Feasibility of considering students’ opinion essays in language course when developing a survey

Theory and Methods of Training and Education

The article analyzes feasibility of application of content analysis to opinion essays written by the students completing their upper-intermediate (B2) English course. The purpose of the study consisted in improving the quality of students’ feedback received from the participants of the annual quality assurance survey and enhancing the blended learning model utilized in the English classroom. The experiment conducted by a group of English instructors employed by ITMO University, Saint Petersburg, Russia. In the course of the experiment, ITMO University researchers tested a new approach to drafting surveys by subjecting students’ online opinion essays with a correlating topic (“Online Education: a Blessing or a Curse?”) to content analysis to identify the benefits and drawbacks of online education not included in the original survey drafted by the instructors, that students deemed important. After the content analysis, the list of categories remained unchanged; the share of new problems voiced by the students in their essays (12) amounted to 43% of the total number of answers included in the draft survey (28); almost all problems from the draft survey, except for two, were mentioned in the students’ essays. Therefore, it can be concluded that the degree of coincidence of the opinions of students and instructors regarding online education was rather high; new problems voiced in a limited number of students’ essays resonated with a considerable number of survey respondents, which means the survey drafting procedure should be more integrated and should ensure engagement of the prospective survey respondents.