Research Paper: London School of Economics and Political Science

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¶ … London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is a public research university that specializes in the social sciences and is part of the federal University of London. Founded in 1895 by Sidney and Beatrice Webb and George Bernard Shaw, the LSE is one of the world's most selective universities, possessing the most international student body in the world.

The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise found the LSE to demonstrate the highest percentage of world-leading research of any British university.

Many personalities have emerged from the LSE. These include notables in the fields of economics, business, literature, and politics; 16 Noble prize winners (including Bertrand Russell, Ralph Bunche, GB Shaw, and John Hicks); 34 world leaders (including the Queen of Denmark and JF Kennedy (USA)); Pulitzer Prize winners; and fellows of the British Academy.

In this paper, a research questionnaire is designed in order to assess whether students are satisfied with the services that the LSE provides, and manners in how it can improve its service. In particular, the company wishes to know if its customers are dissatisfied with current services and, if so, the nature of this dissatisfaction. In order to craft this survey, eight other studies of various questionnaires, used on other cohorts in a variety of university environments, were reviewed, and their methods critically assessed in order to test application to the LSE.

Review of 8 Survey Designs In order to Assess Relevance to Research.

What I liked about Rhodes and Nevil's (2004) survey of student satisfaction and dissatisfaction was that it was based on an informal 10 member focus group that was extracted from the university itself (and represented its differences in gender, ethnicity, age, and entry qualifications), and the items were then built into a questionnaire that was disseminated to the chosen cohort. The items represented both internal and external issues.

The advantage with such a survey is that the small focus group -- allegedly representing the university as a whole -- feels comfortable enough to divulge institutional areas that may lead to student satisfaction and dissatisfaction. These items are then tested by passing them off on the student body as a whole. This type of survey, thereby, solves at least three limitations that are presented by the traditional Likert questionnaire: the first is that students are ordinarily merely required to check various items: but what do these checks mean? Secondly, the survey might have unwittingly omitted significant issues that only the students themselves are aware of and that could be brought into the open in an informal group-think environment, and thirdly, students filling out the questionnaire might do so reluctantly, dishonestly, or half-heartedly causing response outcome to be unreliable. My main question on Rhodes and Nevil's (2004) survey was their inclusion of external items (such as "who or what influenced to attend university" and the "main reason for accepting a place at the university"); I failed to see the relevance of these facets to the survey's objective.

Elliott and Shin's (2002) objective was to present educational institutions with an alternative approach to measuring student's overall satisfaction. I understood their rationale, but not being mathematically inclined I was little taken with their method. On the other hand, I can understand how a mathematically disposed director or faculty would be tempted by their program. Elliott and Shin (2002) correctly pointed out that the traditional survey employs a simple 'yes' or no format that even though this type of question is simple to answer and analyze, it does not enable students to thoroughly reflect on their responses nor may it "accurately reflect what educational attributes students consider critically important to their overall satisfaction or how they perceive the performance of each attribute," and when asked to reflect on their overall state of satisfaction with the university, students may simply rely upon a few remembered attributes. Elliott and Shin (2002), therefore, proposed a weighted gap score analysis approach. The advantages with this approach are that it may have more diagnostic value to both academics and practitioners. On the other hand it makes the survey more complex to assess (and possibly too for students to complete).

Douglas, Douglas, and Barnes (2003) used a service-product bundle to design their survey questionnaire (in regards to Liverpool John Morres University). The service-product bundle refers to goods and services that are intertwined: the physical or facilitating goods (which in a university setting refers to items such as lectures and tutorials); the sensual service provided (i.e. The knowledge levels of staff, staff teaching ability and so forth); and the psychological service the includes the treatment of students by staff, availability of staff, and capability and competence of staff. The whole package, Douglas, Douglas, and Barnes (2003) maintain, has to be considered when constructing a survey The advantage here is that the service-product bundle targets all areas (tangible and intangible) that are involved in the university life. The concept seems logical to me, and I cannot see any disadvantages to its use.

In a questionnaire that the LSE itself conducted, in the 1993-94 academic year, surveying its students' opinions on teachers, a normal Likert scale was used (Husbands, 1997). However, a number of background questions about the student completing it were added. In that particular survey, the questions might have been warranted. I doubt that their inclusion would be necessary in a questionnaire structured to assess student's satisfaction with the LSE itself.

In 2006, Eon, Wen, and Ashil proposed structural equation modeling for examining the determinants of students' satisfaction with perceived learning outcomes in the context of university online courses. I like the originality of the approach. As Eon, Wen, and Ashil point out, structural equation modeling is particularly suited to theory building and testing, which could be relevant to a university wishing to test its areas of needed improvement and wishing to generate ideas on how to improve itself. Its disadvantages, however, are similar to those represented by Elliott and Shin's (2002) research. The faculty has to have the time and patience and, most importantly, the mathematical know how in order to conduct such a complex study and analysis.

Observing the various survey methodologies used to assess satisfaction with a particular institution, Ansari and Moseley (2010), insisted that the Likert scale is insufficient in conceptualizing student's satisfaction response, and they suggested a summary measure that either uses a simple count variable or a sum variable to assess points. Summary measures should be used in order to tease out the 'hidden' information in the data. Whilst I see their point in the observation that many surveys, by being too complex, confound 'hidden' information, I wonder, too, whether their recommendations of employing summary measures would ferret out the student's underlying intention.

The National UK Student Survey questionnaire used mean scores to report its satisfaction levels (Surridge, 2008. Its benefits are that this is a straightforward and direct approach. On the other hand, it tends to overlook potentially important points that the university needs to consider.

In the U.S.A., Choi and Johnson (2007) employed a sum summary to quantify college students' satisfaction based on 5-point Likert scales. This it seems to me, although different in approach, shares similar advantages and disadvantages to the survey designed by Surridge (2008)

Sampling strategy, research methods that I intend to apply, and rationale for that method and sampling.

The cohort will be an LSE first-year group that had experienced student life for approximately 6 months prior to the study. This makes the group still fresh -- hence somewhat objective -- to university life. The method will model the survey approach taken by Rhodes and Nevil (2004) in that a small group of approximately 15 members representative of the student body as a whole will meet in an informal setting where discussion will be unobtrusively elicited on student's satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the university offerings and its environment. These items will then be extended in a formal questionnaire to this first year group and, if follow-up or verification is desired, to the university as a whole. Obviously, LSE here provides an advantage with its extraordinarily diverse group and care will be taken that a representative member of each country reflecting diverse cultures and an equal mix of genders would constitute the sample.

A further idea would be to draw up two kinds of surveys: one for the students, another for the staff (with the same methodology outlined for the staff: namely the focus group in an informal setting succeeded by the distribution of the survey itself to staff as a whole. It would be intriguing, too, to distribute a similar survey that was disseminated to students to alumni who are a year old. The fact that they have experienced a year's transition from university might bestow them with a more detached perspective on the happenings and offerings of the university than those who are its current students. Additional questions here would include items such as whether they found their studies helpful in career direction; how their studies could have been more… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Research Paper:

APA Format

London School of Economics and Political Science.  (2010, October 26).  Retrieved December 8, 2019, from

MLA Format

"London School of Economics and Political Science."  26 October 2010.  Web.  8 December 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"London School of Economics and Political Science."  October 26, 2010.  Accessed December 8, 2019.