Is the ISSE a wasted opportunity? Part 2

I’m presuming you’ve read Part 1 so I’ll plough on with the next lot of questions.

Questions relating to student-faculty interaction

During the academic year about how often have you…

1 Talked about career plans with academic staff?

The fact that half of all students replied “never” was picked up by the media who made a big fuss about it. But really it’s hard to take any particular stance on this – there are too many variables including the quality of the careers office, the personality of the student, the personality of the lecturer (especially his/her approachability), the size of the class and the workload of the lecturer.

2 Worked with academic staff on activities other than coursework?

Surprise surprise , nearly two thirds of students answered “never”. What were the questioners expecting?

3 Discussed course topics, ideas or concepts with academic staff outside of class?

Over 40% of students replied “never” to this question but what does that convey? It’s interesting in a so-what kind of way. There are so many factors just like there were in the first question.

4 Discussed your performance with academic staff?

38% replied “never” to this question and 43% replied  “sometimes”. I’m not sure what to make of this question and the replies because it is not clear to me, and may not have been clear to the students, if short exchanges during oral feedback on a particular assignment counts as “discussing your performance”.

Questions relating to Quality of Interactions

At your institution, please indicate the quality of interactions with

  1. Students
  2. Academic advisors
  3. Academic Staff
  4. Support Staff
  5. Other Admin staff

I’m not sure who academic advisors are but apart from that the information yielded from this line of questioning was pretty uninteresting but the replies were broadly positive. The best interactions students have are, unsurprisingly, with each other. Here are the results – the seven columns represent the % answers on a seven point scale from poor to excellent.


My main issue here is that this section doesn’t delve into the tutor-tutee system that most institutions operate. Rather asking questions related to that system (how often do you meet?, who initiates contact?, where does the interaction take place?, how long does a typical interaction last?) the survey just asks one vague question around ‘quality’. That’s puzzling.

Questions relating to a supportive environment

How much does your institution emphasise…

1 Providing support to help students succeed academically

2 Using learning support services (e.g. maths learning centre)

3 Contact with students from different backgrounds?

4 Providing opportunities to be involved socially

5 Providing support for you overall wellbeing

6 Helping you manage your non-academic responsibilities

7 Attending campus activities (sport, cultural)

8 Attending campus events that address important social, economic, or political issues

A summary of the replies to these questions can be found below: the columns span the range from “very little” to “very much”. Not much can be gleaned from the data other than that most institutions are pretty supportive but you would worry that the line of questioning in this section is tantamount to asking about the extent to which the institutions have become  “nanny institutions” or even a therapeutic ones.


The last section of the survey involves a series of seemingly random questions – see page 24 of the survey document itself. I won’t go through them here because I’m beginning to lose the will to live. The replies to these questions are summarised below. They’re not very revealing and it’s not surprising that the media didn’t pick up on much in this year’s survey. For me, this last series of questions is the equivalent of asking a youngster “how was school today?” only to be answered with “grand”.


So having gone through all the survey questions I’m none the wiser really. I don’t have any real sense of what the big issues are, both for students and for the institutions. I’ll sum up in Part III.

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