Implications for bachelor of nursing programs when using student experience survey findings as an indicator of course quality

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Morgan Smith
Saras Henderson
Laurie Grealish


student experience, satisfaction, nursing, course evaluation


Objective: To discuss the implications of using student experience surveys to improve the quality of teaching and learning within bachelor of nursing programs in Australia. Background: Australia’s recent independent review of nursing education suggests that not all graduates are sufficiently prepared for their registered nurse role, indicating problems with program quality. Student experience surveys are widely used in course development processes. Discussion: A reliance on student experience survey findings for course development may contribute to course changes based on student satisfaction that place overall graduate capability at risk. Because student experience surveys have design limitations, satisfaction only partially aligns with learning and learning outcomes, and students’ subjective beliefs about self, nursing and learning potentially influence their survey responses, the exclusive use of student experience surveys in course development and teacher evaluations is contested. Conclusion: Using student experience survey findings as an indicator of course quality has unacknowledged implications for bachelor of nursing programs. Findings from student experience surveys should be situated within a context of other elements or factors when making curriculum decisions. Teacher and course evaluations based primarily on student satisfaction can have unintended consequences for course content, course delivery, student learning and learning outcomes and ultimately impact on the reputation of the university.

What is already known about the topic?

  • Student experience surveys are used widely in higher education in Australia.

  • Universities monitor student satisfaction as an indicator of course quality through student experience surveys.

What this paper adds:

  • The relationship between the characteristics of course quality and student satisfaction require further exploration in practice-focused programs such as nursing.

  • The governance of course quality using student experience as a primary indicator may unintentionally limit course development, catering to student preferences rather than focusing on learning experiences that are required for graduate capability.

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