StudentSurvey.ie is rooted in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which is affiliated with the University of Indiana in the United States of America. Ireland is not the only country to have adapted the NSSE survey. The research includes comparisons of Irish results with results from Australia, Chile, China, South Korea, South Africa, USA, Canada and the UK, all countries which have adapted the NSSE survey and use it extensively.

These data have been shared by the editors of Global Student Engagement (Coates, Gao, Guo & Shi, 2022), a book which examines student engagement activities in a number of jurisdictions, including a chapter on the Irish context. One of the chapters examines results from a specific set of questions from the NSSE survey shared across jurisdictions. A subset of those results are presented below. You can read more about each of these surveys and their relevance for StudentSurvey.ie in the StudentSurvey.ie International Comparators Factsheet HERE.


The results are presented as a mean score/ average score for responses to the individual questions. The mean score is calculated as follows:

  1. Each individual student’s response option is given a score. For example: Very Little = 1, Some = 2, Quite A Bit = 3, Very Much = 4.
  2. The mean score for a group of students, for example all students in Ireland, is calculated by adding all of the individual scores (ranging from 1 to 4) together and dividing by the number of students to calculate a mean score.

Other parts of this research have provided the results as indicators scores, or as a percentage of students who responded to each of the response options for individual questions, so please be aware of this shift in score type when examining the international results presented here.

The following limitations are noted:

  • The available results are mean scores for each country in a given year. In the absence of the raw data, the scope for statistical analysis is limited. Consideration of these results is therefore limited to examination of the descriptive results and what they can reveal about the results for StudentSurvey.ie compared to other countries.
  • The results are for all students, regardless of stage of study or mode of study.
  • The data were collated in 2019 and therefore do not contain results for 2020 or 2021.
  • Finally, there are some gaps in the collated data because not all countries used all of the questions deemed viable for comparison.
  • Not all questions included in NSSE are used by all NSSE-rooted surveys. Thus, in selecting the questions for inclusion in the international analysis, the authors selected the questions deemed most viable for comparison on the basis of their use and mutual interpretation in multiple countries. The following sections draw on the results of four of these questions to consider how the results of StudentSurvey.ie from 2016 to 2019 compare with results on the same questions in a broad range of international contexts.

The Australasian Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE) was discontinued in 2013, and many overlapping questions are now asked in the University Experience Survey (UES). The UES focuses on aspects of the student experience that are measurable, linked with learning and development outcomes, and for which universities can reasonably be assumed to have responsibility (Radloff, Coates, Taylor, James, & Krause, 2013; Radloff, Coates, James, & Krause, 2012). The survey yields results that are related to outcomes across differing institutional contexts, disciplinary contexts and modes of study (e.g. distance, mature age, part-time students).

Development and implementation of StudentSurvey.ie is driven by an agenda of quality enhancement, i.e., to encourage exploration of institutional data, sometimes in the context of data from similar institutions and nationally, in order to inform discussion and planning to improve the experiences of students. The comprehensive nature of StudentSurvey.ie is regarded as a key strength as it enables utilisation of the data by various organisational units and to serve differing perspectives. The enhancement focus is an intrinsic part of the initiative and project partners do not support the use of student engagement results for any overly simplistic purpose that could be perceived as ranking institutions. Participating institutions and project partners, including the HEA and QQI, fully support the enhancement focus and take care to utilise data in a manner that supports this objective.


Collaborative Learning

During the current academic year, about how often have you worked with other students on course projects or assignments?

Click here for results

Screenshot of interactive dashboard displaying the results for the question related to Collaborative Learning. Follow the link to access the information contained in the dashboard.
International comparisons 1 - Collaborative Learning

Effective Teaching Practices

During the current school year, to what extent have your instructors provided feedback on a draft or work in progress?

Click here for the results

Screenshot of interactive dashboard displaying the results for the question related to Effective Teaching Practices. Follow the link to access the information contained in the dashboard.
International comparisons 2 - Effective Teaching Practices

Student-Faculty Interaction

During the current academic year, about how often have you discussed course topics, ideas, or concepts with a faculty member outside of class?

Click here for the results

Screenshot of interactive dashboard displaying the results for the question related to Student-Faculty Interaction. Follow the link to access the information contained in the dashboard.
International comparisons 3 - Student-Faculty Interaction

Overall experience

How would you evaluate your entire educational experience at this institution?

Click here for the results

Screenshot of interactive dashboard displaying the results for the question related to Overall experience. Follow the link to access the information contained in the dashboard.
International comparisons 4 - Overall experience

Discussion

Background 

StudentSurvey.ie is rooted in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which is affiliated with the University of Indiana in the United States of America. Ireland is not the only country to have adapted the NSSE survey. The current research includes comparisons of Irish results with results from Australia, Chile, China, South Korea, South Africa, USA, Canada and the UK, all countries which have adapted the NSSE survey and use it extensively. The mean scores for each county used to make these comparisons are drawn from Coates, Gao, Guo and Shi (2022). In the absence of the raw data, the scope for statistical analyses was limited and the analysis was contained to examination of differences in the descriptive results. Nevertheless, this examination of high-level results for other countries provides international context to the national results for Ireland, which was valuable.


Results internationally

In the context of these countries, it became less surprising that the mean score for respondents in Ireland for questions such as “During the current academic year, about how often have you worked with other students on course projects or assignments?” and “During the current academic year, about how often have you discussed course topics, ideas, or concepts with a faculty member outside of class?” did not change from 2016 to 2019. Several other countries with reasonably comparable higher education systems (with regard to the experience of students) also showed steady scores for these questions over the same timeframe. The mean scores for respondents in Ireland appeared to fall around the middle of the range, but the results did not align with any one individual country for all questions examined as responses varied from question to question and country to country. 


Limitations of the results

Consideration of the international comparator data was limited to examination of the descriptive results due to the available data being limited to mean scores for each county in a given year. This is acknowledged as a limitation of the present research. Furthermore, the data were for all students, regardless of stage of study or mode of study. Finally, there were some gaps in the collated data because not all countries used all of the questions deemed viable for comparison. 


Other relevant research and future research

One are of other relevant research and future research includes investigating the experiences of internationally domiciled and Irish domiciled students in this context is essential to ensuring students continue to be offered the best experience possible.

Nic Fhlannchadha, Trench Bowles & Frawley, 2021 investigated the experience of internationally domiciled students by examining StudentSurvey.ie results for 2016 and 2020. The results demonstrated consistently greater engagement among internationally domiciled respondents than Irish domiciled respondents across time and across the elements of student engagement investigated in the survey. This paper concluded that higher education institutions in Ireland are delivering an educational experience to internationally domiciled students of comparable quality to that experienced by Irish domiciled students.

Guigui, Faas, Darmody & Nic Fhlannchadha (under review) explored the factors which influence the engagement of PGR students, drawing on results from PGR StudentSurvey.ie 2019 and interviews conducted with PGR students in 2021. The results indicated that the needs of Irish and international postgraduate research students differed, with financial burden and disparity between perceived and subjective language proficiencies emerging as the most influential factors on time allocated to engagement for international PGR students.

Such investigations offer rich opportunities to harness the experiences of internationally domiciled students in building higher education institutions which are innovative, flexible and highly globally interconnected in spite of the restrictions brought about by the pandemic.


Do you have questions?

Contact the StudentSurvey.ie Project Manager at info@studentsurvey.ie or using any of the social media channels listed here.