A Step-by-Step Guide to Reviewing Your Course Evaluations

Together with other sources of feedback, course evaluations (CE) can be a valuable source of insight into students’ experiences and perspectives in your courses. This guide will help you to review your course evaluation reports effectively, reviewing both quantitative and qualitative student feedback for strengths to highlight and other areas to focus on for development.

Step 1: Reflect on the context of your courses

What were you aiming to accomplish in this course? Was there anything unusual for you about this course? What do you think went well in this course? Did you feel that there were any areas in need of improvement? Did you try something new in this course offering?

Step 2: Get to know your course evaluations

CE reports include:

  • Institutional items
  • Divisional items
  • Departmental items (if applicable)
  • Instructor items (if applicable)

Statistical scores of Mean, Median and Mode provide a general description of the data and a general sense of the typical student experience.

Step 3: Look for areas of focus

  1. Review quantitative scores. Section 1 provides broad statistical summaries of each of the items. ICM is a composite score (a stronger and more reliable score) and can be helpful for comparing across courses.
  2. Review qualitative comments. Focus on common themes and actionable feedback when you analyze these responses.

Step 4: Reflect on potential areas of focus

What common themes or strengths in your teaching could you highlight when preparing a dossier? What elements of the course do multiple students perceive as challenging or as a barrier to their learning? If you make changes, what will you look for in the feedback you receive the next time the course is offered? Are there other sources of feedback you’d like to seek out to further explore these areas of focus?

Interpretation of the General Statistical Terms

  • Mean: the average of numerical values corresponding to students’ responses (total divided by the number of responses); can be affected by extreme values
  • Median: the value in the middle (or an average of two middle values) of a dataset when all values are ranked from the lowest to the highest; less affected by extreme values than the mean
  • Mode: the most common value of a dataset
  • Standard Deviation (SD): it describes the “spread” of the data and is typically around 1.1 for course evaluations. A higher SD value suggests a wider spread and a lower level of student consensus and may indicate an unusual distribution
  • Institutional Composite Mean (ICM): The five Core Institutional Items (Institutional Q1-Q5) are averaged to form the Institutional Composite Mean.

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