Student course evaluations support our commitment to excellence and innovation in teaching and learning. The feedback provided by students helps faculty members, department chairs, program directors and deans continually improve our courses and the quality of instruction at the University of New Haven.
Our secure online system provides students 24/7 access during the evaluation period. The evaluation period for undergraduate semester course runs about 15 days and closes the evening before the start of final exams. The evaluation period for graduate courses closes on the final day of the course. Faculty are not able to view student course evaluation results until after final grades have been submitted. Courses with 4 or fewer students enrolled will not be provided a university course evaluation survey to protect the anonymity of the students.
During the Fall and Spring Semesters, students that complete all of their course evaluations automatically participate in the “Early Grade View Incentive” program and may view their final grades 1 week earlier than students who do not complete their course evaluations.
What are the benefits of moving to the online course evaluation system for faculty?
The new web-based course evaluation system offers multiple advantages:
- Considerable cost savings by reducing the amount we spend on paper and printing. In addition, changing to online course evaluations frees up considerable time for our staff members and department chairs to work on other important tasks. And of course the environmental benefits that go along with using less paper.
- Faculty will receive your course evaluation report much sooner than paper systems that require time for department chairs and staff to enter the data then review the reports prior to returning them to individual faculty.
- Student responses to open ended items tend to be more thoughtful and comprehensive. The students have more time to provide feedback about what was most useful in achieving the course learning objectives and make specific suggestions on how to improve the course.
- Faculty will no longer need to take class time to allow students an opportunity to complete their evaluations.
- No longer will evaluations be lost in the mail, floods or during office moves.
Who runs the course evaluation process?
UNH’s Office of Institutional Research administers the survey, sends the initial and reminder emails, prepares the reports, and with the guidance of senior academic leaders, makes adjustments or improvements as needed.
The course evaluation items that are now used by all of the colleges were developed by the Course Evaluation Task Force (described in section 4.4.14 of the Faculty Handbook).
If you have questions or concerns regarding the course evaluation process, please contact the Course Evaluation team at CourseEval@newhaven.edu.
Will students be reminded to complete course evaluations?
Yes, multiple times. An e-mail will be sent to all students announcing the start of the evaluation period. The e-mail will include instructions for completing the evaluations. E-mail reminders will be sent periodically during the evaluation period to students who have not yet completed their evaluations.
How can I make a difference in ensuring decent response rates?
- Make it part of the course: Listing course evaluations as an assignment, even with no point value attached, tends to raise response rates. If you want to incentivize students with extra credit or participation points, please check with your department chair first to determine if it is okay. Grade penalties for not completing evaluations are discouraged.
- Let your students know that their feedback is important to you: Students are more likely to complete course evaluations if they understand how they are being used, and believe their opinions matter. Consider sharing with your students some feedback that you’ve received in the past, and let them know the changes you made as a result.
- Help them feel safe: Reminding students that you won’t see their feedback until after you submit grades will reduce concerns that may sometimes inhibit students from participating in the process. Confidentiality is a concern for students who worry about reprisals for poor reviews, so assurances of the confidentiality of the system may help them be more comfortable with responding
- Integrate it into program/department culture: Start talking about the importance of student course evaluation feedback when the students first arrive on campus. Make it clear that ensuring academic quality and improving learning for future students by providing feedback is a responsibility and in the self-interest of every student in their program.
- Class time: A key benefit of online course evaluations is not having to use class time. On the other hand, if the class is in a computer lab or the students come to class with laptops, an instructor may want to use class-time in a manner similar to how course evaluations were conducted during the times of in-class paper ratings.
How can I monitor response rates?
- Log into insideUNH.
- Click on the “Employee” tab at the top.
- Go to the module on the right-side called “Admin Resources.” Click on: “Campus Labs: Student Course Eval. Faculty Access”
- Any active courses should appear. Click on the course to review response rates.
How do I view my course evaluation reports?
Soon after the Office of the University Registrar closes the final grading period, faculty will receive an email with an attached PDF copy of the student course evaluation results. You can access additional report views such as comparisons to your department, college, and the entire university by logging into insideUNH and clicking on the link under the Employee tab, Student Course Evaluations-Faculty Access. Your reports are saved and password protected within the website so that you can go back and review them at any time.
I use the Blackboard Grade Center. How might this impact my course evaluation response rate?
As part of the “Early Grade View Incentive” program, students who complete all their course evaluations by the due date will be able to view their final grades in Banner SSB one week earlier then students who did not complete their course evaluations. Therefore, for the incentive to work, please hide the column that shows the students their total grade/final grade – this “External View” column is indicated by a green check mark in the column header.
(If you use a weighted total system, you may want to mark the Weighted Total column as the External View Column; point to the column’s header and click Set as External Grade.) You may continue to use the Grade Center to enter grades for items such as quizzes, exams, assignments, or point systems for your courses.
This column is set as the External Grade (green checkmark) and Visible to Users in their My Grades.
This External Grade column is set as Not Visible to Users –the icon is a black circle with red slash.
To hide column results from students in My Grades, go to the Grade Center, point to the column’s header and click Edit Column Information. In the Options section, choose NO next to Show this Column to Students and then click Submit – the black circle with red slash “Not Visible to Users” icon will appear on the column header. When you want to show the column to students, simply change the setting to YES and click Submit.
Why did we implement the early grade view incentive?
Considering the importance of student feedback to the institution it is essential that we employee strategies to help ensure needed response rates. Indeed, most research on course evaluation participation rates indicates that online evaluation rates are 20 to 30 percent lower than paper-based evaluations administered during class time. Response rates for online course evaluations vary between and within institutions, but studies have identified 50 percent as an approximate typical response rate for optional online student course evaluations. Nevertheless, online evaluations are as accurate as paper-based evaluations, and they are more secure and cost-effective. Fortunately, many universities report success in boosting online response rates to above 70 percent by implementing two best practices: 1. Ensure that faculty members and university administrators act as advocates for the evaluation process and remind students of the importance of completing them. 2. Granting early access to final grades to students who complete evaluations.
Where can I find summaries of research findings related to student course evaluations?
IDEA Paper # 50: Student Ratings of Teaching: A Summary of Research and Literature
Student-Ratings: Myths-vs-Research Evidence (from Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching)
University of Michigan: Questions Frequently Asked About Student Rating Forms: Summary of Research Finding
Nulty, D. D. (2008). The adequacy of response rates to online and paper surveys: what can be done? Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education Vol. 33, No. 3, June 2008, 301–314
Berk, R. A. (2012). Top 20 strategies to increase the online response rates of student rating scales. International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 8(2), 98-107
McGill Teaching and Learning Services: FAQs about Response Rates and Bias in Online Course Evaluations