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, as they have more time to reflect and can type their responses.
  • Online evaluations are more securely anonymous than those conducted in class because 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 improve the response rates of 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 on the basis of 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 are helpful, too. Our online ratings provider, EvaluationKit, has a feature that shows the instructor the day-to-day class response rate during the submission period. So, if you find that only 50 percent of students in a course have filled out 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 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 to class and give them 15 to 20 minutes of class time 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.

In November 2013, faculty who received response rates of 80 percent and above for spring 2013 classes were asked how they encouraged students to fill out the evaluation forms. More than 100 faculty members responded; here is a summary of responses to the question, “How did you do it?”

 
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