Evaluating your Course
Evaluation of the content, design and methods is an important component that should be built into your course design. Feedback and carefully crafted surveys help you improve the quality and effectiveness of your course and instruction. These tools yield valuable information to aid in revising or enhancing the course for future offerings.
Students tend to give more accurate feedback when the experience is still fresh. Most instructors strongly encourage the students to participate in the evaluation.
Designing the Evaluation
If you want to collect feedback that can be used for continuous improvement throughout the course, consider building in evaluations at different points throughout. Ideal moments to collect feedback are at mid-term, following key assignments, or at the end of a unit or module. Most students appreciate the opportunity to comment on issues they feel are important.
Evaluations can be offered in the form of a short poll, discussion forum or chat, or a more comprehensive survey. Short evaluations that ask specific questions about each module or session are recommended throughout the course. Questions that target which activities students found the hardest, the easiest and what they feel helped them learn best will help you think about things from the student perspective and make adjustments accordingly. The quality of responses is likely to be much better when the experience is fresh in their minds and students are not overwhelmed with a long list of questions. Also feedback obtained while the course is in session allows a vigilant instructor to make adjustments in their teaching that are tailored to the group's specific needs.
The big general overall questions should be saved for an evaluation at the end. These questions can target areas of acceptability, student perceptions, satisfaction and attitude.
Other information that can be gathered from the course experience can often speak volumes about the student experience. Many LMSs collect data about when students access material, how long they take to complete tests and quizzes, etc. Non-technology related data such as the number of students who drop the class at certain times and scores on tests should all factor in to the overall picture of the student experience. Determining where and why students have trouble in the course is key for refining the course to suit student needs. By comparing all the data, it makes it easier to make reasonable assumptions about whether the content itself or the instruction methods need to be revised.
A couple other things to keep in mind when developing your evaluation are to:
- make sure you are only asking students about one item per question, and
- that students are able to answer the question from their personal experience.
MSU Online Course Evaluations
MSU has created online access to the Student Instructional Rating System (SIRS) and the Student Opinion of Courses and Teaching (SOCTS).
Be aware that ANGEL surveys in a class are not anonymous. You can, however, use ANGEL groups to offer anonymous surveys. A departmental staff member creates a group and adds students to the group manually. The instructor should not be added to this group. After the students have taken the survey, the staff member can then export the data to a tab delimited file which can be read by a program such as Excel. Once the data has been exported, it becomes anonymous.