Have higher student:staff ratios been bad for student satisfaction?

An implication in complaints about rising university student:staff ratios is that things are getting worse for students.

We don’t have any measures of student learning, the most important indicator, but we do have from the course experience questionnaire sent to all completing students a series of questions on satisfaction with teaching, which together form the ‘good teaching scale’ (GTS). These questions cover time spent commenting on work, helpfulness of feedback, whether students were motivated to do their best work, how good lecturers were at explaining things, whether lecturers worked hard to make their subjects interesting, and whether staff made an effort to understand difficulties students might be having.

Contrary to what we would expect if SSRs were a major teaching problem, all the GTS scores have improved steadily since 1997, though from a low base. In 1997 on average 39% of completing students gave a clearly satisfied rating to the teaching questions (ie the top two points on a five point scale). By 2009 this was up to 52%. Continue reading “Have higher student:staff ratios been bad for student satisfaction?”