Professional Learning: Course Evaluations

UPDATE - Fall 2021 Extended Technical Pilot

The college launched a small pilot in Fall 2019 using a new software by CampusLabs called CoursEvals. This pilot only included courses offered within the School of Business on Kingston campus. The pilot enabled SCTL & ITS to test a few technical details of the new software using the existing questions that had been implemented in the process when it was led by HROD prior for Fall 2019. The pilot was scheduled to continue in Winter 2020 but the college had to make a sudden shift to alternate delivery due to the pandemic. As a result, the course evaluation process was not active during the Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, and Spring 2021 terms.

Course evaluations will resume in Fall 2021 with an extended pilot so that we may continue to test some parameters of the software (now called "Course Evaluations" by Anthology). This technical pilot will include a larger amount of courses across all three campuses and all academic schools. In most cases, this translates to a selection process which enables faculty to receive feedback on one or two courses (e.g., 2 courses per Full-Time/Partial-Load Faculty and 1 course per Part-Time Faculty). The current pilot also limits the selection of courses to those that will end during week 13/14 at the end of the term.

This website includes a list of resources and narratives to help faculty learn more about the course evaluation process. We will update these resources as we receive more feedback from the extended pilot. We thank you for your patience and support as we undergo this pilot.

If you have any questions, please contact CoursEval@sl.on.ca.

Dashboard Login

Faculty and students can access Course Evaluations using two distinct dashboards depending on the user role. Faculty should use the "faculty dashboard" to review their results and students should use "student dashboard" to complete their evaluations. These links will remain consistent throughout every administration of the course evaluation process. Each link is available via SLC.me and students can also access the dashboard via URSLC App.

For additional technical support, please review the Technical Support section.

WHAT are course evaluations ?

Course Evaluations are online confidential questionnaires that ask students a series of questions about their teaching and learning experiences. These evaluations are typically associated to one course and its associated faculty member but could also be implemented in co-teaching environments with multiple faculty. They represent a formalized and structured opportunity for faculty to receive constructive feedback from students on the learning environment.

The questions that are being utilized within the Fall 2021 pilot contain slight revisions of the existing ones used in Fall 2019. These questions align with domains and constructs known to comprise effective teaching (i.e., course design, scholarly teaching, learner-centeredness, and professional development) (Simonson, Earl & Frary, 2021).

WHY are course evaluations important to teaching?

Teaching requires lifelong learning

Teaching involves continuous and ongoing professional development so that we maintain current in what we teach (our curriculum), how we teach (our pedagogy), and who we teach (our students). In order to maintain and extend teaching competencies, faculty are encouraged to continually revisit and expand upon the attitudes, knowledge, and skills they bring to student instruction, assessment, and evaluation.

“The fundamental purpose of evaluating teaching is, after all, to provide the best instruction for students” (Benton & Young, 2018, p.1).

What sources of information help inform our teaching practice?

As contemporary educators, we are encouraged to collect informal and formal feedback from students at multiple points in time throughout a course. These strategies provide rich opportunities to reflect on our current practice and potentially shift our approach to meet the needs of students.

  • Informally, faculty can use applications to poll your students at the start, midway through, and at the end of a lesson, learning experience, module of instruction, and/or course. Options for gathering informal feedback from students include: teacher-generated surveys (e.g., using Microsoft Forms within Teams), one-minute paper entrance or exit cards, facilitation of a student-led discussion, Muddiest Point question asking student for clarification on a concept, etc...

  • Formally, faculty can also encourage students to participate in centralized Course Evaluations, where students are asked to share their individual perspectives on their teaching and learning experiences, specific to each course/instructor.

The combination of both informal and formal approaches to collecting feedback helps provide a more holistic interpretation of the data.

“Receiving feedback about “how things are going” in the classroom can change instructors’ beliefs and attitudes about their students, strengthen confidence in teaching (Yi, 2012), and lead to improvements in instructor performance (Andrade & Cizek, 2010), as well as increases in students’ self-reported learning and satisfaction at the end of the term (Snooks, Neeley, & Revere, 2007)” (Benton & Young, 2018, pp. 3-4)

Contact the SCTL if you want to learn more informal strategies to seek feedback on your learning environments.

How can results from course evaluations be used developmentally?

