Online Teaching & Technology Blog

Center for Online Learning, Research and Service @ Illinois Springfield

Tag: Course Evaluations

Strategies for Increasing Course Evaluation Response Rates

The Timing – A barrier for course evaluation completion is timing the evaluation close to finals (Cottreau & Hatfield 2001).  At UIS, course evaluations become available three weeks prior to the end of the semester.  Thus, begin asking for feedback earlier in the semester!

You might be concerned that that timing may be too early to get accurate feedback from students, as not all activities and assignments have yet been completed.  Research has shown, however, that the results of course evaluations completed earlier in a course are highly correlated with results of course evaluations completed finals week or after (McNulty et al. 2010).  Not only do you increase the likelihood of having a higher response rate, students completing evaluations earlier provided more qualitative feedback than students completing evaluations later (McNulty et al. 2010).  At UIS, these additional (write-in) comments are provided only to the instructor and are not added to the instructor’s faculty file.

The Frequency – For online course evaluations, post announcements as many times and in as many places as you can:

  • Post the link in your syllabus.
  • Create a specific announcement about the evaluation.

Sample Announcement – Today, course evaluations are open online. These are very important in improving the quality of classes at UIS. They also are an important instrument used in the promotion and tenure process for faculty members. Please take a few moments to fill out the evaluations for this class and any others you may be taking that have online evaluations: https://uisapp-s.uis.edu/evaluation/ . These evaluations are available only through Saturday, May 4. (Thanks!)

  • Include the link to the evaluation in emails and announcements until the end date (And remember the course evaluation is available at x until x date).
  • Add as an item to the course calendar

Tell Students Why It’s Important – Remind students why course evalutions are important at UIS and remind them that you cannot see the feedback until after final grades are due and that it will not impact their grade in any way.  Students are more likely to respond if they knew how their evaluations will be used and what decisions their responses will influence (Kidd & Latif 2003, Anderson et al. 2005; Cottreau & Hatfield 2001; Hatfield & Coyle 2013).  The largest factor for not completing evaluations is that students believe the evaluations will not result in change or would not benefit them (Hatfield & Coyle 2013).

The Method – For on-campus classes at UIS, faculty have the choice of having online or in-class evaluations.  Research is mixed on whether online or paper evaluations result in higher response rate, as shown below:  

  • Compared with paper surveys, online evaluations have been associated with increased response rates (Barnett & Matthews 2009; Anderson et al. 2005; Thorpe 2002; Hatfield & Coyle 2013).  
  • Online ratings produce a lower response rate than in-class ratings (Avery, Bryant, Mathios, Kang, & Bell, 2006; Benton, Webster, Gross, & Pallett, 2010 ; IDEA, 2011; Nulti, 2008).

Your class’s typical attendance rate should be considered when deciding whether the in-class or online evaluation will be more effective. 

Why are Course Evaluations Important at UIS?

Goal #1 of the UIS Strategic Plan states that “UIS will achieve academic excellence through excellence in teaching and learning and excellence in scholarship.”  Action Step #4 of the UIS Strategic Plan states that UIS will “Improve the assessment of learning outcomes and of teaching; use aggregated information from course evaluations to inform faculty development programming:  a) Establish and fund a program to support improvements in the assessment of learning outcomes and program review.  b) Adopt a new course evaluation instrument.  c) Implement a multidimensional approach to teaching evaluation.  d) Use the data from the improved teaching evaluation approach as the basis for issues addressed in faculty development programs.”

Presently, course evaluations are used for retention and promotion decisions and for course improvement.  Completion of student course evaluations is imperative in evaluating curricular trends and teaching effectiveness, particularly if no other assessment methods are performed (Hatfield & Coyle 2013).

Research suggestions that student ratings of courses and faculty are a reliable and useful method of evaluating teaching and course effectiveness (Kidd & Latif 2003).  In fact, student evaluations are as reliable as peer evaluations, provided that response rates are good (Paulsen 2002).  However, course evaluations should be used in conjunction with other evaluation tools, such as the peer evaluation and a teaching portfolio, when evaluating the effectiveness of an instructor.  Research has found that faculty members receiving the best evaluations are not always the most effective teachers according to students (Surratt & Desselle 2007).  The Dr. Fox Effect, as seen in the following video, suggests that a highly expressive presenter can earn high evaluations even when the content presented is nonsensical.

UIS Online Supplemental Evaluation Tool

The UIS online supplemental evaluation system allows faculty to administer anonymous surveys to their students. Faculty choose up to ten questions from a bank of 64 questions. Students log into the supplemental evaluation site with their UIS NetID and take the survey. If the survey is administered prior to the last two weeks of the semester, instructors see the anonymous student feedback immediately. If the survey is administered during the final two weeks of the semester, faculty may see the feedback after grades are posted. View the full description of the supplemental evaluation system.

FACULTY Online Supplemental Evaluation System

STUDENT Online Supplemental Evaluation System

Create an Evaluation 

  1. Log in to the Faculty side of the Online Supplemental Evaluation System.
  2. Click on “Create/Modify Evaluation Form” in the left menu.
  3. Click on the “Create New Evaluation Form” link.
  4. Enter the name of your evaluation in the “Version Description” field.
  5. Check the box next to the questions you would like to include. You may select up to ten.
  6. Click “Submit” to save your evaluation.

Schedule Your Evaluation

  1. Log in to the Faculty side of the Online Supplemental Evaluation System.
  2. Click on “Schedule Evaluation” in the left menu. 
  3. Click on the “Create New Schedule Entry” link.
  4. Fill out the scheduling form.
    1. Choose your course for
    2. Select the version (name of your evaluation).
    3. Choose the begin and end date.
    4. Enter any comments (notes for the instructor).
    5. Click “Submit.”
  5. Send or post the following link for your students to complete the evaluation:
    https://uisapp-s.uis.edu/ose/

Retrieve Evaluation Results

If your evaluation ends prior to the last two weeks of the semester, you may log in to see results immediately. If your evaluation ends during the last two weeks of the semester, you will be able to access the results after final grades are posted.

  1.  Log in to the Faculty side of the Online Supplemental Evaluation System.
  2. Click on the “Evaluation Results” link in the left menu. 
  3. Click on the link in the “Course” column to view the results of your evaluation.