Raising Student Evaluation Response Rates

Student evaluations of teaching play a crucial role in professional and course development and in the personnel review process. If they are to be useful, it is important that the data they provide be as accurate as possible. Unfortunately, students are not always motivated to complete them, perhaps because they don’t realize their voice is valued in this process. It is also well-documented that response rates for online evaluations are lower than for in-person administration. There are concrete strategies available to increase participation; however, and research points to creating a positive classroom culture and having explicit discussions of evaluations and specific ways they have been/will be used to inform courses as particularly effective (Chapman & Joines, 2017). A summary of some additional techniques is included below.

  • Make an announcement about evaluations in person (if possible) and in your Canvas course. Do this at the beginning and near the end of the survey period. Be sure to explain why student feedback is important and give specific examples of how you have used it in the past to revise classes. If you are teaching online, you could accomplish this with a short video.
  • Provide some time in class or a space online for students to ask questions about evaluations and their uses at UWGB.
  • Allow students time in class to complete their surveys, making sure to leave the “room” when you do. You should not be present when students complete evaluations. If you do provide time, note that ending class early to do so may only result in students leaving. In online courses, you might factor additional time for evaluations into your calculations of workload for the week and let students know that.
  • Assure students that the surveys are anonymous. Reinforce the point by leaving the physical or Zoom room when the students take them.
  • Include the direct link or QR code for your specific course evaluation in the Canvas announcement. You might also attach this helpful Knowledge Base article so students know how to locate the surveys for all their classes or even show in-person students where to find the necessary information.
  • Put “Complete Course Evaluation” as a task in your Canvas shell and include it on the calendar so it shows up on students’ “To Do” list for the class.
  • Bring the topic of the evaluations up several times during the period they are open, so they remain top of mind for students, even if you’ve already allowed time to complete them in class.
  • Monitor overall response rates for your classes during the open period. Ethically, you cannot award credit for completing an evaluation, and remember they are anonymous. You can, though, make classes aware of response rates and even create a contest between course sections to see who can achieve the highest overall response rate by a specific date. Offer a non-tangible prize to the winning class, such as bragging rights or a choice on a final assignment.
  • Throughout the semester, foster an environment of open communication and respect with students, which may motivate them to see their feedback as valued and worth taking the time to provide for you.

Chapman, D.D., & Joines, J.A. (2017). Strategies for increasing response rates for online end-of-course evaluations. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 29(1), 47-60. http://www.isetl.org/ijtlhe/

CATL Concierge Assistance

In addition to consultations and professional development opportunities, CATL offers a limited menu of “concierge” services to help make instructors’ lives a little easier. How to request any of these support services can be found in the descriptions below.

Canvas “Spot-Checks”

A Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant or Instructional Designer will do a spot check of your course in Canvas. A few things we always check for include course organization, whether features are turned on or off, and basic accessibility features. If there’s something specific you’d like to get a closer look, such as the setup of discussion groups or grading breakdown, let us know. Request a once-over by emailing CATL@uwgb.edu.

Transparency Checks

Not sure if your instructions are clear? Looking for a better way to phrase something because students always seem to miss your meaning? Send CATL@uwgb.edu a copy (or direct link in Canvas) of your instructions, syllabus language, etc. and we’re happy to take a look for transparency, inclusive language, and student-centered language. Looking to work with someone to review an entire course? We encourage you to schedule a consultation.

Canvas Integrations

In order to best manage instructor and student data in Canvas, campus Canvas admins ask that instructors wishing to use an integration requiring administrator action complete a request for integrations for their courses. The request form is available here.

A list of available apps is available on this page. Other limitations (such as whether we have an institutional license) vary by product. External App approval is done by UW-System based upon publisher compliance with System policies. To request an integration not listed, please email DLE@uwgb.edu. Most requests take 30-60 days to complete.

Caption Generation

Videos posted in Kaltura My Media now automatically generate “machine captioning.” This is an important step in making course materials accessible, but it isn’t perfect. If you require full-accuracy captions to comply with an SAS request, please email DLE@uwgb.edu with a sharable link to each video requiring captions.

Text-to-Canvas Quiz Conversion

CATL has limited access to a tool for converting and importing “quizzes” (or exams) to Canvas. The tool converts a formatted text document (.txt, .rtf, or Word) into a Canvas ‘quiz.’ Details of the formatting required can be found in this document (downloadable PDF). When you’ve got your document, use this brief form (instructor login required) to submit a link to the intended course and your documents of 20 or more questions for CATL to convert and upload. Note that depending on the volume of requests, it may take some time for CATL to process your document. We will upload your exam directly into Canvas in the Quizzes area and the confirmation message that the exam is available will include information on how to finish applying settings and making the exam available to students.

The Things We’ll Carry (May 14, 2021. 11 a.m– 12 noon)

The last year has changed the way we engage with students. A health crisis changed the means of classroom engagement while also putting a new onus on compassionate interactions with students. At the same time, social crises spurred many of us to engage students in conversations around how our disciplines could help them make sense of their world in new and more complicated ways. Many may have also helped students engage directly with bringing about a new and better world in response to the overlapping social/political/and health crises. CATL and the Center of Civic Engagement would like to engage with you in a discussion on what you will carry forward from this year and make a permanent part of your teaching. We will host a discussion on May 14 from 11am to noon (this link opens a Teams meeting). We hope to spend some time reflecting and engaging with you.