As today is Valentine’s Day, this seems like a suitable time to post this:

I’m not divorced. So therefore, I am an excellent husband, and I have a very satisfied wife.

Now, my wife might be kicking and screaming that I have my faults as a husband, but she is kept busy looking after the kids. I can list some of the things I do to make her happy:

  • Hold down a job that pays the bills, mortgage and keeps us comfortable
  • Provided (50% of the DNA for) two beautiful children
  • Carry shopping bags – I am really good at carrying things
  • Let her watch her TV in peace by going out cycling or to another room
  • Make cakes
  • Go to the shop when it is raining to get her sweets
  • Catch and remove spiders/insects
  • Do the bins
  • Telling the kids off

I know, I am pretty awesome at husbanding.

However, despite my awesomeness, just doing those things does not make me a great husband. I am sure that if she ever read this post, she would be able to list a hundred other things I could do that would make her happier. She mentioned something about listening, but…

Measuring satisfaction

If we take the blunt instrument of ‘still married to’ as a measure, then I am successful, and she must, therefore, be satisfied.

It is the same for student satisfaction: the blunt instruments we use are the NSS or HESA data. Just because a student completes and mainly ticks satisfied on the NSS, does that mean they are having the best possible learning experience? Does that mean they are a successful student? Do they still love and honour their educational experience? Is a satisfied or employed graduate actually the purpose of higher education?

Any measure of satisfaction can only be a proxy for the ‘real’.

A lot of research has gone into finding better proxies; for example, the NSS has a number of new questions this year, and the DLHE survey is being replaced with the NewDLHE or LEO or LOL or whatever it is called.

However, all these improvements give us is better proxies, and what is more, they cannot give us the whole picture. Yes, we can triangulate survey data with Learning Gain project information, or even using Learner Analytics to give us a better idea.

But it won’t get us to the objective truth.

So, while my wife gave me a lovely card and present for Valentine’s Day, and not a nice letter from a solicitor, I am probably not safe to assume that she is completely satisfied.

Whatever the ‘measure’, I can probably always improve and create a better experience for her.

Now, do they still sell flowers at petrol stations…?

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