STEER leads institutional research and evaluation and this page provides case studies of the work of STEER across Sheffield Hallam.


    Using Appreciative Inquiry as an evaluative approach to course enhancement

    In December 2021, STEER colleagues (Liz Austen and Alan Donnelly) and the Teaching and Learning Portfolio Lead in Art and Design (James Corazzo) came together to design an approach to course enhancement. The aim was to support the BA Fine Art course team in an exploration of what was currently outstanding about their course and how this was evidenced, and design changes through evidenced-informed decision making. STEER recommended the Appreciative Inquiry approach for this work as it provides a supportive environment to consider enhancement, design realistic actions and outcomes, and share good practice.


    ‘Using Appreciative Inquiry as an evaluative approach to course enhancement’ blog post

    Theory of Change

    Sheffield Hallam has committed to using and supporting the use of a Theory of Change to design interventions and underpin robust evaluation planning.  There are many examples of the Theory of Change work that has been developed and completed at Hallam, supported by resources developed by STEER.  Our capacity building has been distributed across professional services and academic areas and the student lifecycle, and has enabled conversations about evaluation to emerge in a variety of institutional spaces. These examples also include proposed large scale institutional change/culture change.


    ‘Everybody’s talking about…Theory of Change’ blog post

    Applying a video conferencing tool in cognitive interviews to improve a questionnaire used in higher education research

    This case study details a series of cognitive interviews (led by Alan Donnelly and Caroline Heaton) that were carried out with students, to examine their interpretations of, and responses to, items on an institution-wide questionnaire at Sheffield Hallam. Cognitive interviewing refers to a set of techniques used to assess the ways in which individuals mentally respond to survey questions, with the aim of exploring the accuracy and consistency of interpretations and, if necessary, making revisions. The research was conducted as part of a wider initiative to review the institution’s use of a standardised questionnaire to evaluate student module experiences. The case study describes how a face-to-face research activity was adapted for online delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic, in an attempt to engage students as co-designers. It considers the three key options for conducting cognitive interviews remotely (telephone, video conferencing, and web probing), and provides a critical reflection on the ethical and practical challenges and possibilities presented by using video conferencing as the preferred method.


    Becoming a survey whisperer: applying a video conferencing tool in cognitive interviews to improve a questionnaire used in higher education research (SAGE Research Methods)


    Evaluating the impact of higher education funding aimed to address student hardship

    In September 2021, STEER conducted an evaluation to understand the impact of institutional financial support provided to students who are under-represented in higher education or who are facing hardship. This evaluation implemented the validated financial support evaluation toolkit, which is recommended by the Office for Students, as the framework for this data collection and analysis. The survey tool, which was used in this current phase of the evaluation, contains closed and open-ended questions that explore what the funding has enabled its recipients to do and what might have not been possible otherwise. Recipients of the financial support reported that without this funding they would not only find it difficult to access the essential provisions of teaching and learning but also to be able to pay for basic living costs. Other key benefits reported by respondents were that the financial support enabled them to: concentrate on their university work, with the money helping many to pay for devices and IT equipment: continue with their studies; ease their anxieties and support their mental health. However, it is important to note that the low response rate limits the generalisations that can be made from the survey respondents to the wider population.


    Evaluating the impact of higher education funding aimed to address student hardship: Survey findings

    Evaluation of the Global Citizenship Portfolio

    In July 2020, STEER conducted an evaluation of the Global Citizenship Portfolio (GCP), which is a non-credit bearing module at Sheffield Hallam University that aims to support students to become ‘global citizens’. The GCP engages students in self-directed learning by combining: academic-run sessions; lectures; an intercultural experience which happens on campus, locally or abroad; and reflection. The evaluation was focused on the cohort of 78 students who started the module in October 2019 or January 2020 and completed it in May 2020. A mixed-methods project was conducted to provide quantitative and qualitative evidence from pre and post-module surveys and a sample of reflective journals. Analysis of the data indicated that the majority of participants in the evaluation have demonstrated evidence of acquiring intercultural competencies, regardless of whether they undertook an experience ‘at home’ or abroad. This will help these students to engage with different value systems, communicate effectively across cultures and understand how their actions and those of others have global consequences.


    Evaluation of the Global Citizenship Portfolio: detailed executive summary