Design and Implementation of a Student Biographical Questionnaire (BQ) Online Platform for Effective Student Success
Knowing relevant information about students entering the higher education (HE) system is becoming increasingly important, thus enabling higher education institutions (HEIs) to design effective studentcentred support programmes. Therefore, HEIs should ascertain all relevant information about their students before the commencement of the academic year. Doing so means that institutions have a head start in understanding the types of support that will be required for different students throughout the year. This article describes the design, implementation and application of a student biographical questionnaire (BQ) online platform at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), as well as some of the lessons learned in this regard. The BQ online platform was fully implemented for the first time in January 2016 during the student registration process and has now become an integral part of the university student registration process. Once data collection and analysis is done, a BQ report is compiled and presented to various high-level decision-making structures of the university. The Faculty Student Advisers are the most critical users of the BQ data, as they utilise the data to inform and improve the various student support interventions that each faculty is providing. The planning process for BQ data collection includes questionnaire review; updates on the BQ online platform; testing of the BQ online platform; stakeholder meetings and BQ training of involved stakeholders. Some of the lessons learned when implementing this online platform include buy‑in and support from University Management; understanding of the BQ online platform by those dealing directly with students during the registration process; and continuous review and improvements of the BQ online platform. The BQ online platform has proven to be a valuable tool in providing Wits with a head start in understanding the needs of the students and the support they might require to succeed in their first year of study.
Keywords: biographical questionnaire; first‑year students; student success; student support; South Africa
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike 4.0 International License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).