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From Student Satisfaction to Impact: Approaching Impact Evaluation in the Context of Methodological Constraints


This study investigated the impact of Queensland University of Technology (QUT) student engagement with co-curricular services in 2020. With limited institutional data, it is often not possible to gauge the cumulative impact of all retention and teaching activities, and while any one support activity cannot carry the weight of improving student outcomes, it is important to consider the impact of each as a contributing factor. We asked ourselves: How exactly do we determine how students’ connection to services is impacting learning? How do they connect to wider university expectations such as widening participation initiatives or retention activities? And how do we use evaluative strategies productively to mature our service design so that we can move beyond “satisfaction” to “impact”? Despite methodological constraints, converging lines of evidence indicate that engagement with services in 2020 had a small, but statistically significant, positive impact on grade point average (GPA), progression, and retention.

Published: 2022-07-06
Pages:51 to 58
Section:Practice Reports
How to Cite
Leece, R., Rueckert, C., & Madden, D. (2022). From Student Satisfaction to Impact: Approaching Impact Evaluation in the Context of Methodological Constraints. Student Success, 13(2), 51-58.

Author Biographies

Queensland University of Technology
Australia Australia

Rhonda Leece is currently Strategic Lead, Student Retention, Evaluation and Reporting, Student Success Group, QUT. Rhonda has over two decades of experience in designing, developing and implementing programs and projects which support student successes in higher education. She has undertaken research in student engagement and retention at an institutional and sector level with a focus on evidence-based practices. She has a Research Masters in Organisational Leadership and has a passion for improving the student experience.

Queensland University of Technology
Australia Australia

Caroline Rueckert is Director, Student Success at QUT. She has over 15 years’ experience in student engagement, student support, and employability, having worked across Australia and Canada to deliver whole-of-university transformational solutions to the complex challenges of 21st century learning and teaching. Inclusive partnership and “relationship-rich rich education” (Felten and Lambert, 2020) are at the core of Caroline’s practice and she is particularly passionate about learner-centred pedagogies that engage students and staff as partners in learning and teaching. Prior to commencing at QUT, Caroline served as the inaugural Program Director for First Year Initiatives at the University of British Columbia, Canada. Caroline’s research focuses on conceptions of care in higher education and on how universities might adopt more relational approaches to supporting student success and engagement.

Queensland University of Technology
Australia Australia

Dr Daniel Madden is Coordinator, Reporting and Evaluation, Student Success Group. Daniel has extensive experience in research methodology design, evaluation, and statistical analyses. He has collaborated on various analytics projects in higher education and has a background teaching in psychology, with a PhD in Experimental Clinical Neuropsychology.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795