6 Tips for Designing Effective Course Evaluations

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Before embarking on the design of your course evaluation, you should determine what your goals are for this research – what information would you like to acquire? And, what will you use this information for?  Do you want feedback on student satisfaction with course structure, effective teaching methods of instructors, or communication of administrators?  No matter what feedback you decide you want to gather through your course evaluations, you need to ensure that you create questions with proper wording that will draw out the feedback you are looking to obtain.

6 tips to creating effective course evaluations

  1. Ask direct and clear questions. For example, if one of your goals is to collect feedback on the specified course, be sure to ask direct questions pertaining to the course curriculum. Another goal could be to collect feedback on the instructor’s teaching style. In this case, ask direct questions pertaining to how the course was taught and what the professor can do to improve. Ensure that these questions are clear and concise, and directly related to the feedback you are trying to acquire. The clearer the question is, the less likely that it will be open to interpretation and result in a variety of answers.
  2. Use several question styles. For instance, you might consider using a combination of question styles such as single- and multi-response questions, and rating-scale questions to gather specific answers. Also be sure to include some open-ended (short, comment questions) to gather general feedback. Asking open-ended questions allows you to gather direct comments.
  3. Define rating-scales. If you choose to ask questions as rating-scales, be sure to clearly define the scale for answers. For instance, if you choose a 1 to 5 rating-scale, clearly define each numeric rating to avoid confusion or skewing of results. For example, 1 – Very good; 2 – Good; 3 – Neutral; 4 – Poor; 5 – Very poor.
  4. Keep it short. It is important to keep the course evaluation short. Ask only the most necessary questions. The shorter the evaluation, the more likely students will be to complete it. A shorted course evaluation can result in higher response rates.
  5. Make evaluations available online. Make the course evaluation process as convenient and flexible as possible for students.  With online course evaluations, students can complete their course evaluations at their convenience and with greater flexibly, on a device of their choice, whether it be on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or Smartphone. Convenience and flexibility in the course evaluation process result in better quality feedback as students can set a time that works for them to really think about their responses.
  6. Confidentiality. Clearly communicate that evaluation responses will remain strictly confidential. Confidentiality gives students the assurance they need to comfortably provide absolute, candid feedback. Again, this is another way to increase response rates.

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