff (with many commenting on how promptly staff
    respond to emails);

   Tutorials and seminars;

   Office hours for Directors of Studies;

   Support is available if you need it;

   University student support services (with particular reference to the International
    Office and the Student Disability Service);

   The system as a whole.

17. Thinking about your experience overall, which particular aspects of your
School's current system of academic and pastoral support do you think could be
improved?

About 660 respondents (about 35% of all survey respondents) provided free text
responses to this question. Roughly half of the comments related to Directors of
Studies. The most popular suggestions about improving the DoS support (listed in
descending order of frequency) are:



                                                                                      21
                                                                            CHSS/P&R/59/11


   Increase the frequency of meetings between DoSs and directees, with one meeting
    per semester the most common suggestion (though some respondents suggested
    one meeting per year, and some suggested a higher frequency than one per
    semester – as much as one per month), and make meetings compulsory (about 85
    respondents, about 4% of all respondents);

   More personalised relationship with DoS (points made under this category
    included: DoS should know who their directee is; DoS should be more friendly
    and approachable; DoS should show more interest in directees) (about 45
    respondents, about 2% of all respondents);

   Better advice and information on course choices (including outside courses)
    (about 20 respondents, about 1% of all respondents);

   Have the same DoS throughout the programme of study;

   DoSs should respond more quickly to emails;

   DoSs should be proactive in keeping in touch with directees (eg check-in with
    them by email monthly) to find out how things are going;

   It should be easier to make an appointment with the DoS (eg regular office hours,
    sign-up sheets);

   Schools should not assign all academic staff to the DoS role (eg academic staff
    should only do the role if they want to, some academic staff may not have the
    necessary qualities for the role).

Other than comments about DoSs, the most frequent suggestions (listed in descending
order of frequency) are:

   Improve feedback on assessment;

   Create more of a sense of an academic community for students (In response to this
    question most suggestions were for Schools to run social events such as lunches,
    talks, Christmas parties etc. In response to Q18, several respondents also pointed
    to the value of social spaces within Schools);

   Provide clearer definition of the academic and pastoral support system (including
    the specific role of the Director of Studies), so people know where to go for
    support;

   Run more peer support schemes (eg academic families);

   Longer office opening hours for School teaching administration;

   Some SSOs / Subject Secretaries could be more friendly and customer-oriented.




                                                                                      22
                                                                          CHSS/P&R/59/11


18. Please use this space if you wish to give any further feedback, either expanding
on your answers to previous questions or commenting on any other issues
regarding the academic and pastoral support provided by your School.

About 180 respondents (about 9.5 % of all survey respondents) provided free text
response to this question. Many of the respondents make general comments regarding
the academic and pastoral system, or their programme of study and School more
generally. These general comments are predominantly positive. Many respondents
also comment on specific issues, in most cases issues also raised by respondents in
Q16 and Q17 (so they are not separately summarised here.)




                                                                                  23

				
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