When Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT) decided to develop a new process for module surveys, they knew that the ultimate goal would be to enhance teaching and learning delivery across the whole institution.
With this in mind, the LYIT team embarked on a project that examined every aspect of the student and staff relationship with module evaluation.
The trouble with data
While acquiring feedback from learners on completed modules has always been a priority at LYIT, data capture systems varied significantly across the institution, with different schools and lecturers using different systems and processes to obtain module evaluation data from students.
Verbal, anecdotal feedback, handwritten paper questionnaires, electronic questionnaires, open-ended questions, scaled questions and a range of other means used meant that comparing like for like was challenging; and a holistic view across the institution just wasn’t possible.
A central focus
The team at LYIT decided that they needed to hear the student voice more effectively. They wanted a centralised process, delivering a consistent survey that would create efficiency and improve the student experience.
More than that, LYIT took the view that, to enhance teaching and learning delivery consistently across all programmes, there was a requirement to aggregate the data acquired to enable a top-down, institution-wide approach to improvement.
Digitising the entire process would be the route to success; making it simpler for students, staff and faculty to access and use a robust, centralised system, minimise survey fatigue, improve response rates and close the student feedback loop.
Key steps to success
How best to digitise the process and improve response rates for module evaluation? Find a survey and evaluation provider that could easily integrate with the institutional VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). This way, surveys would be accessed through a tool already familiar to both students and faculty, instantly reducing reticence to try something new and putting evaluation front and centre on a platform frequently accessed by the student body.
And this is where EvaSys came in. With existing experience of smoothly integrating with LYIT’s VLE, Blackboard, an in-depth understanding of the challenges faced by higher education professionals and a solution designed explicitly to facilitate quantitative and qualitative surveys, EvaSys ran a successful pilot for LYIT that resulted in a full implementation institution-wide.
Not just a software provider, the EvaSys team offer guidance and advice on how best to approach and implement survey and evaluation software, and all the associated business and cultural processes that wrap around it. As a huge proponent of customers leaning on vendors for the help they need to get to go live, EvaSys supports clients such as LYIT with three key steps to success prior to project kick-off:
With these three initial steps achieved, LYIT was in good shape to start the implementation process, hand in hand with the team at EvaSys.
High level priorities for project delivery
The scope of the LYIT online module survey project was wide ranging, however, the team honed in on the high-level priorities that had to be delivered:
All of the key priorities were readily available within the EvaSys solution, and the team worked with LYIT to provide consultative services and training that ensured the technology operated exactly as LYIT required.
Collaborating to pave the way to success
The minutia of managing the implementation of a new solution for an existing process can be overwhelming, but working in partnership with your vendor will ease the burden and tap into years of experience in delivering similar projects to organisations just like yours.
LYIT did just that, harnessing the expertise of the in-house team at EvaSys to provide guidance and advice on approach. The two teams collaborated on almost every aspect of the project, with a particular focus on best practice from across the higher education sector.
As a result of the collaboration, LYIT made changes to current process that included:
Fully engaged; students, faculty and staff
LYIT has revolutionised its approach to module evaluation, with a completely digital process that is centralised and consistent across the whole institution.
Ease of access through LYIT’s VLE has improved engagement and response rates and made the process simpler for academic staff. Real time feedback to lecturers provides actionable insights throughout the module, ensures that learners remain engaged and identifies any students who may be at risk – either academically or in their wellbeing.
Module leaders, Heads of Department, Faculty Heads and institutional management teams have aggregated reports that provide data across programmes, schools and the entire institution. This data provides a holistic view that can be mined to make improvements to teaching and learning for students in the now – and in the future.
The next phase is to truly close the feedback loop, and LYIT is progressing this through a pilot.