Tips for Faculty to Increase Student Response Rate
Universities are beginning to collect student course ratings online for several reasons.
- Online evaluations are easier to administer and harder to misplace.
- Students prefer online evaluations and tend to provide qualitatively richer feedback since they have more time to reflect and can type their responses.
- Online evaluations are more securely anonymous than those conducted in class because since there is no handwriting to recognize nor any other information by which instructors or administrators could easily connect evaluations to particular students.
- Online evaluations provide the faculty with more immediate, more reliable, more thoughtful feedback. Online evaluations are a consistent with a sustainable approach, being paperless.
The primary challenge in collecting student ratings online is that, without special efforts, response rates are likely to be lower than for in-class evaluations.
The crucial factor in achieving high response rates is faculty involvement.
When faculty members let students know how important evaluations are and how they use the feedback to improve their teaching and courses, students respond. Here are some ways you can help achieve robust response rates from your students:
- Tell students how much you value their feedback. If possible, give examples of changes you’ve made to courses in response to student evaluations. Even on the first day of class, you can mention changes you’ve made to the course based on past student ratings.
- Reassure students that 1) responses are anonymous and 2) you will not see the results until after final grades have been submitted.
- List “Complete student ratings survey” on your syllabus as an assignment for the final week of class.
- Email reminders—the online system will automatically send reminders to students who have not filled out course surveys, but faculty reminders will be very helpful too. Our online ratings provider, EvaluationKit, has a feature that shows the instructor the specific class response rate day-to-day during the submission period. So, if you find that only 50 percent of students in a course have filled evaluations with only a few days remaining, remind them of the importance of receiving feedback from everyone in the class.
- Students can fill out ratings surveys on iPhones and Androids, as well as on their laptops. Remind them of these options. If all or most of your students have these tools, you might consider asking them to bring their phones and laptops in class and provide them with 15-20 minutes of classtime to fill out surveys.
- Conduct your own midterm evaluations: Faculty members who conduct midterm evaluations often have higher end-of-term course evaluation response rates, since students can see the positive effects of their midterm feedback.