TASO are working with researchers from The Brilliant Club and the University of Cambridge on a project to review the existing survey scales used to measure common intermediate outcomes and design a multi-scale questionnaire that can be used across widening participation and student success teams. Identifying and designing validated survey scales is crucial to producing more robust evidence on what works in reducing inequality in higher education (HE).

The project will begin with a consultation with the sector and review of the existing scales used by higher education providers in the UK. The team will then identify which constructs and outcomes require new scales in order for the sector to be able to accurately measure them. They will then design, pilot and validate new scales for these constructs and produce guidance for the sector on how to design, pilot and validate survey scales.

“We are delighted to be working with researchers at The Brilliant Club and the University of Cambridge to help us deliver on our commitment to produce high quality evaluation guidance for use across the sector. One of our key aims at TASO is to upskill and provide resources for evaluators, to improve their ability to effectively measure widening participation and student access activities being undertaken at their institution. Developing a questionnaire that can be used to measure outcomes relevant to these activities is crucial to understanding what works in reducing inequality in HE. Bringing together the experience and expertise from both of these partners will bring this important piece of work to life and we are excited to see how the project develops.”

Rain Sherlock, Evaluation Manager and project lead at TASO

This project aims to further TASO’s goal of helping the sector produce more Type 3 evidence and understand which activities are most effective in widening participation and student success. It will build on the existing survey design and validation guidance currently available on our website.

The project partners were selected after an open call for partners. All applications were assessed by the TASO Research and Evaluation Team.

“Our Research and Impact team are delighted to be collaborating with TASO and researchers at the University of Cambridge on this important project. We know that intermediate outcomes play a significant role in supporting students to access university and to succeed when they get there. However, knowing how to measure these outcomes in a robust and meaningful way can be challenging – and often there are limited opportunities for benchmarking. This project aims to bridge this gap by bringing together research on existing scales with the views of key stakeholders. The end result will be a multi-scale questionnaire that can be used by the sector to evaluate widening participation and student access activities.”

Dr Lauren Bellaera, Chief Impact and Strategy Officer, The Brilliant Club

“Our team at the Faculty of Education are delighted to be working with colleagues at TASO and The Brilliant Club on this timely research, looking to provide the sector with a set of tools to capture the varied range of outcomes being immediately affected by outreach, widening participation and other fair access interventions. This is an important step towards improving the evidence base around what is effective in narrowing inequalities in higher education access and participation. We’re particularly looking forward to understanding the views of a wide range of stakeholders, so that the newly developed tools serve their purposes and accurately reflect the experiences of learners.”

Sonia Ilie, Assistant Professor, University of Cambridge

Phase one of the project has now commenced. As part of phase two, we will be conducting a rapid consultation with the sector to better understand the intermediate outcomes, and corresponding survey scales, commonly used. If you’re interested in participating in this consultation, please email research@taso.org.uk with ‘survey validation consultation’ in the email subject.

The final phase of the project is expected to be completed by October 2022.