Evaluating A Course
To get feedback on aspects of the course that went well and aspects of the course that need improvement, we ask students to evaluate our courses. Course evaluations, though, can raise anxiety for students and instructors. Proper preparation for these evaluations can ease anxiety and help us elicit meaningful feedback.
When do instructors do evaluations?
End of semester evaluations help instructors learn how the course went. Instructors may use end of semester evaluations to improve the next course. Yet, the current students do not benefit from the data collected from end of semester evaluations. In addition to doing end of semester evaluations, there are some benefits to doing mid-semester evaluations. Mid-semester evaluations benefit current students by alerting the instructor to challenges students are facing while reinforcing positive aspects of the course. Instructors can use the results of the mid semester evaluations to make changes to the second half of the course. Making these changes may ultimately improve end of semester evaluation results if areas of struggle identified at the middle of semester are addressed. After mid-semester evaluations are completed, follow up with students to acknowledge their responses and share plans for addressing their feedback.
How do instructors prepare students to complete course evaluations?
There are several ways we can prepare students to evaluate our courses. At the beginning of the semester, explain the purpose of the evaluation and the criteria included in the evaluation. Then be explicit about what parts of the course address specific criteria. For example, if one of the criteria evaluated is how the assignments help students to achieve the learning outcomes, explain to students how each assignment supports the learning outcomes.
What kinds of questions might be included in course evaluations?
Refer to this Course Evaluations Question Bank question bank from the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Teaching and Learning for examples of the types of questions to include in mid-semester evaluations. Instructors can write questions to supplement Loyola's standard end of semester evaluations. Here are some examples of questions that might be useful.
What other tools are available to help with course evaluations?
- Guarnera, A. (2016). Maximizing Your Mid-Semester Evaluations. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/
- Hara, B. (2009). Mid-Term Teaching Evaluations. Retrieved from https://www.chronicle.com
- Perlmutter, D. (2011). How to Read a Student Evaluation. Retrieved from https://www.chronicle.com/