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Student Evaluation of Instruction/Course

February 24, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the Student Evaluation of Instruction/Course (SEI/C)?

The SEI/C is designed to help provide feedback to educators and ultimately improve the student experience. It will help us to continue building on our strengths.

Why is the College evaluating all courses?

The key thing going forward to ensure that the surveys provide valuable information to instructors and programs. By expanding the scope, there’s a better chance that we’ll have a more complete picture of what students think about the classes they’re taking.

Why did the Student Evaluation of Instruction/Course change from the previous method?

Previously SEI/C was done with a paper survey and only select instructors/courses were surveyed. As a result only a fraction of all courses could be done. This often meant the same instructors and courses were surveyed every year.

Why is it online?

Paper might seem easier in the classroom but getting the right paper to the right class for the right instructor is very challenging. In order to be able to survey college-wide where all classes can be assessed throughout the year, there is really no choice but to go online. During the Pilot Project, there were 30,000 evaluations active and that was for a single term and excluded Distance Education courses. Logistically, there is no way to administer that many paper surveys throughout the college, scan them, transcribe the comments, and then analyze them.

The other good thing about the online version is that Instructors will now receive individualized reports for each section as soon as final grades are submitted, and these will include benchmarks with other instructors in the program.

Why do the evaluations have to be done in-class?

Generally speaking, online surveys completed outside of class do not have an adequate response rate. In-class delivery brings the response rate closer to ideal. The challenge is that we lack the technological capacity to do this in class, unless students are in a computer lab, or they use smart phones or other devices.

What can we tell students who have a “what’s in it for me” mentality?

It’s important to let all students know that educators take the feedback very seriously – it helps us identify what might be improved. Even though students don’t see the results and comments from SEI/C, all students benefit from the feedback that other students gave about their next instructor.

How confidential are the results (student/instructor)?

The software being used is designed to specifically handle course evaluations on a confidential basis. When Chairs and instructors get their online reports, they will only see the aggregate responses. The survey is conducted pre-exams and the results are only released after final grades are submitted.

When do the instructors get their reports?

Reports are released after the final grades have been submitted.

 What is the timing for the survey period?

Any course that is 15 days or longer will be surveyed if it ends during the evaluation time period. The upcoming second project will run from March 1st to June 30th. For the next academic year (2015-16) and on from there, the evaluation periods will run from July 1st to December 30th, and January 1st to June 30th.

The evaluation period for each course starts 4 weeks before the end of the course and runs for 3 weeks starting with an invitation email being sent to the academic email address for full-time students and preferred email address for part-time students. The 1st reminder email goes out to students 7 days after the invitation email was received. The 2nd reminder goes out two days before the end of the evaluation period. The evaluation period ends 1 week before the course ends so there is no disruption of any exams during the final week.

Who is responsible for having students do their evaluations in-class (i.e. instructors are not supposed to be in the classroom)?

Chairs and coordinators will work with academic staff.

Is the survey mandatory?

The College has a policy that mandates that students have the opportunity to evaluate all their courses and their instructors. The policy states that, “Instructors will have the opportunity to be evaluated by his/her students and to receive feedback on his/her teaching performance. Each student will have this opportunity for each of his/her instructors. This policy will apply to all College instructors and courses.”

As for the students, it is strongly encouraged that they participate but it is definitely not mandatory. Instructors can encourage their students to check their academic email (full-time students) or preferred email (part-time students) and let them know when arrangements have been made for them to complete the survey(s) during class time.

If the threshold status is not met, does that mean no one replied to the survey? If the data presented in the report is considered to be insufficient, does that mean the report isn’t really valid?

The SEI/C system has two thresholds. The first threshold relates to the number of students replying to the survey. A Respondent Threshold was set at five for reports made for instructors’ reports. This minimum number, five, is set to help preserve the anonymity of responses. So “not met” can be any number between zero and four.

The second threshold relates to the reliability of the assessments. The Reliability measure sets a minimum threshold of responses – that way readers of the results can have more confidence in the findings. For example, if five students complete the survey there are enough to meet the Respondent Threshold but if there were one hundred students in the class, one wouldn’t have much confidence in the ratings. With so few responses, it becomes too easy to attribute the results to “weaker” students, or “stronger” students, or “happy/unhappy” students.

Note: the information for course sections that have not met the sample requirements is not lost. The student responses are included in the overall program and departmental summaries. The reports for the department and program will include the responses of all students, including those from course sections that had insufficient samples.

What is the course selection criterion?

  • Courses that have a faculty member (excluding educational assistants) attached to the section.
  • Courses that are more than 14 days long.
  • Excluded: courses such as WHMIS courses, General Safety training courses, accreditation courses, ALC exam courses, supplemental courses, and RPL courses.

When and how will instructors be informed that they are included in the current SEI/C?

Any instructor who is teaching a section of a course that ends during the current SEI/C project time period* will be included in the evaluations that the student is asked to complete. Chairs can inform Instructors when their students are scheduled to participate in the SEI/C.

The current SEI/C project time period is from March 1, 2015 until June 30, 2015. After that the projects will run from July 1st to December 31st and January 1st to June 30th every year.

How can we help the students if they have questions?

A FAQ page was created for students based on questions emailed to Research and Planning. The SEI/C Online Survey Manual provides information and images of what the student sees starting with their initial email invitation, and includes images of the pages in the online form.