The peril of students' appraisal 1

July 4, 2003

Poor response rates are not the only problem with the planned annual student satisfaction survey ("Just 10 students may blight careers", THES, June ). The wording and scoring cast severe doubt on the validity of the responses.

For example, one item reads: "For most of the course, the workload was too heavy." Students are then invited to record their agreement or disagreement on a five-point scale. While a score of 1 (agree strongly) would indeed indicate that the workload was perceived to be too heavy, a score of 5 (disagree strongly) could either mean that the workload was perceived to be "just right" or that it was perceived to be too light, which is equally undesirable. If this is a survey that is proposed to be posted annually to all 350,000 graduating students, we should be very concerned indeed.

Adamantios Diamantopoulos
Chair of marketing and business research
Loughborough University Business School

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