Using Evidence for Enhancement

Since October, STEER colleagues have been designing and delivering a series of webinars commissioned for QAA Scotland.  These sessions aimed to discuss the current Enhancement Theme which debates the use of ‘evidence for enhancement’.  The national programme of Enhancement Themes, led by the Scottish Higher Education Enhancement Committee (SHEEC) and managed by QAA Scotland, aims to improve the student experience of those studying within the Scottish higher education sector.  The language of enhancement within this sector is distinct, and a subtle shift from the measurement/metric discourse which often dominates the English HE context.

These sessions drew directly on practice from within Hallam, alongside core principles of delivery. They took a critical approach to evidence gathering, analysis and reporting, whilst presenting case studies which aim to explore alternative methods, types of evidence and build data confidence.

These recorded webinars, and accompanying resources, would be of use to staff and students across the sector who are working as institutional researchers/evaluators or in roles which involve evidence based decision making.  The details of each recorded session, and links to the accompanying ‘how to’ resources are below:


Capturing Student and Staff Voices – Dr Liz Austen

This webinar explored the scope, principles and practices of engaging student and staff voices within higher education. It began with a discussion about the scale and type of current methods and a plea to consider more innovative, inclusive and empowering approaches. There was a specific focus on the use of digital storytelling for engaging staff and students along with suggestions for integrating student and staff voices within methodologies. The webinar also highlighted the ethical considerations within this type of work.

Just enough? Why we need to question our assumptions about evidence – Stella Jones-Devitt and Alan Donnelly

This webinar explored the use of evidence to drive improvement in educational practice. This topic has progressed in recent years, yet the idea of evidence-informed practice remains unclear and controversial. This webinar debated the nature of evidence and the role of methodology in educational decision-making, with particular focus on credibility. The presenters also discussed the promises and pitfalls of hierarchies of evidence, and the effectiveness of using unreliable data to capture unintended consequences.


Gathering together: working alongside students in an evidence-critical environment – Dr Jill LeBihan

This webinar drew on experience of recruiting and working with students as leaders, peer educators and researchers, using evidence to inform their applied projects. We also looked at the evidence for the impact these sorts of activities have on students’ experience and academic success.


Data Delving: Engaging Staff in Student Experience Data – Nathaniel Pickering

This webinar discussed the challenges of exploring and reporting data within institutions.  Issues in data confidence were discussed alongside strategies for developing positive relationships with institutional data.  Two case studies were presented which included appreciative inquiry for NSS analysis and the use of fictionalised data sets.


These resources have drawn on strategies adopted by STEER over a number of years, with many of the examples (e.g. Class of 2020, Appreciative Inquiry for NSS analysis) drawn from the creative direction of our Head of Student Research and Evaluation, Stella Jones-Devitt.

Further webinars from other institutions will take place monthly until June 2019. Webinar recordings, presentations and resources will be published after each event. You can visit the QAA event section to view details and register for future webinars.

For more information about the use of these webinars within your own context, or how you could create your own, please contact Liz Austen:

Image courtesy of Pixabay