Student Course Evaluations
Student Course Evaluations (SCE) is one of many ways to evaluate courses and instruction at the University of Utah. SCEs are a student assessment of the effectiveness of courses and instructors. They are conducted online and delivered to virtually every student taking a course at the University of Utah. They ask students 14 standard questions – 7 about the course and 7 about the instructor – as well as make available to departments the option of adding additional questions. For courses that meet General Education and Bachelor Degree requirements, the course evaluations ask separate questions related to students’ perceptions of the course and their experience in light of the General Education designations. The information collected is used to provide information for students to select courses and/or instructors; it gives academic departments feedback about their courses, and helps student advisory committees for retention/promotion/tenure recommendations.
II. Description of Current Status
The Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE) lobbied for and assumed management of student course evaluations in April 2008. CTLE’s primary goal was to incorporate student course evaluation data into their existing programs to improve teaching and learning on campus. Since then, CTLE has started several initiatives to help students, instructors, departments and committees use collected evaluation data more effectively and efficiently.
III. Analysis and Appraisal
In the fall of 2008, based on consistent critical feedback over the previous couple of years, the Academic Senate charged the student course evaluation program to evaluate the current system for students and instructors. CTLE established a Student Feedback Committee to examine issues related to the process and found that many students were unaware of the purpose of student course evaluations or the information available to them after evaluations are submitted. Faculty had also voiced concern over the misuse of student course evaluation data.
IV. Actions Taken
The committee worked weekly during the previous academic year on a proposal to improve student access to course evaluation reports through the class schedule to help students select courses and instructors for their program of study. Phase II of the proposal provides a link from the class schedule to robust instructor pages that include education, publications, research, internal and external reviews, course syllabi, videos, etc. These new instructor pages provide several different types of information and evaluations for students to make informed choices when selecting courses and/or instructors. They also benefit the instructor by providing a context for course evaluation data with additional information about their teaching.
A new General Education report for specific General Education questions was created to assist the course review process. This report provides General Education requirement committees with data to assess course content and student outcomes. CTLE has also worked to create a standard policy and procedure for new questions for courses with General Education requirements. This process will ensure quality evaluation questions that provide effective data that committees will be able to use for course improvement.
As part of the campus-side sustainability, the ‘going green’ project will begin for summer 2009 course evaluation reports. This project will electronically distribute course evaluation reports to individual instructors saving department administrator time and resources by eliminating the need to print and distribute paper results.