“Evaluation without development is punitive and development without evaluation is guesswork.” —Michael Theall (2017, p. 91 )

Faculty, Program Coordinators, and Academic Leaders can use the results from course evaluations to better understand what is/not working well in specific courses and programs. This information can be combined with other sources of information to promote open dialogue in exploring potential improvements to the learning experience for students in a given program.

The different perspectives on course evaluations

The course evaluation process can serve different purposes depending on the individual but we always start with our Students First value by providing students a voice to share their experiences. This feedback can be used by Faculty and Program Leadership teams to review larger trends to improve existing programs or celebrate effective teaching strategies.

Students

Course evaluations are an important formalized opportunity for students to pause, self-reflect on the quality of their learning experiences, and identify opportunities for improvement to share with each course instructor.

Faculty

Faculty should use feedback from their course evaluations to identify areas of strength (i.e., evidence of teaching effectiveness to showcase in their teaching dossier), opportunities for continued growth (i.e., insights as to how you can improve from one semester or academic year to the next), and next steps for self-directed professional learning (i.e., actionable next steps explaining how you plan to close gaps between desired and current performance)

Program Leadership

Program leadership teams can use aggregated summary reports to identify patterns across similar courses from the perspective of students (i.e., areas of program strength, scaffolding skills, etc...). This data can inform program changes and opportunities for faculty to work together on collaborative teaching projects. “By focusing on individual efforts and comparing an instructor’s current progress to [their] past performance, rather than simply comparing one faculty member to another, administrators can help to foster a [growth] mindset that focuses on developing better teaching methods and skills. Such an approach instills confidence, treats individuals fairly, and leads to growth and success (JCSEE, 2009)” (Benton & Young, 2018, p.5).

WHEN & HOW will they be implemented?

Implementation Sequence for Course Evaluation Process

A typical sequence for the Course Evaluation Process will go through various stages to ensure students and faculty are well informed of the process.

  1. Course Selection - Associate Deans work with Faculty to select specific courses that will be included in the list of eligible courses

  2. Data Verification - SCTL will verify the data and input it into the application for launch

  3. Open Survey - the survey will become available to students for a specific time period (typically launched at 75% completion of a learning experience or course)

  4. Student/Faculty Reminders - both faculty and students will receive email reminders about the completion rate of the course evaluations. Faculty can monitor response rates while the course evaluation are open and encourage students to complete them before/after class.

  5. Close Survey - the links to the individual course evaluations will not longer be active as the evaluation closes for all student users

  6. Data Reports (Faculty/admin) - the reports will be released to the admin users once the survey is complete so they can verify the data and faculty will receive the full data reports after final grades have been submitted.

Faculty should encourage student participation throughout the course evaluation process so that the evaluations contain an acceptable response rate (i.e., Ideally, 100% or as close to 100% as possible). In the absence of full participation, the results could be misinterpreted as the student narrative is limited to a few representatives.

Course Evaluations Process: Steps

Frequently Asked Questions: Implementation

When do course evaluations happen?

Students are invited via email to complete a course evaluation once 75% of the course learning experiences have been completed. The administration period will differ for each course, depending on the length of course and when it is scheduled within a semester. Students will be given a window of time to complete their course evaluation, and an automatic reminder email will be sent only to those students who have yet to complete their course evaluations before the administration window closes.

How can I help students access their course evaluations?

Students can access their course evaluations in several ways:

  1. By clicking on the link to any email communication sent from courseval@sl.on.ca. This will prompt students to log in to the Course Evaluation software using their SLC username and password (i.e., their single sign-on);

  2. by logging into Blackboard, under “My Blackboard”, students will see a Course Evaluation section; and by

  3. using their SLC single sign-on to launch the Course Evaluation application by Anthology.

How many course evaluations do students need to complete?

It’s important to encourage your students to evaluate each and every one of their courses in their Course Evaluation dashboard and not just the ones that they particularly like or dislike. When participation rates are low, you risk getting an inaccurate or biased sample of students’ responses and feedback, which may not accurately or completely represent the diversity of student opinions and experiences. It’s difficult for educators to make sense of a small or incomplete sample of student responses.

Are student responses confidential?

