University Student Course Surveys

Student Survey Administration

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.

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. Take notes with the aim of identifying just a few actions you can take based on consistent themes. Put aside the errant comments from students who offer perspectives that are not echoed by others.

Strategies for Using Surveys

  1. Check survey participation rates. Did enough students respond to make generalizations useful? If not, consider what you can do to increase participation next semester, including:
    1. Give students 15 minutes to complete surveys during class. You can leave the session, direct their attention to the invitation they received, and return in 15 minutes to complete the class session. You can’t require students to complete surveys, but you can make time for them.
    2. 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.
    3. Provide a group reward. You cannot give students extra credit or in any way reward individual students for completing surveys. But you can provide a group award. For example, if the whole class achieves a participation rate of 75%, bring in cookies for the class.
  2. Compare your ratings. Do student perceptions differ depending on the course content? Have they changed from previous semesters? Are your averages different from the mean from other sections or 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

Organize your notes on surveys using these topics, all of which represent areas you can develop. :

    • 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 OFE.

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

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