Information for Instructors and Administrators
Frequently asked questions about course evaluations:
Note: the central course evaluation system now uses UTORid credentials for all users (Students, Instructors, Academic Administrators)
During the Instructor Period, you will be able to add additional items to your course evaluation. You can participate in instructor item selection by:
- Clicking on the link emailed to you from the course evaluation software, Blue, or
- Accessing Blue via the Instructor section of the Course Evals page on Quercus. Click on the Instructor Question Selection for Evaluation Forms (for Current Courses) link.
Once you have accessed the item selection page:
- Choose an item category and click Show Section to view the items under that category. Click Select to choose individual items.
- Once you are satisfied with your selection, click Submit.
- Want to revisit your items at a later time? Click Save instead of Submit and return anytime during the Instructor Period. Your items will only be added to your evaluation after you click Submit.
During the Student Period, you will be able to view your live course evaluation response rate as students respond to your evaluation. You can view your response rate by:
- Clicking on the link emailed to you at the beginning of the Student Period from the course evaluation software, Blue, or
- Accessing Blue via the Instructor and Administrators section of the Course Evals page in Quercus – look for the View Response Rates (for Current Courses) link.
These strategies have been found to improve online course evaluation response rates because they educate, engage, and create an open dialogue with students about the important role course evaluations play in students’ overall learning experiences. Research demonstrates that engaged and informed students are motivated to complete course evaluations. You can encourage this engagement by demonstrating your involvement in course evaluations.
- Remind your students in class that the course evaluation session is open for your division.
- Evaluation dates are available from your division and are posted here.
- It’s important that you demonstrate your awareness and interest in course evaluations by sharing information with students about course evaluation timelines. Make in-class announcements, post announcements or messages on Blackboard, etc., to communicate that you are aware of the course evaluation process for the course.
- Educate your students on how course evaluations are used.
- Students are often unaware that instructors review this feedback, so this is an ideal opportunity to tell your students how you use their feedback to enhance your course each year.
- In 2008, CTSI ran a series of focus groups with students and found that a majority of students were unaware of the ways in which evaluations were used. Knowing that collected data are read by instructors and academic administrators for the purposes of course and teaching enhancement, curriculum design, annual faculty performance reviews, tenure, promotion and teaching awards, can alter how they approach course evaluations. Many students indicated that they wished they’d been informed of this by their instructors.
- Build time into your class for students to complete their evaluations. You may wish to provide dedicated time during a lecture for students to complete their evaluations. This can be achieved in the following ways:
- Allow your students to leave a bit early so that they can complete their evaluations on their mobile devices or laptops, in the library, or at home.
- If WiFi or cell networks are available, you may want to allocate sufficient class time for students to fill out their evaluations on their mobile devices or laptops. Keep in mind that not all students will have access to these devices and data collected by CTSI on students’ attitudes toward the new framework demonstrates that many prefer to complete their evaluations outside of class when they have more time to carefully reflect on their experience in the course.
- In-Class Course Evaluation time (pptx)
- Talk about student feedback throughout the year.
- Remember: Whenever you make changes to your course, be sure to inform your students of these changes. This demonstrates that you value student feedback and that you incorporate it into your teaching practice – in other words, you act on their feedback. By demonstrating how you respond to their efforts to provide feedback, you build a dialogue that highlights both yours and the students’ roles in their learning experiences.
- Consider administering a mid-course evaluation.
- This strategy also helps to demonstrate that you are engaged in an informed and adaptable teaching practice that encourages student feedback throughout the course.
- Determine your Division’s course evaluation period.
- Choose a date to provide in-class time for course evaluations.
- Make an announcement that you will be providing time in class to fill out course evaluations
a. Make the announcement at least 1-week prior
b. Remind your students via email/Quercus/etc.
- Tell your students why you want to hear from them. This is shown to significantly affect response rates. You may want to provide students with the current response rate as well.
a. Explain the important role course evaluations play in your teaching practice
b. Share specifically how you have used course evaluations to enhance your teaching
c. Describe something you would like particular feedback on such as a new assignment
and/or teaching approach
On the day:
- Try to schedule the in-class evaluation period during the start of class (avoid the end of class as students may hastily fill in their evaluation to leave)
- Set a time limit. We recommend at least 10 minutes. Notify your students that you will leave the room
- Designate a student volunteer who will track the time, notify the class when the time is up, and, if required, notify you when the time is done
- When you come back in, thank your students for taking the time to provide feedback
- Show your students the updated response rate for the class
a. As an instructor, you receive a link via email to view your response rates in real-time. This link is sent to you on the first day of the evaluation period
Accessing and understanding your report
Course evaluations are not the only source of information about students’ learning experiences in their course(s), but they can provide instructors with a wealth of data about specific course aspects that have been deemed important for assessment by the institution, division, and department. Moreover, course evaluations can provide instructors with additional data collected from students’ responses to items that instructors have opted to add to their course evaluation forms.
The CE Team offers one-on-on consultation for instructors with respect to not only the interpretation of their course evaluation data, but for its synthesis into other documents like teaching dossiers. Please visit the CTSI website to arrange an appointment.
Instructors can access past reports on the Instructors and Administrators section of the Course Evals page on Quercus. Click on the Course Evaluation Reports (Current & Historical) link for a list of your report batches.
Blue – the Course Evaluation System
Under the CE Framework, course evaluations are administered and collected online using Blue, which is designed by eXplorance, a Canadian company in Montreal. During course evaluation windows, instructors and students receive e-mail notifications and reminders from Blue, with a link directly into the course evaluation system. Blue also adapts course evaluations for smartphone and tablet use so that course evaluation tasks can be completed on the go!
Key Memos, Policies and Guidelines
- For information regarding course evaluations during COVID-19, please visit course evaluations on Quercus
- Special Note about the Winter 2015 Term
- Memo: Provostial Guidelines on the Student Evaluation of Teaching in Courses (PDAD&C #66)
- Memo: Now Available – Course Evaluation Interpretation Guidelines for Academic Administrators (PDAD&C #66)
Winter 2020 Course Evaluations
There are no changes to the course evaluation schedule for Winter 2020. Important information regarding Winter 2020 course evaluations for instructors and academic administrators can be found in the following memo from the Provost’s Office. This memo is also available as a signed Winter 2020 Course Evaluations Letter (pdf) for inclusion in dossiers or other purposes. Please note that the letter referenced in both links refers to the pdf letter provided in the second link.