Yes, students’ responses are confidential. As the course instructor, you will not be able to identify ‘who said what’ (unless a student accidentally discloses identifying information in their feedback). A summary report of your course evaluation results will only be generated and shared with you once:

  1. a minimum of five students have completed the online questionnaire; and

  2. after your final grades have been officially submitted. The results are presented in aggregate, which means you will receive a summary of your quantitative scores (numerical) and qualitative feedback (comments).

What about student biases?

All human beings hold implicit biases, which are unconscious beliefs and mindsets about people and their capacities, that we learn over time from our families, our community, and the media (including social media). At SLC, we all have a role to play when it comes to encouraging and reminding students to continuously reflect upon and identify any prejudices or stereotypes that could influence the way we collaborate and communicate with others. As the instructor, we encourage you to remind students that course evaluations will have an impact on real people in our SLC community. To respond fairly, students need to take the opportunity to reflect on and isolate their own implicit biases about their educator’s gender, race, sexual identity, or religion; none of which should impact the quality of educational experiences provided in the classroom.

“Bias also likely exists to some degree in any evaluation system because it is designed and carried out by humans. All sources of evidence—student ratings, peer observations, instructor self-assessments, and peer/supervisor reviews—are therefore subject to bias. But evaluation can still be useful, provided the system is well designed, multiple sources of evidence are submitted, and possible sources of bias are recognized.” (Benton & Young, 2018, p. 11)

Faculty Resources

Teaching Tips in Promoting Meaningful Feedback

We encourage faculty to review these evidence-based teaching strategies to help promote constructive feedback with students. You can cycle through these images using the image carousel below or download the associated document.

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Best Practices in the Evaluation of Teaching

IDEA Paper #69, by Benton and Young (2018) provides a rich overview of the theoretical principles informing student evaluation of teaching. This article is available for download through our online library.

Technical Support

What software is the college using for Course Evaluations?

Anthology (formerly Campus Labs) is the online course evaluation platform SLC is using to gather feedback from students about their learning experiences. Anthology was selected because it integrates into Blackboard, our LMS, and allows students to complete their online questionnaires using our SLC.me single log-in on any computer, tablet, or mobile device.

Support for Faculty

Accessing Course Evaluations

Faculty can access course evaluations through the following methods:

  1. Directly through this link: Faculty Home - Anthology (campuslabs.ca) ;

  2. By clicking the Course Evaluations icon on the SLC.ME homepage;

  3. Through the Course Evaluations links available on your main dashboard in Blackboard;

Technical Support

If you are having trouble accessing course evaluations, please contact the Anthology Course Evaluations support team directly at 1-716-270-0000 or by completing this form: Submit a request – Campus Labs Support (zendesk.com).

If you would like to learn more about Course Evaluations, please review resources on the vendor's support portal: Course Evaluation Help Center (campuslabs.com)

Further Questions?

If you have non-technical questions relating to Course Evaluations, please contact SLC's Course Evaluations team at courseval@sl.on.ca.

Support for Leadership

If you are a Dean or Associate Dean and you require assistance with Course Evaluations, please contact SLC's Course Evaluations team directly at courseval@sl.on.ca.

Support for Students

Technical Support

Students with problems accessing course evaluations should be directed to the Anthology Course Evaluations support team directly at 1-716-270-0000 or by completing this form: Submit a request – Campus Labs Support (zendesk.com).

Additional Information

Students should also be encouraged to visit http://www.learnatslc.ca for additional information

Need Help?

Contact the following email address if you have a question about the course evaluation process


Please Note: This account is monitored by select members of the SCTL that have administrative rights to the course evaluation software. This includes the Associate Dean of SCTL, Digital Learning Technology Administrator, and the Academic & Administrative Support Officer.

For all other teaching/learning inquiries, please refer back to our larger collaborative email (SCTL@sl.on.ca).

Selected References

Benton, S. L., Young, S., & IDEA Center. (2018). Best Practices in the Evaluation of Teaching. IDEA Paper #69. In IDEA Center, Inc. IDEA Center, Inc.

Simonson, S. R., Earl, B., & Frary, M. (2021). Establishing a Framework for Assessing Teaching Effectiveness. College Teaching. https://doi.org/10.1080/87567555.2021.1909528

Theall, M. (2017). MVP and Faculty Evaluation. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2017: 91–98. doi: 10.1002/tl.20271