Why course evaluations matter and how faculty can increase the response rate

Mar 6th, 2012 | By | Category: FACULTY


Lewis University uses an course evaluation tool which is conducted online. In a recent term, the share of students completing the evaluation varied from 100% for a number of courses to as little as 8% in one course. Why does this matter? When a course has a low response rate, the only students providing feedback are those that are very happy or especially dissatisfied. We want and use representative feedback to help faculty improve their courses. Many decisions about the future of a faculty member utilize student evaluations in some manner. It is in everyone’s interest to have full participation in the course evaluation.

We recently asked several faculty who have high response rates what they do. mostly, their advice is to remind the students of the importance of the evaluation and use some class time to make it happen.

Cathy Hancock says, “Well, there’s nothing special I do–I just build in time to go to the computer lab so students can do the evals. I just make that time part of the class so they all do it.” Don Gardiner suggests “give them class time to complete it (and make them do it) in the computer lab”.

Maureen Keane indicates “I remind them! Sounds simple, but I know this makes a difference. I remind them in class, and I usually remind them in Blackboard or via an email. Again, I tell them I appreciate their feedback, and to please complete the on-line evaluations. Usually, in class, several people will then raise their hands and say they completed the evals already.” Similarly, Sara Piotrowski says, “I told them about it numerous times and I reserved the lab for a half hour during week 8. I read my course evaluations and I was so happy! I loved teaching for the SPCE and I can’t wait to do it again!”

Donna Quathamer uses two forms of reminders in her online course, “I only have two methods to get a good response rate. I post the information on the announcement page two weeks before the end of class. Then on the final exam I remind students that if they have not yet completed the survey now is the time!!!!”

Lesley Page provides this advice:
1) Post announcements (online) or make an announcement (on ground) when evaluations are available AND let students know why their input is so vital.
2) Discuss how course evals can help direct the program and content of the courses to ensure they are exceeding student expectations.
3) Follow-up with reminders to complete the evals.

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