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This report outlines the findings of analysis of NSS data undertaken by Ipsos MORI to investigate whether students are fully considering their responses. The report was undertaken in response to the findings of HEFCE’s analysis of NSS data trends ('UK review of the provision of information about higher education: National Student Survey results and trends analysis 2005-2013', HEFCE 2014/13) which identified the possible presence of ‘yea-saying’ in the NSS. This is a survey phenomenon whereby students provide the same response for every question. The report was carried to understand whether there was evidence from the way students responded to the NSS that ‘yea-sayers’ were disengaged – that is, not fully considering their responses.

Ipsos MORI considered a number of aspects: the time taken to complete the survey, the method of completing the survey, completion of additional and optional questions, time taken to complete the survey and the use of the open-ended comments. They conclude that their evidence shows not all ‘yea-sayers’ demonstrate signs of being disengaged. The report provides suggested techniques for minimising yea-saying.

This research report is one of a series of reports published alongside the consultation on the review of information about learning and teaching and the student experience. The views expressed in this report do not necessarily represent those of the funding bodies.


Date: 1 October 2015

Ref: Independent research