Tag Archives: Course Evaluations

Strategies for Increasing Course Evaluation Response Rates

The TimingA 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. 

The Process for UIS Course Evaluations

Schedule for UIS Course Evaluations

5 Weeks prior to last day of class — The Faculty Files Office emails instructors teaching onground and blended courses requesting they notify office if they prefer to have their course(s) for that term evaluated through the online process.

3 Weeks prior to last day of class — The Faculty Files Office emails instructors who intent to have their course evaluations completed in the classroom to pick up their packets.

3 Weeks prior to the last day of class — Faculty of online classes receive an e-mail from the Faculty Files Office notifying them that the online evaluation system is available for students.  It is the faculty member’s responsibility to provide their students with the instructions regarding access to and completion of the evaluations.

Due Date — The due date for course evaluations will be included in the announcements sent from the Faculty Files Office.  Presently, course evaluations are due by the last day of class (before finals week begins).

Administration of UIS Course Evaluations

On-Campus - Instructions for administering course evaluations in the classroom are included with each evaluation packet.  Identify a student to be responsible for administering, collecting and depositing the completed evaluation packet in one of the course evaluation drop boxes, which are located throughout classroom buildings and identified on the instruction sheet.  Faculty are required to leave the classroom while students complete their evaluations.

Online Faculty teaching online courses are required to use the online course evaluation system (https://uisapp-s.uis.edu/evaluation/). 

Processing of Evaluations

The Faculty Files Office collects the completed evaluation packets from the drop boxes and enters the data into the course evaluation database (for on-campus evaluations).  The Faculty Files Office generates a summary report for each faculty member’s permanent personnel file for each course taught during a given semester.  An email notification is sent to the faculty notifying them that their evaluation summaries are available online and the course evaluation forms, which include handwritten student comments, are then returned to the faculty member.

Accessing Results

Current and historical evaluation summaries can be accessed through the following url: https://uisapp-s.uis.edu/evaluation/.  Through this site faculty are able to access their individual, department and college summaries and can also access campus-wide summaries.  Student handwritten comments are included in the database, but can only be seen in the individual faculty view (secure access) and are not included in the summary entered into the personnel file.

Special Situations

Team Taught Courses – Each instructor is evaluated individually, with the process being identical to the standard course evaluation.

Alternative Evaluations – The process is expected to be identical to the standard course evaluation.

Supplemental Evaluations – Faculty may choose how supplemental course evaluations are administered and documented.
If faculty elect to develop and use a supplemental evaluation form they may use the standard course evaluation distribution and/or collection process.

Library Faculty – See Faculty Personnel Policy, Appendix 11 for guidelines & process.

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.