Online Forms Make Course, Faculty Evaluations Easier

Sharing course and faculty evaluations just got easier for both students and faculty members.

This year, for the first time, all course evaluations will be available online, said Dr. Alexandra Gregory, associate provost/associate academic vice president. The evaluations will be available to students through Blackboard the week of Nov. 14 through Dec. 6.

Instead of processing approximately 70,000 course evaluations manually, a process that literally took months, the responses to Student Evaluation Surveys (SES) and the law school’s Teaching Effectiveness Questionnaire (TEQ) will be able to be shared with faculty members about one month after final grades are submitted, Gregory said.

Online courses and their professors have been evaluated in the online format since Summer 2009 using the current SES process and since 1997 using the old TEQ process, Gregory said. After seeing the success and ease of that process, several deans requested that Academic Council use the online process for all courses. The council decided to go forward with the plan at the start of this semester.

Students will receive classroom and electronic reminders about the evaluations, with instructions and a link to open on Blackboard or a free mobile app for smartphones. Students will have a two-week window to complete their evaluations, explained Ruth Newberry, director of educational technology. If evaluation forms are not completed in one sitting, students have opportunity to return to them later. Color-coded links will show them which classes they haven’t yet evaluated, which evaluations are partially completed and which are due within 48 hours.

At the same time that students are receiving email reminders about the evaluations, faculty will receive an email so that they may remind their classes of the importance of the evaluations, Newberry said. Additionally, faculty have the opportunity to view the submission response rate for their classes in real time during the SES availability period.

The evaluations provide high-stakes feedback for faculty members that is extremely significant to their work and their careers, Gregory said. “The evaluations are used in reviewing faculty achievement when it comes to promotion and tenure decisions,” she said. “Faculty review the feedback so they can see if they need to improve their teaching and understand better how students learn.”

By completing the surveys online, class time is freed for teaching and learning. CTS assures students of confidentiality, as faculty receive reports only after final semester grades are posted in Banner and the survey tool assures anonymity of the responder. Newberry explained that these evaluations initially will be provided to schools in aggregate form and individual reports then are sent to individual faculty through Blackboard.

“It’s important that students come to understand how significant these evaluations are to the professors and to the school,” Newberry said. “Faculty members can explain in the following semesters how they have used student feedback to make improvements and changes. Schools can also help close this feedback and assessment loop by similarly communicating how the SES feedback is used for decision making.”

Newberry indicated that the survey experience will continue to evolve and improve.  “This is a year of identification, discovery and working to make it better.”