University Business November/December 2019 - 19

TECH PERSPECTIVES

Getting the most out
of course evaluations
Asking the right questions (in the right way) and putting the data to use are important
By Kelly Walsh

S

tudent course evaluations: We all
do them, but how do we use the
data? What percentage of students
complete the surveys? What value do
faculty and administrators derive from
them? Are they inherently biased? How
can we get more out of the often onerous
evaluation process?
These are important questions, particularly if course evaluations carry a lot
of weight at our colleges and universities.
There are no easy answers, but let's consider some possibilities.
Going mobile
If only a small percentage of students are
completing course evaluations, we may
be missing out on a wider range of perspectives. This is particularly problematic
for small classes. The College of Westchester, a small, private institution in
White Plains, New York, faced this challenge and made changes to address it.
Senior Programmer/Analyst John
Jurgens explains a recent change: "We
recoded the evaluations' user interface
to be mobile friendly so that we could
deliver them through the college's smartphone app."
While it will take time to assess the
change's effectiveness, Jurgens says that
for a recently completed term, the evaluation completion rate roughly doubled
in a few days.
Improving the usefulness of feedback
One idea that may be helpful is to re-

UBmag.me/evaluations
UniversityBusiness.com

While negative comments
can be frustrating and
off-putting, we should
focus on those that offer
useful insights and take
them seriously.
quire more qualitative feedback in course
evaluations. Numerical summations of
quantitative results are certainly convenient, but they aren't always helpful.
(Keep in mind, however, that results
are also influenced by the specificity of
the questions.) Consider reducing the
number of questions and having more of
them require text-based feedback, such
as: "What would you change about how
this course is taught?"
Gathering input during the course
Learning at the end of a course that students were frustrated may help you the
next time you teach it, but the students
who just completed the course remain
frustrated. We should consider gathering
input earlier. This can be done through
dialogue or a quick one- or two-question
survey. Questions could be as simple
as: "What have you liked most or least
about the course so far?" Earlier evaluations also help to set the expectation of
providing feedback.
Setting expectations
Manya Whitaker is a developmental
educational psychologist, an author, and
an associate professor of education at
Colorado College. In her article, "How
to Make the Best of Bad Course Evalua-

tions" (UBmag.me/mwhitaker), she reminds us that while negative comments
can be frustrating and off-putting, we
should focus on those that offer useful
insights and take them seriously.
Whitaker offers some useful suggestions on how to assess evaluation
feedback and make meaningful changes.
For example, when students write that
a professor spent too much or too little
time on a topic, and the professor does
not agree, it often means that students
did not fully understand the goals of the
course. Professors can help to prevent
this by starting the course with a discussion on what the course is and what it is
not. Make sure syllabuses are explicit.
Setting expectations upfront about
content, outcomes, grading criteria and
other factors may mean fewer student
complaints about grading or about the
course being too hard or too easy.
Whitaker also observes that course
evaluations are highly biased and are not
a thorough measure of an instructor's effectiveness in the classroom.
Factoring in inherent bias
Numerous studies over the years have
shown some inherent bias in course
evaluations, so that must be factored into
assessments of results. Some have called
for discontinuing the use of evaluations
because of bias. But without them, students would miss out on an opportunity
to express their opinions and faculty
would lose access to feedback that helps
to improve the quality and impact of
their work.
Kelly Walsh is CIO of The College of Westchester in New York.
November/December 2019 | 19


http://www.UBmag.me/mwhitaker http://www.UBmag.me/evaluations http://www.UniversityBusiness.com

University Business November/December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business November/December 2019

