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Student Evaluations

Student Evaluations

21 October, 2016

Aside from end-of-semester course evaluations, you can gather mid-semester evaluations to check how your course is going while it is in progress.

You can also check in occasionally with classroom assessment techniques (CATs) that quickly and easily let you to assess how students are learning in your classes.

Purpose of Student Evaluation

  1. Student evaluations are helpful tools that give insight for modifying, planning, or re-designing a course.
  2. When collected mid-semester, student evaluations give the chance to address issues regarding student learning while the course is in progress.
  3. Students may appreciate that their experiences in your course matter to you, and they respond well when they feel that their feedback is valued.
  4. Student evaluations of teaching are an important way to gauge teaching effectiveness and document instructional development for a teaching portfolio or the peer review process.

Collecting Student Evaluations

  1. Create a plan for when (mid-semester? end-of-semester?) and how (online? in class?) you will collect student evaluations of your teaching.
  2. Create questions that reflect what you want to receive feedback on. Modify existing student evaluation surveys to address your specific needs.
  3. Consider collecting student evaluations with an online survey

Mid-Term Student Evaluations

Collecting information early enough (once students have experienced your course for a number of weeks) gives you the chance to adjust your course to address student learning while the course is in progress. On your syllabus, keep in mind to add a disclaimer that course components are subject to change.

Mid-semester feedback can be a longer student course evaluation survey, or it can comprise of one or two questions for students to respond to anonymously.

Classroom Assessment Techniques

A quick way to collect information is to do occasional classroom assessment techniques (CATs). This involves asking students to take a few minutes to respond anonymously to a prompt.

Example questions:
What was the main point of today’s lecture?
What’s one thing you have still have a question about?
What was unclear about the lecture today?

End-of-Semester Evaluations

Supplement department course evaluation forms with additional questions that address your needs.

Svinicki & McKeachie (2011, pg. 341) suggest using two types of questions: those dealing with the learning goals, and those addressing specific behaviors.

Example questions:
Learning goals questions: “My knowledge of ‘x’ has increased as a result of taking this course.”
Specific behaviors: “I became more interested in this field as a result of taking this class.” or ” The instructor was organized.”

How to collect student evaluations in your class:

  1. Explain to students that you are collecting their anonymous feedback to check how they are experiencing/have experienced the course. Share with students that their feedback is important and will use it when making course design decisions.
  2. Assist students on giving useful and effective feedback. For example, if they did not like something, ask them to explain why or suggest what they might have preferred. Ask them to also share what is going well.
  3. Give class time for students to give their feedback.
  4. Review the completed student evaluations for common themes and organize your feedback into three categories:
    – Those you can modify this semester (for example, the turnaround time on homework).
    – Those that must wait until the next time the course is offered (for example, the reading or texts).
    – Those that you either cannot or, for pedagogical reasons, will not change (for example, the number of exams or quizzes).
  5. Share the results with the students. For mid-semester evaluations, you can do this in a subsequent class. Inform them what the general feedback was, and what changes you will or will not make along with your rationale. Following through with modifications based on mid-semester feedback leads to enhanced teaching and, therefore, better end-of-semester evaluations. For end-of-semester feedback, you can share findings with new students the next semester. This communicates the value you place on student experiences and may improve student motivation to provide you with effective feedback.

Factors Influencing Student Evaluations

According to a study involving 200 faculty respondents, the following four factors significantly contributed to improvement of teaching as measured by student evaluations (McGowan & Graham, 2009):

  1. Engaging in active and practical learning that highlights the relevance of course material to students.
  2. Creating the chance for significant teacher/student interactions and conferences that enable instructors to connect with students.
  3. Emphasizing learning outcomes and setting high expectations.
  4. Revisions and improvements to how student learning is assessed.

Meaning of Student Evaluations

Research has shown that reviewing student evaluation data in a follow-up consultation tend to result in positive modifications in teaching and course design that can influence future evaluations (Murray, 1997).

Increasing Response Rates to Online Evaluations

  1. Provide a “live” demonstration of how to submit an online response to decrease any computer-related questions.
  2. Make the survey easy for students to access by providing the URL link in an email.
  3. Remind students of the evaluation deadline date and the value of the results. Instructors can also program the survey website to send email reminders to invited participants.
  4. Extend the duration of a survey’s online availability.
  5. Explain the significance of student feedback to course improvement in the syllabus.
  6. Give class time for students to fill out the online form using their laptops.
  7. Stress the anonymous nature of student evaluations.
  8. Reassure students that their responses will be taken seriously and specific actions taken to resolve issues regarding the course.
  9. Create evaluations that seek constructive criticism and let students to engage with the questions.
  10. Keep questionnaires brief.
  11. Direct students to a computer lab where they can submit their evaluations.