This year marked the second time Student Quality Assessment of Academic Programme Management (SQAAPM) was conducted. The survey results provide insight into common and individual problem areas that need to be considered and addressed when appointing academic supervisors and programme managers. Read on to learn what students had to say.
From June 1–28, students of HSE – Moscow evaluated the overall performance of their academic programme management in terms of 12 criteria, and they evaluated the performance of individual programme office employees in terms of 3 criteria. Students also had the opportunity to write additional comments. Staff were assessed in each category on a 5-point scale.
More than 10,500 students—or about 35% of the student body—completed assessment surveys for their programmes. Students left 700 comments regarding their programme leadership, 496 comments regarding their programme managers, and 1,362 comments regarding individual programme office staff members.
Both in undergraduate and graduate programmes, it was administrative operations that were ranked most favourably: programme administrations were given an average rating of 4.58 with regard to their timeliness in processing document requests; 4.56 for their efficacy in arranging individual curricula; and 4.49 for the accessibility of programme managers and academic supervisors.
In terms of scheduling convenience (4.01), processing feedback from students regarding programme content (4.23), and student-teacher conflict mediation (4.32), the situation is slightly different: a certain share of students is more critical.
However, a side-by-side comparison of this year’s data with the data from the 2019-2020 academic year shows a general improvement in students’ satisfaction with how their academic programmes are run: programmes’ scores improved regarding the organization of online courses and course scheduling. In undergraduate programmes, scores for processing student feedback and the administration’s ability to keep students informed in a timely manner about additional aspects of university life improved over the year. At the same time, in HSE’s Master’s programmes, students’ rankings of their programmes’ ability to respond effectively to student-teacher conflicts or student personal matters have improved.
The programmes that have shown consistently high scores over the past two years are:
Public Administration (Bachelor’s programme)
Mathematics (Bachelor’s programme)
Private Law (Bachelor’s programme)
Philosophy (Bachelor’s programme)
Complex Social Analysis (Master’s programme)
Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytical Business Consulting (Master’s programme)
Business Informatics (Master’s programme)
Information Security Management(Master’s programme)
Computer Systems and Networks (Master’s programme)
Financial, Tax and Customs Law (Master’s programme)
Philosophical Anthropology (Master’s programme)
This year, the programmes earning the highest overall scores from students with regard to administrative quality include:
Political Science (Bachelor’s programme)
Joint Bachelor’s Programme with the Centre for Teaching Excellence (Bachelor’s programme)
Language and Literature of Iran (Bachelor’s programme)
Languages and Literature of Southeast Asia (Bachelor’s programme)
HSE/NES Programme in Economics (Bachelor’s programme)
Physics (Bachelor’s programme)
World Economy (Bachelor’s programme)
Applied Mathematics and Information Science (Bachelor’s programme)
Cyber Security (Bachelor’s programme)
Contemporary Philology in Literature Instruction at Secondary Schools (Master’s programme)
Management in Higher Education (Master’s programme)
Philosophy and History of Religion (Master’s programme)
Integrated Communications (Master’s programme)
System Programming (Master’s programme)
Financial Technologies and Data Analysis (Master’s programme)
Mathematics (Master’s programme)
Mathematics and Mathematical Physics (Master’s programme)
International Private Law and Commercial Arbitration (Master’s programme)
Public Law (Master’s programme)
Sports Law (Master’s programme)
Politics. Economics. Philosophy (Master’s programme)
Psychology in Business (Master’s programme)
Statistical Modelling and Actuarial Science (Master’s programme)
We talked to some programme managers and academic supervisors about how they use student assessment results to improve their programmes.
‘I think SQAAPM is an excellent mechanism for monitoring the quality of the work of the academic supervisor and programme office. I was very pleased to see that our programme received such high scores from the students, as well as to read their positive comments and notes of thanks to all the staff in the study office and me. It's always nice to know that your work and efforts are not in vain and that you are appreciated. The year turned out to be very difficult: first there was the accreditation, then the transition to online, so it was doubly pleasant to receive such high marks from our students for our work. My colleagues and I carefully read all the comments and those in which we saw criticism were used for further adjustment and improvement of our programme. One thing I would like to see in the future is a mechanism for getting a wider swath of students involved in the survey so that it is as representative as possible.’
