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Weekly Tip: Approaches to Increasing Student Evaluation Rates

Student evaluations can offer a great source of insight for instructors and administrators by providing valuable feedback for revising courses and degree programs. However, getting students to complete course evaluations can be tricky. How do we encourage students to participate in course evaluations?

Research shows that creating an environment of mutual respect, in which “student opinions are respected and addressed, and instructor needs are taken into consideration” is key to, and can result in, higher evaluation completion (Strategies for Increasing Response Rates (pdf)). Explaining the importance of evaluations and how feedback is used to modify a course can also work to increase response rates. 

Below are easily implemented strategies that can help students see the value in completing evaluations and increase evaluation response rates:

Communicate when evaluations will be available.

  • Find the exact date that course evaluations will be available to students and plan to talk with them beforehand.
    • Let them know their answers will be anonymous.
    • Let them know you will not see responses until AFTER final grades are submitted, but that you will see the response rate (all anonymous) after the survey opens.
    • Provide them with information about Explorance Blue, the WSU course evaluation program.
  • Create reminders two to three weeks before evaluations become available and while they are open.

Discuss what students should consider before completing evaluations.

  • Set aside time during class to talk about what type of evaluation responses would be useful.
    • If you meet synchronously, take a few minutes at the beginning or end of class.
    • If your class is asynchronous, plan an announcement or record a short message for students to view.   
  • Give specific examples of topics you would like feedback on, a few examples are:
    • Elements of the course, class content or your teaching style that students found helpful to the learning process.
    • Elements of the course they felt could be modified or removed.
    • Interesting highlights or elements of the class they enjoyed and would recommend including in future semesters.
  • Ask them to be constructive with their responses.
  • Ask for solutions, not just problems.

Let students know their opinion can make a difference.

  • Indicate that you will set time aside to read their responses thoroughly and carefully.
  • Stress that you value their opinions and you are open to adjusting your teaching strategies.
  • Give examples of adjustments you have made because of past evaluation responses.
  • Talk about modifications you see yourself making to the course.
    • Ask students their opinion on your ideas.
  • Explain how their responses could benefit future students and the degree program. For example, their responses might:
    • Increase the student success rate in the course and throughout the program.
    • Make the course more relevant to the degree program.
    • Help curriculum developers avoid repeating topics in multiple courses.

Preparation considerations for the next term

  • Use formative evaluation earlier in the course and act on the responses.
    • Give students multiple opportunities to give you feedback about their experiences through informal no-stakes surveys.
    • Immediately respond to the results and show students you are listening to their concerns.
  • Design your next course to include changes made in response to evaluation results.

Getting students to respond to course evaluations can be a challenge, but with a little preparation and communication, you can increase response rates and get valuable feedback on your course.   

Resources

This series of videos and teaching tips is presented by Academic Outreach and Innovation (AOI). We invite you to join the conversation. Share your tips and ask questions through this blog. If you would like these posts to be sent directly to your email each week, subscribe to the listserv by emailing aoi.li@wsu.edu.

For more information or to schedule time with an instructional designer or emerging technologist, contact aoi.li@wsu.edu or request training on demand. You can also visit the Spark Faculty Innovation Studio in room 102 any time from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, during the academic year.