By Lynn Zimmerman
Editor, Teacher Education
At our faculty senate meeting this month, a member presented data she had collected from a new online student evaluation system that was piloted in spring 2010. Students use this system to evaluate faculty and courses. Five instructors participated, collecting feedback in nine courses. The one statistic that struck me most forcefully was the 44% response rate. In my experience and that of other faculty I have talked to, about 50% of the students who are asked to complete online evaluations do so.
My colleague’s report dismayed me. For faculty at my university who are promotion/tenure track, student evaluations are a critical part of their documentation. In my department, they are also a critical part of the annual review process. Therefore, I am compelled, when I teach face-to-face and hybrid classes, to give my students paper-pencil evaluations to complete so that I have a higher rate of return. My university (and I) would like to move toward online evaluations, but until higher rates can be guaranteed faculty will be reluctant to use them.
Does anyone out there have research that indicates these low return rates for online evaluations are the norm? What reasons have been identified for students’ lack of response? I know that there are “tips” for how to improve rates. Which ones have you found to be the most effective?
[Note: Please see Lynn’s follow-up article, “What Can We Do About Low Returns for Online Student Evaluations?” (10.12.10). -js]
Filed under: Uncategorized |