Visualising the NSS data: Tools, Projects and Assessment

Activity: Talk or presentation for an academic audienceOral presentation for an academic audience


• To demonstrate some tools for visualising the national student survey data, and their relevance to students' future employment
• To explain how the 2020 data was used for paired project work for a Level 5 module, and to discuss how this dataset promoted reflection on learning and teaching
• To show some examples of students' work in response to this project
• To show how video feedback can be used to provide quick, detailed commentary on students' project work
• To discuss the challenges presented by collaborative work during lockdown.
Abstract: Digital Methods II is a compulsory Level 5 module for BA Digital Media. The module can be thought of broadly the equivalent of a quantitative methods module on a more research focussed programme, but this programme has a clear focus on developing the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for students to pursue careers in the field of digital media, whether through employment or through establishing their own freelance business. The module is structured around a sequence of ten case studies, each taking an open, public dataset as a starting point for developing students' understanding of relevant statistical concepts, fluency with appropriate digital tools, such as Excel pivot tables and charts and interactive visualisations in Tableau, skills in communicating statistical findings, and their general understanding of the topic area. Continuous assessment is through a portfolio of visualisations and commentaries using the University's CampusPress platform. This portfolio is supplemented by a paired project, in which students are provided with another dataset, distinct from the case studies covered in the module, providing an opportunity for them to apply the approaches covered during the module to analysing this and communicating their findings through creating a website.
This year, students were provided with the subject level data from the 2020 National Student Survey. This was a very motivating example, as all had views on how the quality of a degree programme or an institution might be assessed and seemed genuinely interested in the patterns across questions, subject groups and institutions, as well as exceptions and discrepancies in the overall trends. Many of their visualisations provided useful comparisons between questions, courses and institutions together with possible explanations for these.
Whilst there is much to be gained through working on a project such as this with a partner, the blended and hybrid delivery of the taught course as well as the imposition of a national lockdown made collaborative work more difficult than it would otherwise have been, but students were largely successful in finding ways to overcome such challenges themselves.
One further innovative aspect of this module was the use of video feedback, in which I recorded myself reviewing their websites, commenting on their data visualisations and other aspects of the submitted work.

Estimated audience numbers (if applicable)

Period16 Jun 2021
Event titleRoehampton Annual Festival of Teaching and Learning: Curriculum design in a time of change
Event typeConference
LocationLondon, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionLocal