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.