Students' suggestions for improving their vocational education and training experience

By Josie Misko, Suellen Priest Research report 21 December 2009 ISBN 978 1 921413 66 7 print; 978 1 921413 54 4 web


An analysis of student verbatim responses in the Student Outcome Survey provides suggestions for how the vocational education and training (VET) system could be improved. Eight major domains are discussed: course relevance and design; staff attributes and behaviours; teaching and learning practices; access to courses; facilities and services; assessment practices; learning resources; equipment and materials; initial information provision; and administration and learning support services.


About the research

The overall satisfaction of students with their training is used as a major indicator of the quality of training delivered in the vocational education and training (VET) system. It is derived from the Student Outcomes Survey, which has been run since the mid-1990s.

At the end of the survey respondents are asked for: Your suggestions for improvement—do you have any suggestions for improving the training shown on the front of the form? This information is fed back to the institutions that have provided the training. In this report, the authors provide the first national analysis of these verbatim suggestions.

They find that the bulk of the suggestions relate to eight domains:

  • course relevance and design
  • staff attributes and behaviours
  • teaching and learning practices
  • access to courses, facilities and services
  • assessment practices
  • learning resources, equipment and materials
  • initial information provision
  • administration and learning support services

While there is some crossover with the training questions in the Student Outcomes Survey, the suggestions are wider in their coverage. This raises the issue of whether we should think about broadening the Student Outcomes Survey questionnaire, noting that this would have resource implications. The authors raise the possibility of whether an automated tool along the lines of CeQuery, used in the higher education sector, could be built. Whatever the results of these considerations, we should not lose sight of the fact that the verbatim comments provide the colour that can never be achieved through standard closed survey questions.

Tom Karmel
Managing Director, NCVER


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