James Cook University

Focus: Student experiences across JCU campuses        
Survey participants: 1210 students
Comments: 6594        
Campuses: Townsville Bebegu Yumba, Cairns Nguma-bada, JCU Brisbane, Mackay, Mount Isa Murupuni     

What we did
This research used an online survey consisting mostly of open-ended questions to collect data. While the survey was open, a group of 18 students participated in an experience mapping exercise, using ‘photo- voice’ to record their campus experience. Two survey promotion pop-up boards were also moved around Cairns and Townsville inviting students to leave feedback.

Participants included undergraduate, postgraduate coursework and PhD students. The open comments were analysed and presented thematically with examples of student quotes. This is the core pillar of presenting the student voice and formulating projects to solve issues. This approach allows for diverse opinions from the students to be heard and understood. 

What we found
This survey was conducted whilst the impacts of the pandemic were still top of mind. Foot traffic on the campus had reduced significantly. Like many suburban commuter campuses, online learning was competing with physical attendance. What was clear from the results was that a large proportion of students wanted to be back on campus, and that they gained more from in-person experiences. Students gave great insights into what was lacking, and how to improve existing spaces to make them more inviting.

What happens next
The results were presented to various strategic groups across the university. The findings have been used as the business case behind the development of several informal study space projects across the campus.

“The depth of student engagement we experienced from working with Dr Sam Hall is to be commended. The information gathered is high quality and very informative for JCU to plan and deliver more focused study spaces and bookable group areas for our return to campus life post-COVID. Her best in industry advice was well received and has given impetus to the Estate Development Planning resulting in a 3 year study hub programme based on her evidence”
Hilary Kavanagh, Director Estate, James Cook University