Background Information about Online Student Reviews of Courses (Formerly Referred to as Course Evaluations)
Appalachian State's adoption of online student reviews was initiated by a recommendation by reviewers from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). In 2013, during our SACSCOC review, the on-site review committee recommended creating a standardized institution-wide process consistent with existing institutional policy for faculty evaluation (See Section 3.7.2 (Faculty evaluation) of the Report of the Reaffirmation Committee). The committee noted that: "The evaluation forms and evidence did not consistently indicate compliance and enforcement of these policies. The format for faculty evaluations are not standardized in either form or content and do not always relate specific assignments, productivity, teaching evaluations and service activities to the final evaluation. Additionally, information was not always provided for the basis of evaluations. It is especially important for pre-tenure faculty to have an annual evaluation providing a critical assessment of their performance and progress toward earning tenure." As part of the University's response to this recommendation, Appalachian began to explore products for student reviews and work on developing common questions to be used for student reviews of teaching.
Frequently Asked Questions by Faculty about Online Student Reviews of Courses
How can I improve the response rate for my online reviews?
Here are a few strategies to improve your response rate:
- Tell students that you value their opinions and how course reviews are used. Provide specific examples of improvements you have made to a course based on student feedback.
- Provide time in class for students to complete the online review. Giving time in class reinforces the notion that student reviews are important. Students bring devices to class and can use them to take the survey.
- Remind students their responses are anonymous.
- Halfway through with less than 75% response rate? Email your students, tell them how important it is for the credibility of the results that every student participate.
Can I track the response rate for my student reviews?
Yes, we encourage faculty to monitor their response rates for student reviews of courses. While the review window is open, faculty can log into their account to see the number of students who have completed their reviews for each course. However, you will not be able to identify individual students who have or have not completed their reviews.
Who can see the results of student reviews?
As with paper evaluations, individual instructors, department chairs, and deans are given access to reports on student reviews of courses after grades are posted. In addition, there are a few program administrators in IRAP who have access to results. Beyond these few individuals, IRAP will only release review results if they have written permission from the department chair (typically for a department's administrative assistant).
How do I get my course included in online student reviews?
Please contact your department chair. IRAP works with department chairs to coordinate the courses being reviewed each semester.
What do I do if I am incorrectly listed as the instructor for a course?
The instructor of record is pulled from Banner each semester. The data in the online student review of courses system is only as good as the data in Banner. Many departments use "place holders" for the instructor prior to the beginning of the semester and never go back to update the information in Banner. If you are incorrectly listed as the instructor of record for a course, please contact your department chair or administrative assistant.
Are you aware that there are biases in student ratings?
Yes, we are aware of numerous research studies and articles indicating that there is gender and ethnicity biases present in student reviews. Faculty, chairs and deans should also be made aware of these biases so they can take them into account in student reviews. Our advice is to advocate for best practices in regards to student reviews. Student reviews of teaching are one source of information used to evaluate teaching and should be used in addition to other measures such as peer obervation and instructors' self-reflection.
Who is required to do student reviews and how often?
According to the Faculty Handbook:
3.6 Faculty Teaching Performance Indicators. Due to the primacy of teaching, all faculty members shall be subject to regular teaching performance assessment, which shall include at minimum the following: (1) student reviews of instruction and (2) peer observation of teaching. Both shall be conducted at regular intervals as designated below. Any other assessments must be described in the foundational documents of the Department.
3.6.1 Student Reviews of Faculty Instruction. The University’s online student reviews shall be conducted in all classes in at least one (1) semester of each academic year. Colleges/Schools and Departments may choose to review more frequently and/or employ additional methods to offer students the opportunity to provide feedback on instruction, but those methods must be outlined in the College/School or Department’s foundational documents.
4.9 Special Faculty Performance Indicators. Due to the primacy of teaching, Special Faculty members with teaching responsibilities shall be subject to annual teaching performance assessment, which shall include the following: (1) Student reviews of instruction conducted at regular intervals (at least one semester of each academic year) and (2) Peer observations of teaching. Any additional assessments shall be specified in the Department’s foundational documents. Appropriate and timely feedback from evaluations shall be provided to the special faculty members each year.
4.9.1 Student Reviews of Faculty Instruction. The University’s online survey shall be conducted in all classes in at least one (1) semester of each academic year. Student reviews of faculty instruction can provide insight into a number of the important dimensions of a teacher’s efforts: classroom performance, advising, and informal and formal contact with students. The University online survey shall be conducted in all classes in at least one semester of every academic year. Colleges/Schools and Departments may choose to review more frequently and/or employ additional methods to offer students the opportunity to provide feedback on instruction, but those methods must be outlined in the college/school or department’s foundational documents.
More information on reviews is in the Academic Affairs Standard Operating Procedures (AASOPs):
OP 4.2 FacultyTeaching Performance Indicators. Faculty with teaching responsibilities shall have their teaching performance reviewed annually by methods that include: (1) Student reviews of teaching conducted at regular intervals (at least one semester of each academic year) and (2) Peer reviews of teaching evaluations including direct observation of the classroom. These assessments shall occur as designated by the Faculty Handbook Section 3.6 and 4.9 as well as relevant department policies.
What if there are dual instructors for a course?
If there is more than one instructor for a course, each instructor will receive unique reports. The core questions and any that a department may add are separated into questions about the course and questions about the instructor. Students enrolled in a course with co-instructors will receive two sets of instructor-based questions, one for each instructor. The instructors will only see the results of the course-based questions and the results for their own instructor-based questions. Instructors will NOT see the review information about the other instructor. This will automatically happen for courses with co-teachers listed in Banner.
Can we ask different questions for different types of courses such as lab versus lecture, internships, etc.?
Yes, departments can add additional questions for different course types. For a list of course type definitions, see the course term file definitions on the Registrar's website. Departments should notify IRAP of any changes they would like to make based on course type before the review window opens.
How do the student reviews of courses external tool to my AsULearn Course?
From your AsULearn course homepage, enable editing at the top right, then click Add an activity or resource in the Topic where you wish to add the tool:
In the Activity/Resource picker, from the All tab, select External tool:
On the Adding a new External tool page, use Student Reviews of Courses for the Activity name. Then open the Preconfigured tool drop-down menu and select Student Reviews of Courses from the alphabetical list of tools. Then click Save and return to course: