Course Evaluations

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At FSU, student feedback matters. Faculty and administrators rely on feedback to improve courses, programs, and teaching methods. The Office of Distance Learning (ODL) administers course evaluations in accordance with Faculty Senate course evaluation policy and provides online access to survey results.  

Survey Instrument

FSU uses the Student Perception of Courses and Instructors (SPCI) survey instrument to evaluate courses and instructors. If they opt to complete the evaluations, students rate the course and the instructor on a number of predefined scales and provide additional feedback in free-response questions.

FSU requires evaluations for faculty, adjuncts, and graduate assistants who teach 1) undergraduate courses with 10 or more students in fall and spring terms or 2) graduate courses with 5 or more students in fall and spring terms.

Survey Format

ODL administers the SPCI each semester electronically via Course Evaluations & Surveys (formerly EvaluationKIT). When the evaluation window opens, ODL notifies students, and reminder notifications appear in Canvas until students complete the course survey or opt out. 

Access to Data

Public access to course evaluations is available via the public reporting portal.* The public portal provides quantitative summary reports of all evaluated courses but does not include responses for the free-response section. Free-response comments are viewable only by the instructor via a unique login (see How to View Survey Results for more information).

Public Reporting Portal

 

Due to the impact of COVID-19, data for Spring, Summer, and Fall 2020 are not included in the public reporting portal. Please e-mail us at odl-at@campus.fsu.edu if you would like to make a public records request for information about a course offered during that time frame. Be sure to include the course number, section number, and instructor name in your request. 

Student Anonymity

We protect the anonymity of students in every course evaluation survey submitted. FSU contracts with an outside vendor, Watermark Course Evaluations & Surveys (formerly EvaluationKIT), to manage and store evaluation data. Instructors do not have access to which students responded. FSU technology administrators do not have access to a student’s identifying data on any evaluation.

Customizing the Survey

During a pre-defined window, instructors are free to customize the electronic version of the SPCI by adding questions specific to their course. (If you’re an instructor adding custom questions, you’re the only one who can view responses for those questions.) Course evaluation coordinators may also add custom questions on behalf of their college or department.

Refer to the timeline below for the available window. (We’ll also notify you via email when each window opens and closes.) See How to Add Custom Questions for more information.

Course Evaluation Timeline

Though dates vary from semester to semester, the course evaluation timeline includes predetermined windows for making sure courses are current in the registrar’s master course schedule and custom questions are added (if desired). We notify instructors and departments by email as deadlines approach.

Date Summer 2023 Evaluation Windows
May 24 Administrative window opens for Sessions A and F (time to verify course information and add custom questions)
June 9 Evaluation window opens for Session A (students begin evaluating courses and instructors)
June 23 Evaluation window closes for Session A (last day to administer evaluations)
June 23 Evaluation window opens for Session F (students begin evaluating courses and instructors)
July 5 Administrative window opens for Sessions B and C (time to verify course information and add custom questions)
July 7 Evaluation window closes for Session F (last day to administer evaluations)
July 21 Evaluation window opens for Sessions B and C (students begin evaluating courses and instructors)
August 4 Evaluation window closes for Sessions B and C (last day to administer evaluations)
August 11 Reports released (all summer sessions)

*Course evaluation reports administered prior to the Fall 2013 term are archived in a separate online course evaluation archive. Evaluations predating the online archive can be found in the paper archives at Strozier Library on the main campus.


Course Evaluation FAQs

How do my students access the course surveys?

Students receive email notifications and login prompts in Canvas when the course evaluation window opens. They will continue to receive reminders until they complete the survey or the window closes.


What should I tell my students about course evaluations?

  • Feedback matters. Let students know that completing course evaluations is a way to make their voice heard and that instructors value their input. Participation in the feedback process empowers them to make a difference in courses for future students. Share this 2-minute video to emphasize the importance of course feedback.
  • Feedback is anonymous. Students are concerned about the privacy of their feedback. Assure them that FSU works with a third-party vendor to protect the anonymity of course evaluation content, so no one at the university can identify students or their responses.

Can instructors make a difference in response rates?

Absolutely. Instructors play an important role in encouraging student participation in course evaluations. Research shows higher response rates when students know that you value their feedback and will use it to improve courses and instruction.*

*Bennett, L., & Nair, C. S. (2010). A recipe for effective participation rates for web‐based surveys. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(4), 357-365


Are there resources I can use to encourage student feedback?

Yes! To help instructors engage students in constructive and meaningful feedback, the Office of Distance Learning provides the FSU Course Evaluation module, which you can import into your Canvas course site. The module includes strategies to increase course evaluation response rates, sample course announcements, extra credit assignment suggestions, and a variety of digital and print resources to help you encourage your students to complete evaluations. See the support article for instructions on importing the module. If you have imported the module previously, you will need to update it in Commons to capture a recent update.


My course section has a low enrollment. Can I still be evaluated?

Yes. To help maintain the anonymity of students in small sections, reports for undergraduate sections of fewer than 10 students (5 for graduate sections) can be combined with other sections. The request can be entered any time after evaluations have been conducted. If you need help, your department’s course evaluation coordinator can submit this request.


Am I required to use online course evaluations, or can I still use paper evaluations?

Instructors are required to use online evaluations. As of spring 2022, the FSU Faculty Senate voted to move course evaluations fully online.


Aren’t online survey response rates lower than paper-based surveys?

Studies show that online response rates are similar to paper when a culture of participation has been cultivated and all evaluations are conducted in the same manner. To help ensure participation among students, instructors can do the following:

  • Allow in-class time for students to complete their course evaluations. Provide at least 15 minutes for students to complete the survey on their laptop or phone. More time may be needed if instructors or colleges add custom questions to the survey.
  • Offer extra credit to the entire class if the response rate reaches a certain percentage (e.g., 70%). This safeguards student anonymity while still raising the response rate.

Are online evaluations as accurate as paper evaluations?

Research shows that online and paper evaluations have statistically similar results. In addition, research indicates that students who complete evaluations online are more likely to provide substantive written feedback than students who complete paper surveys.*

*Heath, N. M., Lawyer, S. R., & Rasmussen, E. B. (2007). Web-based versus paper-and-pencil course evaluations. Teaching of Psychology, 34(4), 259-261.


Do online evaluations result in lower scores?

Studies show this is a myth. Lower-performing students do not respond more often to online surveys than paper ones; online evaluations do not skew results. In fact, there is slightly more evidence that higher-performing students are more apt to respond to online surveys.