‘For the Master's programme ‘Management in Higher Education’, student feedback is critical. MHE is a programme for university employees who combine study with work. MHE students come to HSE for short full-time modules several times a year, and the bulk of coursework is online and quite intensive. Students usually complete 2-3 group projects at a time. It is very important for us to know how the group work is going and what issues and problems students face. Therefore, we try to use several communication channels and give preference to human modes of communication. SQAAPM and other surveys are vital to our programme since they show us possible problems that we can discuss with teachers and students. We are grateful to our students for their active participation in the surveys on the quality of teaching and management of MHE.’
‘In the Applied Mathematics and Information Science programme, we have several channels for collecting feedback. Of course, Teaching Quality Assessment and SQAAPM are very important. We carefully review the scores and comments and try to promptly make changes based on them (sometimes by even replacing teachers), as well as adjust procedures with student involvement. We discuss the results of Teaching Quality Assessment surveys with the teachers and, if necessary, outline ways to improve the courses and teaching approaches. At the same time, these surveys are more likely to reflect a given academic year or a specific course, so we also try to communicate with students in the process. Firstly, these are small surveys 1-2 months after the beginning of each course, which help to catch problems in advance and try to correct problems as they arise. Secondly, we regularly meet with students over Zoom in order to discuss a variety of issues. Of course, this all significantly helps us better our programme, by identifying both problems and areas where we have improved.’
‘SQAAPM is an excellent tool that allows you to analyze your work and your relationships with your students, whose assessment is one of the most important performance indicators for an academic office employees and academic supervisor. Receiving a high score and positive comments provides motivation and incentive to develop further. At the same time, SQAAPM allows us to identify challenges and misunderstandings that have arisen between students, the academic office, and the academic supervisor. In this case, we were able to meet with students and solve problems that the student otherwise would have not mentioned. The survey helps to create and develop a positive atmosphere in the programme, develop new approaches, and revise or maintain established communication models.’
‘In our programme, we don’t have to wait for survey results in order to solve problematic issues that arise among students. Our doors are always open for students, and we try to resolve all issues as quickly as possible. Therefore, for me personally, SQAAPM is an opportunity to make sure that I am in the right place and doing everything right.’
The University plans to further develop mechanisms for collecting feedback from students about the educational process.
‘We have been using student surveys conducted by the Centre of Institutional Research for a long time in order to evaluate the work of programme offices. However, SQAAPM allows you to assess the quality of programme management as a whole, see the overall results, identify individual problem areas, and discuss them with employees. Personal assessments of programme office employees are considered in assessing the results of their work. We also consider the assessment results and comments from students when solving personnel issues. For example, an employee with low grades or a large number of negative comments from students will not be able to qualify for higher positions in the office. In some cases, we reevaluate whether an employee is indeed suitable for their position. We also work individually with programme managers whose assessment results are below average.
SQAAPM is a relatively new tool; for these two years we have conducted surveys of students only on the Moscow campus. But now we plan to expand it to other campuses in order to assess the University as a whole. We will invite colleagues, whose programmes show consistently high results, to collaborate in conducting master classes for other programme managers and supervisors.’
'The SQAAPM results tell us a lot about the quality of administrative operations of programme management, but they do not give us as full of a picture about a programme’s academics. The development of the project methodology in the future is likely to go in this direction. Now we are already starting to study foreign universities’ experiences with conducting university surveys about programme quality in general. Based on what we learn, we will prepare draft criteria for 2021 that will assess not only programmes’ administrative functions, but also, for example, the integrity and coherence of their content and curricula. I am sure that this information will be very useful to academic supervisors in addition to what they already receive from SQAAPM, Teaching Quality Assessment, and other surveys.’