Representative student feedback: the route to high response rates


  • Fenna Boerkamp Teaching & Learning Academy



Teaching & Learning Academy are undertaking a project to gain an in-depth understanding of how module leaders facilitate student engagement with online module evaluation surveys. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have been dealing with low(er) response rates ever since the shift from paper-based surveys to online evaluations (Nulty, 2008). When few students respond to course evaluation surveys, the student population is underrepresented, and the results potentially biased. This threatens the validity of the student feedback, thus making it difficult to interpret results and improve course quality (Wiley, 2019). It is, therefore, crucial to uncover good practices leading to high response rates to online course evaluations.

Smith and Morris (2011) suggested that a response rate of at least 50% or higher is needed to derive meaningful insights from surveys. Following their guidelines, 23 out of 2300 LJMU modules consistently achieving response rates higher than 50% across three years (20-21, 21-22, and Semester 1 in 22-23) were selected. Of the 23 that met the criteria, nine modules with an equal distribution of study levels and from different faculties were put forward for further analysis. Module leaders were contacted for a semi-structured interview to share their approach to collecting representative student feedback. Preliminary results indicate that a number of factors influence the response rates achieved, including module leaders stressing the value of representative student feedback, and strong teacher-student relationships. Interviews are currently being analysed, using inductive coding. The qualitative data collected from the interviews will likely be complemented by quantitative data from a survey designed for course representatives (subject to their engagement with a quick poll). The presentation will explore the findings in more detail; including general recommendations and how the results, in line with LJMU’s new strategy, can be used to ultimately enhance education (quality) and student experience.


Nulty, D. D. (2008). The adequacy of response rates to online and paper surveys: what can be done? Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 33(3), 301-314.

Wiley, C. (2019). Standardised module evaluation surveys in UK higher education: Establishing students’ perspectives. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 61, 55-65.

Representative student feedback: the route to high response rates PowerPoint. Only LJMU Staff and Students have access to this resource.