Monday, November 02, 2009

Online Course Student Evals

During a recent 2-day eLearning Quality Workshop in North Dakota we again had a brief discussion about student evaluations for online courses. Part of the discussion centered on the overall validity of student responses on course evals and part of it centered on the evaluation surveys themselves; particularly how long should they be and how can you get good response rates on a voluntary submission basis. (Flickr CC photo by kodomut)

A few years ago we (Lake Superior College) redesigned our end-of-course survey rather dramatically, from 32 questions to 10. We were hoping that the response rate would go up significantly if the students could see at a glance that the survey would only take a couple of minutes to complete. The response rate did go up, but only by a few percentage points and it still is less than 20% overall for all online courses combined.

Near the end of each term, we set up separate course shells within D2L for each online course and then enroll all the students but not the faculty members into those courses. Those extra "courses" appear in the students' course listings when they login to D2L near the end of the term and they can click in to take the survey. We post info there about the anonymity, that faculty won't get results until 2-4 weeks after the end of the term, and profusely thank them for their participation. We send out emails to all students informing them that the evals are open (they don't really read our email) and post messages on the front page of the D2L home page.

So, my questions for you fair readers are these:

  • a) do you have any advice for how to get the response rates substantially higher for student evals?
  • b) how do you convince students that their responses are anonymous and won't influence their final grades?
  • c) has anyone tried evaluating only after the course has closed and grades have been posted? If so, how?
  • d) do you have the "killer eval" that asks all the right questions and that you're willing to share?
Please reply in the comments section with anything you might want to say.

I'll close with the eval that we use at LSC as shown below.


Thoughtful student evaluation can help improve teaching effectiveness. This survey gives you the opportunity to express anonymously your views of this course and the way it has been taught. Your assistance is appreciated.

For all questions, please use the following scale:
1 - Strongly agree
2 - Agree
3 - Disagree
4 - Strongly disagree
5 - Choose not to answer or Don't Know

  • 1. The instructor has created a course layout that is easy to navigate (locate quizzes, lookup grades, find directions to assignments, etc.).
  • 2. There was agreement between the posted course objectives (as listed in the syllabus) and what was taught in the course.
  • 3. This course challenged me intellectually.
  • 4. The course materials used in this class helped me learn the subject matter.
  • 5. The instructor posted information about how best to communicate with him/her and was readily available to students.
  • 6. The instructor provided feedback in a timely manner.
  • 7. The feedback received on my coursework was helpful.
  • 8. Policies for determining grades in this course were clearly explained.
  • 9. I was satisfied with the amount of interaction with other students in this course.
  • 10. Overall, this instructor has created a valuable learning experience for students.
Finally: Please provide any additional comments about the course that you believe will be helpful to the instructor of this course.


iJim said...

I always thought having a screen that they have to go through to look up their grade would be something to try. Make them at least click through the eval questions before they can see how they did.

Lawrence said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lawrence said...

As a student currently pursuing online coursework, I always thought it would be rather simple to put one of those dreadful "holds" on the student's account until all evaluations are completed and submitted for coursework taken. I know it motivated me to find an obscure library book I checked out one time..

Anonymous said...

I tell my students that if they complete the survey, they'll get to see their final exam grade and course grade in D2L, and I set restrictions on those grades to enforce that. If they don't, they have to wait 2 weeks to find out through the school's registration system. That, and a few reminder e-mails, and my response rate is usually around 90%.