Why did the university switch from paper to online course ratings?
A review by the Provost’s Office showed that the traditional system of handwritten student course ratings served neither faculty nor students well. Before the online system was introduced, the university was using nearly 20 rating forms, making compiling and analyzing the feedback very difficult. As teaching is the core purpose of the university, it is essential for students to have an effective means of providing feedback and for faculty to receive it. Online course ratings were piloted in the spring semester of 2010 at NSSR and Drama, and in spring 2011, students in courses at Parsons, NSSR, Lang, and Drama rated their classes using the online system. In fall 2011, all divisions switched to online course ratings.
What advantages does the online system offer students?
Studies show that students prefer online ratings. They appreciate the ability to complete the survey on their own time and the ease of online submission. Students also like having more time to think about their responses. In addition, many students feel that online evaluations offer greater anonymity, as they do not allow for identification by handwriting.
What are the advantages for faculty?
Online course evaluations provide faculty members with better-quality feedback in aggregated and easily understood formats. Faculty receive feedback soon after they have turned in their grades for the course, and, as students often provide lengthier, more thoughtful responses in online course ratings, faculty members may gain a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of a particular course.
Are there other advantages?
Instituting online evaluations is part of the shift to more sustainable and more user-friendly paperless processes and will save approximately 100,000 sheets of paper every year.
Is there a downside?
Faculty find the feedback from students extremely valuable, and the more students complete the evaluations, the more reliable it is. The primary challenge presented by online course ratings is getting full participation from students. When paper evaluation forms are distributed and collected in class, students are a “captive audience”; this advantage is lost with online evaluations. In spring 2011, students in courses at Lang, Parsons, Drama, and NSSR filled out close to 16,000 ratings forms—a response rate of 51 percent. However, experience at other universities shows that the response rate rises as online evaluations become part of student culture. Indeed, response rates increased in fall 2011, and the response rate from Drama students moved from 50 percent in 2010 to 79 percent in fall 2011.
How was the online course ratings form developed?
The new form was developed by a university-wide committee that included full-time faculty, part-time faculty, and academic administrators. Many of the questions were drawn from the forms already in use. The committee recognized that although The New School has a range of programs, many aspects of teaching, such as faculty preparation, organization, and respect for students, are relevant to all courses.
Why should I fill out a course survey?
Your professor relies on course rating surveys for feedback on the course and teaching methods. This feedback lets faculty know what aspects of the class are the most successful in teaching students and what aspects could be improved or changed. Without this information, it can be difficult for an instructor to reflect on and improve teaching methods and course design. In addition, program and department chairs and other administrators review course surveys. The New School counts on students to provide this important information.
What kinds of things are students asked to comment on?
The survey consists of 17 questions, answered with a ranking on a five-point scale, and four questions calling for written comments. Students are asked to comment on aspects of teaching and the course that they are in the best position to judge, such as the effectiveness of lectures and assigned activities, the instructor’s demeanor in class, and their own learning experience in the class. Students also have an opportunity to provide written comments on any aspect of the course.
Are the online evaluations confidential?
Yes. The New School is working with EvaluationKit, a reputable outside vendor, to manage the online course ratings process. EvaluationKit manages and stores the data on its own server, which is separate from the university. No faculty or staff members at The New School can access any information that would identify individual student ratings or remarks.
Will my instructor see my evaluation before he or she submits grades for the course?
No. All students in the class must be graded before evaluation results are released for the course.
What is EvaluationKit? What information do they have about me?
EvaluationKit manages student course evaluations for more than 100 universities. EvaluationKit's software works with Blackboard to obtain student registration information to create surveys and send emails, but no passwords or other confidential information is shared with EvaluationKit.
How do I log in to EvaluationKit to complete my evaluations?
If you are a student with open evaluations, click on the link in the course ratings email you received. You can also access your evaluations through Blackboard. Click on the "Tools" link on the left side of the screen in any Blackboard class, and then on "EvaluationKit User Access." You can also email email@example.com, and we'll send you a new link.
Can I forward my link to someone else?
No, please do not forward your link. Your link connects only to your personal evaluation dashboard. Others can log in to the evaluation software though Blackboard or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a new link.
I missed the evaluation deadline, but I would like to evaluate my professor. Can I still submit an evaluation?
No. After the evaluation period has ended, it is not possible to submit an evaluation. Please ensure that you complete evaluations before the period ends.
Do course ratings provide useful and valid information?
Student course ratings are widely accepted as a means of gathering valuable information for both evaluating and improving teaching. Extensive research demonstrates their reliability and validity. Read the research summary (PDF) or the Guidelines for Interpreting Student Course Ratings (PDF).
Can the form be tailored by faculty members to suit their courses?
Yes. Members of the faculty can add up to four additional questions to their rating forms. The added questions can be chosen from the question bank or devised by the faculty member. For more information, go to www.newschool.edu/leadership/provost/students/course-ratings/guidelines-faculty-added-questions.
How can I encourage my students to fill out their ratings surveys?
Faculty play an important role in encouraging students to fill out their surveys. Read the Tips for Full-Time Faculty on Improving Student Response Rates.
Will students see their grades before they fill out evaluations?
No. Although faculty members can input grades during the evaluation period, students do not have access to grades until the period is over. Faculty should still submit grades through self-service but may want to delay informing students about their grades through email, Blackboard, or other methods until the evaluation period has ended.
Are my course ratings made public?
No. Faculty members' course ratings are always considered confidential. They are not made available to students or the public in any form.
When will I have access to my evaluation reports?
Instructors who have submitted grades are given access to evaluation reports approximately two weeks after the end of the semester, when an email is sent from the provost's office containing a link to the reports. However, evaluation results for a course are not shared with the instructor until grades have been assigned for all students in the class.
How do I get access my course ratings?
You will receive an email with a link to EvaluationKit; you can also access EvaluationKit through a link in the Tools section of Blackboard. If you are both a student and an instructor or administrator, you may need to change your setting to access your course evaluations. Look at your name in the upper right corner of the EvaluationKit screen. Use the box next to your name to change your role. If you have questions about access to your evaluations, email email@example.com.
My course doesn't have an evaluation. Why?
A few classes, such as independent study sections or classes with few students, are not evaluated. Please ask your program office for more information.
Can a student who has withdrawn from a course fill out a ratings survey?
Any student who is active on your roster one week before the evaluation period can complete an evaluation. A student who receives a grade of WF is removed from the grade roster when the grade is entered. If you have determined before the end of the term that a student will receive a grade of WF because of lack of attendance and failure to complete assignments, you can enter the grade in MyNewSchool before the end of the semester. If the grade is entered at least one week before the evaluation period, the student will not be able to submit an evaluation for the class.
Email Provost@newschool.edu. We'll do our best to answer all questions.