University Student Course Surveys

Student Survey Administration

Survey Administration Process

All instructors except faculty who have received tenure will have student surveys run automatically in their classes at the end of every semester. Results are typically available one to two weeks after grades are due. See Course Surveys for information regarding survey administration.

Strategies for Increasing Survey Participation

Survey results are most informative and helpful to instructors when enough students respond to them. While you cannot require students to complete surveys, give extra credit, or otherwise reward individual students for completing surveys, there are strategies you can use to incentivize your students as a group.

  • Make time in class for completing the survey. You can direct students’ attention to the survey invitation they received, leave the session, and return in 15 minutes to complete the class session.
  • Make a plea to your students. Students wonder if anyone reads these surveys and if they are “worth it.” Tell them that you will read them, and tell them why they are important to you in advancing your skills as a teacher.
  • Provide a group reward. For example, if the whole class achieves a participation rate of 75%, bring in cookies for the class.

Reviewing the Surveys

Use Surveys to Make Plans for the Next Semester

  • Reviewing your course surveys can sometimes feel uncomfortable, so it is helpful to try reading them with some detachment.
  • Focus on identifying just 2-3 specific actions you can take based on consistent themes.
  • Take notes.
  • Put aside the errant comments from students who offer perspectives that are not echoed by others. 

Strategies for Reviewing the Surveys

  1. Check survey participation rates. Did enough students respond to make generalizations useful? If not, consider strategies above to increase survey participation next semester.
  2. Consider your ratings in context. Do student perceptions differ depending on the course content? Have they changed from previous semesters? Are your averages different from the department’s averages? from the other sections of the same course? from similar courses in your department or college/school?
  3. Look for ratings outliers. Is there an aspect of the course or your teaching that students are especially satisfied or dissatisfied with? 
  4. For comments, focus on consistent themes. If one student makes an unusual comment that is not echoed by other students, it is unlikely to be a comment you need to take into consideration as you develop your teaching. However, if several students express that the course pace was too fast, or that a particular assignment was especially valuable, that’s information to attend to. You can adjust your pace, and you can duplicate or expand the specially valued course assignment.

Organize your notes

Use these topics to organize your notes. Each topic represents a possible area of teaching development.

  • Course Design — Topics covered, assessments, workload, alignment of content and assessments, organization, design for varied learners
  • Pedagogy — Connection with the professor, activities, community, critical thinking, the effectiveness of lectures
  • Inclusivity — Diversity of course materials, sense of inclusion, support, and fostering of belonging
  • Discipline Course content’s relevance to the anticipated course subject.

We recommend talking with a colleague, a mentor, or your department chair for guidance on integrating student feedback into your curriculum. Likewise, the staff at OFE is available by appointment.

Considerations for Personnel Actions

Reflecting purposefully on student surveys, in light of your ongoing efforts in teaching development, guides other readers of your student surveys. Connect student ratings and commentary to your teaching materials, your pedagogy, and your own plans for continuous improvement. Regardless of your teaching position, consider using the Teaching Excellence Plan to guide your plans for further development.

If you would like to talk about the results, your thoughts, or strategies for addressing comments, please meet with an OFE staff member.

For more information or help, please email the Office for Faculty Excellence or make an appointment with a consultant.

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Last Modified: Friday, March 1, 2024 11:24 am