Designing evaluation tools that ask the right questions for obtaining the information that instructors need to improve their teaching starts with designing effective class evaluation tools. Other useful hints include providing students with evaluation opportunities both during and after the course term, so that instructors can use the data gathered in current and future courses. Allowing enough time for a class evaluation to be completed and taking steps to protect student privacy can help an instructor get useful information from student assessments.
Many colleges and universities provide students with the opportunity to provide feedback having them complete a class evaluation for each course they take. The class evaluation is often given at the end of the course term so that students can reflect on their learning experiences and provide feedback to both their instructor and school administrators. A number of questions about the course curriculum, the instructor’s efficacy, and the relevance of course assignments, textbooks, and exams are typically included in evaluations. As part of the class evaluation, students may be given the opportunity to provide additional comments and feedback.
Schools frequently develop a standard class evaluation for their instructors to use, and they reevaluate the questions it contains on a regular basis. It is critical for both instructors and administrators to review the evaluations thoroughly. If students are consistently writing additional comments about a particular topic, this may indicate that the topic should be addressed in an evaluation question.
During the term, some instructors and schools conduct multiple class evaluations. Although school administration may not require it, new instructors, in particular, may wish to provide students with the opportunity to provide feedback a few weeks after the term begins or even at midterm. This allows students to provide feedback to the instructor on how to improve the course. Instructors who do offer an early class evaluation may want to use the opportunity to talk with students about the results of the evaluation in order to get more feedback and come up with ways to improve the course right away.
Students may be hesitant to give their honest opinions in the evaluations in some cases. This is because the student may believe that if he or she says something negative, the instructor will retaliate against him or her. Schools should establish procedures to protect students’ anonymity during the evaluation process. This could include requiring instructors to appoint a student to collect class evaluations and then leaving the classroom while the evaluations are conducted. Allowing students to complete evaluations online through a website that does not track users’ identities is another option.