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Course Evaluations Go Online This Summer

Posted: Jun 11, 2014

Picture of Brandy Scarnati

Instructor course evaluations that had been pencil on paper in the past, will now be offered online starting this Summer session, with the goal of 24/7 accessibility for students and a faster turnaround time for faculty and staff to obtain results.

Students will be able to access and complete course evaluations starting the week of June 23 for first summer term. An email invitation will be sent out to all student email addresses on June 16 with directions and a link to the evaluation form on Canvas, the interface for online instruction at Truckee Meadows Community College.

The invitation sent from WebCollege’s evaluation kit goes to the student’s preferred email inside Canvas. If the student updates and enters in another email, that is where the message is sent – if not, it goes to their TMCC account, said Brandy Scarnati, WebCollege Coordinator.

For face-to-face lecture classes taught by instructors who are not using Canvas, WebCollege will automatically publish a course for student access only to complete the instructor evaluation. For students taking a completely online course, the evaluation form will be announced on their Canvas course home screen.

Online evaluations are offered 24/7

Students will be able to fill out the survey whenever it works into their schedule.

“Online evaluations are more convenient for students because they can complete it whenever and wherever is best for them, right on their mobile device, in a computer lab or at home on their laptop,” Scarnati said. “It’s easy and fast – no more bubbles.”

Evaluation content will remain the same

“The online course evaluation questions have not changed; they are the same as the written form,” Scarnati said.

The forms are also completely confidential, as they were previously, and instructors will not see the evaluations until final grades have been posted. Following grade posting, staff may view the results through the course evaluation link in Canvas.

Faculty Senate was the driving force to move the forms to an electronic delivery mode, citing that online entry allows for instructors and administrators to see student comments more rapidly than transcription of written forms, Scarnati said. Some instructors did not want to use class time to complete the evaluations.

Administrative assistants previously entered pencil and paper documents into digital files one at a time.

“Instructor evaluations provide feedback for department chairs to see responses immediately and give them good resources to know about hiring decisions, or if an instructor needs assistance in a specific area,” said Scarnati. “Administrative assistants used to have to type them all up, and the new system will be timelier.”

Full time and part-time staff that have been trained in Canvas will also be able to receive the student evaluation data. Instructors not yet trained in Canvas can obtain the student comments by seeking the assistance of their department or the Part-time Faculty Office.

“This system will be less time-consuming for sure,” Scarnati said. “Instructors and departments will get the results as soon as grades are posted. The results will be archived for retrieval at any time.”

Online surveys will also make it possible to obtain a more accurate report by being offered at a time when students have completed more of their classes.

“We can now wait until later in the semester, when comments will better reflect the content of the course,” Scarnati said. “Before, they had to be done earlier in the semester to ensure timeliness, taking the time for processing and typing into account.”

The purpose of instructor evaluations is to improve courses

Instructor course evaluations are offered to give professors an opportunity to listen to honest, concise and constructive comments and use the information in planning future classes. TMCC seeks to improve course offerings and the way that classes are delivered, Scarnati said.

Professors have indicated that evaluations have been utilized to fine-tune the classes they teach.

“I look forward to reading the comments students give on the evaluations,” wrote Ralph McMullen, Business Instructor and Student Government Adviser. “It lets me know when I am focusing the class’s lessons effectively and when they need to be challenged more.”

Another professor agrees that in addition to polishing the delivery of a course, the surveys remind and inspire instructors in their strongest techniques and let them know what parts to keep.

“I enjoy reading students' comments because it validates my teaching style and informs me that I am an effective teacher,” wrote Dr. Christine Boston, Anthropology Instructor. “…there I also tell students that I welcome constructive feedback because as the student body changes so should my teaching, and their comments are what assist me in evolving my teaching so as to best meet my goal as a teacher: to educate my students so they can learn and apply the knowledge I teach to their everyday lives and experiences."

Professor Kurt Ehlers noted that an evening business calculus class was nearly filled with students who worked full time and who appeared exhausted following a long day on the job.

"I only learned that they really enjoyed the class after reading their positive critiques of the course," Ehlers wrote.



Posted by:
TMCC's Public Information Office
Telephone: 775-673-7087
Email: pio@tmcc.edu

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