1. An Investigation into ‘Good Practice’: Students’ and Lecturers’ Perspectives on the National Student Survey Questions 1-4

Project Lead(s): Diana Bannister & Zeta Brown

Universities throughout the world are undertaking benchmarking exercises, in which they compare themselves to other universities on appropriate indices in order to establish their current levels of performance and to initiate continuous self-improvement.  To fit this purpose, in the UK, the annual National Student Survey (NSS) was introduced in 2005 and completed by the graduating student body of all publicly funded higher education institutions and by some private institutions. 

The project aims to identify areas of good practice in courses which tend to score highly within the specified area of questioning, by means of Appreciative Inquiry (AI).  The objective of the research is to identify any areas of good practice in high scoring courses that may be effectively incorporated into courses across the university, thus increasing the level of satisfaction in line with the question posed. 

The data will be gathered from six focus groups across the identified courses.  The research team will work with staff and students to collate the data.  This will form a set of recommendations to inform future teaching and learning.

The intended impact is to increase knowledge of areas of good practice, to disseminate this knowledge and in doing so to potentially impact the scores of courses where questions 1 to 4 do not score well. The potential impact will be an increase in student satisfaction in the specified section of the NSS by August 2017

2. Capturing Mature Students – How flexible pedagogies/capture technologies support progression for mature students between levels 4 & 5.

Project Lead: Gemma Witton

One of the University’s strategic priorities is to increase progression between levels 4 and 5 for mature students by 5% by October 2017.

Evidence collected during the evaluation of the 2014/15 Capture Technologies pilot project suggests that students value the flexibility afforded to them by captured content (e.g. live streamed and recorded lectures highlighted as beneficial to their studies). In response to the question “How have capture technologies helped you in your studies?” free text comments included examples of students with work and family commitments who might otherwise have missed out on engaging with learning content and activities that were delivered purely on campus. Given that mature students are more likely to have such responsibilities in addition to their studies then flexible pedagogies (such as using capture technologies) may have a positive impact on the progression of mature students. 

Building on the initial hypothesis, this project will evaluate student perceptions on aspects of course delivery that have supported or hindered their study and progression from level 4 – 5. The research question is “To what extent do flexible pedagogies (such as capture technologies) support the progression of mature students from level 4 to 5”.

Activity for the project will include establishing the current institutional position for the progression rates of mature students and identifying any particularly affected age groups. From there a small sample of mature students will be interviewed about their general experiences of university and the teaching approaches that have helped or hindered their success. A thematic analysis will be developed from the available data, and where appropriate recommendations for best practice in supporting mature students will be made.  

3. Employability, employment and progression at UoW: A study of the effectiveness of current UoW employability initiatives and how these have contributed to graduate employment of FoSS and FSE students or graduates.

Project Lead(s): Khechara, M. P., Hawkins, R. A., Broad, R. and Smith. S

Student Graduate and Post Graduate Research Associates: Mason, Z., Goodwin, A., Silverio, M. and Eze, J. C.

The University of Wolverhampton (UoW) provides students with initiatives which enhance employability. The study reported here was developed to explore priority number five of the Vice-Chancellor’s Strategic Excellence Initiative (VCSEI); ‘What impact have the employability and Work Based Learning (WBL) initiatives (across the university) had on student employment and/or their promotion?’

This project, utilised a mixed methods approach framed within a socially constructivist framework and used quantitative and qualitative analysis of data obtained from electronic questionnaires and a series of semi-structured interviews which employed cognitive interviewing and Q-methodology techniques to address the research questions set.

Analysis of questionnaire data suggested that older students use the employability services more and that ethnicity has no effect. Individuals are aware of initiatives such as the Work Place and Careers Services but are less clear about opportunities for work placements on their course. Analysis of free text suggests that students and alumni see differences in what is important for employability with adaptability and flexibility being important to graduates but not current students. Interestingly, although students said that that the various services were useful they mentioned that these might not always be relevant and that they were unsure how to access them. Initial data from interviews suggest that there is lack of understanding as to what employability actually is and perceptions over inadequate access and appropriateness for international students may be important. Full Thematic analysis of the data is currently underway and will be discussed further in the final report.


4. An investigation of the extent to which formative use of text-matching software such as Turnitin may help reduce plagiarism by students both in the UK and overseas.

Project Team: Carol Bailey, Lee Crofts, Mark groves, Phil Harris, Samia Mahmood, Kate Moseley, Subashini Suresh, Margaret Walsh

This project addresses the University’s strategic priority to reduce the incidence of academic misconduct by international students.

Academic misconduct is a growing problem for universities across the world. In Anglo-western institutions, international students are disproportionately likely to commit academic misconduct due partly to differences in their previous study background and, in some cases, a lack of fluency in written English. The challenge is particularly acute for students directly entering top-up or Masters degrees, since they are expected to perform at the same level as students who are already familiar with UKHE assessment methods.

Because a high number of international students at the University of Wolverhampton study outside the UK, we are focussing on an intervention that can be applied equally with UK-based and TNE cohorts. Our project seeks to determine whether allowing students formative access to Turnitin can help reduce levels of inadvertent plagiarism, and what other factors impact on this.

Our mixed-method approach involves:

  • A descriptive analysis of quantitative data for six representative modules over the period 2011/2 to 2015/6, including number of plagiarism cases and number of students who accessed Turnitin as a % of module registrations.
  • A qualitative analysis of interviews with the six module leaders, with the aim of finding what other factors may have caused the incidence of plagiarism to vary over the period in question.

Our goal is to identify initiatives and examples of good practice in promoting academic integrity which can be implemented throughout the University and disseminated externally.