Insights from our 2022/23 Student Survey

Emily Coyte
October 31, 2023

At LearnSci we value the student voice. After last year’s successful pilot, our Student Insights Survey returned for 2022/23. Seeking student feedback is particularly valuable for us as it informs future developments and facilitates our mission of enabling students to develop the skills needed to make our world a better place.

Survey design

Ethical approval was obtained from the University of Warwick and the survey was designed to be concise yet meaningful, with some questions tailored and improved after last year’s results. All responses were anonymous and students were only asked about resources that they’d used.

The survey was open between September 2022 and May 2023, and staff at participating universities were free to administer the survey whenever was convenient for their teaching within this timeframe.

In total, 530 students took part in the survey, from 14 departments across 13 institutions in the UK, New Zealand and Australia. The majority of students were in Year 1, with Year 2 being the next most common.

530 students in survey

LearnSci resources continue to be highly rated among students

When asked how much they would recommend LabSims and Smart Worksheets to other students on a similar course, participants rated both resources a median of 8.0 out of 10. This indicates that students find them to be useful and enjoyable learning experiences.

LabSim and Smart Worksheet ratings were both 8.0/10.

Students felt positively about different aspects of LabSims and Smart Worksheets, agreeing that:

LabSims help students…

Understand the reasoning behind practical steps (80% agree), feel less anxious about doing practical science (78%), engage in the practical elements of their course (74%),work safely (78%).

Smart Worksheets…

Provide effective feedback that helps them learn better (70% agree), support development of their data handling and analysis skills (78%), help them quickly correct mistakes and misunderstandings using rapid feedback (78%), help them identify their own strengths and weak points in their learning (74%).

As well as rating the resources, students left written feedback which offered further insights into their answers:

No items found.

LabSims benefit students lacking in confidence

Students were asked about their confidence levels regarding practical sessions and numeracy before they started university. Perceived confidence levels were lower for practical skills compared to numerical skills, and students who reported having additional learning needs reported significantly lower levels of numerical confidence.

Interestingly, those students who reported low practical confidence rated LabSims most highly. This association between confidence level and LabSim recommendation rating was found to be statistically significant (Kendall’s tau, p = 0.030), and suggests that LabSims have the greatest impact on reducing anxiety for students with the greatest need.

LabSims were also recommended more highly by students who re-use them. Just over half (52%) of the students used LabSims multiple times; this association suggests that these students are strongly benefitting from doing so, rather than repeating due to confusion or struggling to extract information.

Image of the 'Loading and running an agarose gel' LabSim.
Resources such as the Loading and Running an Agarose Gel LabSim help students understand correct techniques and equipment setup.

Smart Worksheets support students in a wide variety of ways

Smart Worksheets are versatile tools with wide application potential within a given course. Students were asked about the ways they would like Smart Worksheets to support their studies. They could select more than one option, and the results showed a mixed spread of requests, indicating that students are aware of the uses of Smart Worksheets, and how they can support learning and assessment. 

Using Smart Worksheets for assessments is well suited for bespoke custom worksheets made by our team, for a wide range of practical sessions. The Smart Worksheet Collection supports more formative learning, revision and preparation for lab practicals. For numeracy and maths support, our Quantitative Skills Smart Worksheets were created with IBMS to support biomedical students’ confidence surrounding numerical skills - but we are considering adaptation to different disciplines.

A horizontal bar chart showing data from the question ‘In which areas would you like Smart Worksheets to support your studies?’.   The highest rated response was  ‘As laboratory or fieldwork assessments, with ’as revision resources’ and ‘as preparation for laboratory practicals’ also highly rated. The lowest rated answer was  ‘I would not like to use them at all’ .

What’s next?

We’d like to thank all the students and educators from the 13 institutions worldwide who took part in the survey. The results and insights help us create the best resources possible for your students, and the valuable feedback has provided us with an idea of where we’re excelling and where to focus future efforts for further improvements. 

We are continuing to offer the Student Insights Survey on an ad-hoc basis, using existing questions or with modifications based on your areas of interest. These surveys can be used however you like: to ensure LearnSci resources are meeting student needs, or as part of an educational research project. Contact if you’re interested.