Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Online Faculty and Course Evaluation

When did the university switch to online course evaluations?      
Why was the change away from paper evaluations made? 
Where can I go for help?
What are the university core questions?
Can departments add their own questions?
Can individual faculty members add questions?
What happens if students’ inboxes are full, preventing delivery reminders to evaluate courses? 
What is the participation rate for online evaluations? Do fewer students participate?
Will ratings be lower for online evaluations than paper evaluations?
When will evaluation data be available after the end of a term? 
Can faculty review the responses of one particular student?
Is it possible to compare several semesters’ worth of data?
Who has access to the data?
Does the analysis include incomplete evaluations?
Can students save responses without submitting, then return to complete the form?
Are all classes evaluated every term? 
Is this system accessible to students with disabilities?
Do department chairs or administrative coordinators have automatic access to faculty data?
What happens if instructors swap sections?
Can I have access to my teaching assistant or graduate assistant’s data?
Are students required to complete an evaluation to get a grade?
How are team-taught and taught-with courses handled? 
When are evaluations available for students to complete?

When did the university switch to online course evaluations?

A number of individual Ball State units pioneered this approach for the university over the course of the past several years. In spring 2010, a formal pilot program consisting of about 115 courses tested paperless course evaluations. Since the first summer term, 2010, all course evaluations have been conducted online.

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Why was the change away from paper evaluations made?

The shift reflects the university’s efforts to trim costs without sacrificing the quality of a Ball State education or degrading student services. The university has realized (and continues to realize) considerable savings (not to mention environmental benefits) by reducing the amount we spend on paper and printing. In addition, changing to online course evaluations frees up considerable time for our student employees, graduate assistants, and staff members to work on other important tasks; provides results more quickly to departments; and increases class time available for other priorities in the last week of the term. Hassles such as finding No. 2 pencils and proctors for evaluations and attempting to decipher handwritten comments are now a thing of the past.

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Where can I go for help?

If you need assistance with the course registration system, you can contact the Technology HelpDesk at 765-285-1517 or send an e-mail to evaluations@bsu.edu.

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What are the university core questions?

The core questions are those that are asked on every course evaluation across the university, regardless of the department offering the course in question.

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Can departments add their own questions?

Beginning in the fall 2010 semester, departments are able to add whatever questions are appropriate to evaluations for their courses. The core questions will remain on the evaluations for every course.

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Can individual faculty members add questions?

The “Manage Question” option is available before each evaluation period, which allows you to add up to ten custom questions to your own teaching and course evaluations. These questions are in addition to the university core and any department questions that may be in place already, so you would want to make sure you are not duplicating existing questions. You can add questions beginning approximately one week before each evaluation period begins; a reminder is sent via the Comm Center.

Instructions are available, as is a video produced by the vendor that provides our course evaluation service, Digital Measures.

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What happens if students’ inboxes are full, preventing delivery reminders to evaluate courses?
If a student’s Ball State inbox is full, he or she will not receive the notification. Students are informed at Orientation that Ball State e-mail accounts are used for official university communication and should be checked regularly. However, please remind your students to make sure their mailboxes are not full and that forwarding information, if applicable, is accurate and up-to-date. Regardless of whether students receive the reminders, they can visit teaching evaluations directly to access their course evaluations.

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What is the participation rate for online evaluations? Do fewer students participate?

Because students complete online evaluations on their own time, response rates tend to be lower than for in-class evaluations. Participation often is 100 percent of the students who are in class on the day a paper evaluation is given. Students who missed class that day, of course, miss the evaluation, resulting in an overall participation rate of about 80 percent. With online evaluations, all students in the section have an equal opportunity to participate. Individual course response rates will vary, but are generally between 50 percent and 60 percent. The university has used multiple approaches to encourage participation in different terms, including offering priority course registration to randomly selected participants and delaying the availability of final grades for students who do not complete their evaluations.

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Will ratings be lower for online evaluations than paper evaluations?

At Ball State, comparisons thus far have not shown significant differences between online and paper evaluations. Other institutions have noted that online evaluations may be one-tenth to two-tenths of a point lower on a five-point scale.

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When will evaluation data be available after the end of a term?

In the past, compiling reports could take up to six weeks. Using the online system, all evaluation data will be made available immediately after grades have been officially recorded, generally within a week of the end of the final examination period.

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Can faculty review the responses of one particular student?

Faculty members can see how a single student answered each question along with any comments that were made; however, to preserve anonymity, the identity of that student is not linked to the responses. Essentially, faculty members will have an electronic equivalent of the previous paper form.

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Is it possible to compare several semesters’ worth of data?

Data from each semester beginning with summer 2010 will be stored and available. Faculty can create reports that span semesters as readily as running reports for the semester that was just completed.

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Who has access to the data?

As with paper forms, departments and colleges will retain responsibility for determining how the evaluations are used for promotion and tenure and other personnel matters, as well as who beyond the faculty members themselves has access to summary reports and other data. 

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Does the analysis include incomplete evaluations?

If a student leaves a question blank, his or her response is excluded for that question only.

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Can students save responses without submitting, then return to complete the form?

No responses are saved or recorded until a student clicks “submit.” Students can access the form to read the questions and return later to answer, but any responses made on previous visits are not retained if the student returns to the incomplete form at a later time. Students can submit only one evaluation per course, so they should be certain their responses are complete and accurate before submission.

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Are all classes evaluated every term?

All classes with an enrollment of four students or more will be evaluated each term. But, although the responses are collected, individual departments may differ on their policies concerning how that information is used for personnel decisions.

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Is this system accessible to students with disabilities?

Digital Measures solutions are compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. To ensure that evaluation forms are accessible to users with visual impairments, the screens can be used in conjunction with a screen reader. Other disabilities may require accommodations available from the Learning Center or Disable Student Development.

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Do department chairs or administrative coordinators have automatic access to faculty data?

No, there is not automatic access. Department chairs need to submit a request for access to evaluations@bsu.edu.

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What happens if instructors swap sections?

Whenever instructors swap sections, these changes need to be reflected in Ball State’s official course database. Evaluations erroneously attributed to another instructor will be deleted, as there is no mechanism to reassign data from one faculty member to another.

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Can I have access to my teaching assistant or graduate assistant’s data?

The TA or GA or someone in your department who has access to all the data will need to provide you with the relevant results.

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Are students required to complete an evaluation to get a grade?

No, students are not required to submit an evaluation. However, in fall 2012, students who do not complete evaluations will have access to their final grades delayed by several days. This change is meant to encourage complete participation in the course evaluation process, which provides feedback critical to improving the learning experiences of future students. We know that this feedback is important to the faculty, and we want to be sure that you have what you need.

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How are team-taught and taught-with courses handled?

Up to three instructors can be listed for team-taught courses. When a student opens the evaluation, the questions are duplicated for each instructor. Each instructor will then receive only the responses to questions concerning him or her.

Taught-with courses are shown in our database as separate courses, even if both meet at the same location and time. For example, if there were 12 students in a 350 course and two students in a 550 course, only the students in the 350 course would receive evaluation invitations because the 550 course has fewer than four students enrolled. If each taught-with course has four or more students enrolled, the instructor can create a combined report by clicking “run ad hoc reports.”

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When are evaluations available for students to complete?

Evaluations will be available for completion the last two weeks of the semester before finals begin.

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Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Administration Building (AD), Room 106
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306

Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Summer hours: Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Phone: 765-285-1333
Fax: 765-285-5198
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