National student feedback surveys in distance education: An investigation at the UK Open University

Ashby, Alison; Richardson, John T. E. and Woodley, Alan (2011). National student feedback surveys in distance education: An investigation at the UK Open University. Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning, 26(1) pp. 5–25.




National student feedback surveys are administered in a number of countries, and several encompass both campus-based and distance-learning students. The UK Open University achieves a high ranking in the annual National Student Survey (NSS), but there are some anomalies in the results. The NSS questionnaire was administered to three samples of students to explore the origins of these anomalies. The reliability and the validity of the questionnaire were satisfactory, but a substantial proportion of the respondents did not produce valid data. There was a high proportion of ‘not applicable’ responses to items concerned with learning resources and personal development. Other students responded ‘neither agree nor disagree’ to these items when ‘not applicable’ would have been more appropriate. This would have led to low rankings on these scales in the national surveys. Distance-learning institutions need to advise their students about the importance of only rating items they have actually experienced or to negotiate changes to the questionnaires themselves if they are to ensure that their activities and achievements are properly represented in national student feedback surveys.

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  • Item ORO ID
  • 24558
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • ISSN
  • 1469-9958
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2011 The Open University
  • Depositing User
  • John T. E. Richardson