University Business November/December 2019 - Cover1
University Business November/December 2019 - Cover2
University Business November/December 2019 - 1
University Business November/December 2019 - 2
University Business November/December 2019 - 3
University Business November/December 2019 - 4
University Business November/December 2019 - 5
University Business November/December 2019 - 6
University Business November/December 2019 - 7
University Business November/December 2019 - 8
University Business November/December 2019 - 9
University Business November/December 2019 - 10
University Business November/December 2019 - 11
University Business November/December 2019 - 12
University Business November/December 2019 - 13
University Business November/December 2019 - 14
University Business November/December 2019 - 15
University Business November/December 2019 - 16
University Business November/December 2019 - 17
University Business November/December 2019 - 18
University Business November/December 2019 - 19
University Business November/December 2019 - 20
University Business November/December 2019 - 21
University Business November/December 2019 - 22
University Business November/December 2019 - 23
University Business November/December 2019 - 24
University Business November/December 2019 - 25
University Business November/December 2019 - 26
University Business November/December 2019 - 27
University Business November/December 2019 - 28
University Business November/December 2019 - 29
University Business November/December 2019 - 30
University Business November/December 2019 - 31
University Business November/December 2019 - 32
University Business November/December 2019 - 33
University Business November/December 2019 - 34
University Business November/December 2019 - 35
University Business November/December 2019 - 36
University Business November/December 2019 - 37
University Business November/December 2019 - 38
University Business November/December 2019 - 39
University Business November/December 2019 - 40
University Business November/December 2019 - 41
University Business November/December 2019 - 42
University Business November/December 2019 - 43
University Business November/December 2019 - 44
University Business November/December 2019 - 45
University Business November/December 2019 - 46
University Business November/December 2019 - 47
University Business November/December 2019 - 48
University Business November/December 2019 - 49
University Business November/December 2019 - 50
University Business November/December 2019 - 51
University Business November/December 2019 - 52
University Business November/December 2019 - 53
University Business November/December 2019 - 54
University Business November/December 2019 - 55
University Business November/December 2019 - 56
University Business November/December 2019 - 57
University Business November/December 2019 - 58
University Business November/December 2019 - 59
University Business November/December 2019 - 60
University Business November/December 2019 - Cover3
University Business November/December 2019 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0520
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0320
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0120
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_1119
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_1019
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0819
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0719
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0619
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0419
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0319
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0119
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_1218
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_1118
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_1018
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0918
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0818
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0718
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0618
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0518
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0418
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0318
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0218
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0118
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_1217
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_1117
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_1017
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0917
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0817
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0717
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0617
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0517
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0417
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0317
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0217EPUB
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0217
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0117
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_1216
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_1116
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_1016
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0916
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0816
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0816CG
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB0716
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/GlobalSellSheet
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0616
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0516
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB0416
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB0316
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB_0216r2
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UBGuide
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB0116
https://www.nxtbook.com/pmg/UB/UB
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201511
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201510
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201509
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201508
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201508_ConsultantsGuide
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201507
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201506_AudioVisualSolutions
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201505
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201504
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201503
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201502
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201501
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201501_FinancialServicesGuide
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201412
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201411
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201410
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201409
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201408
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201408_ConsultantsGuide
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201407
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201406
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201406_AudioVisualSolutions
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201404
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201403
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201402
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201401
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201401_FinancialServicesGuide
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201312
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201311
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201310
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201309
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201308
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201308_ConsultantsGuide
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201307
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201306_AudioVisualSolutions
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201306
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201305
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201303
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201302
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201301
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub201301_FinancialServicesGuide
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub1212
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub1112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub1012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0912
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub_cg12
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub070812
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0612
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub_avguide0612
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0512
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0412
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0312
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0212
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub_financeguide0112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub1211
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub1011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0911
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub_cg11
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0711
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0611_av
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0611
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0511
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0411
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0311
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0211
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0111
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub_financeguide0111
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub1110
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub1010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub_2010financeguide
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub_2010consultants
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub_2010avguide
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0710
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0610
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0510
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0410
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0310
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0210
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0110
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub1109
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub1009
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0909
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0709
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub_fg09
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0609
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0509
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0409
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0309
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0209
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0109
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub1208
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub1108
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub1008
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0908
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0808
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0608
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0508
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0408
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0308
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0208
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0907
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0807
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0707
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0507
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0407
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0307
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0207
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0107
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub1206
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub1106
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub1006
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0906
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0806
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0706
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0606-GG
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0606
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pmg/ub0406
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com