Author: Linda Wanless

Interpreting Course evaluations

Even as a new semester is starting, we should not lose sight of all the effort that went into teaching last semester.  The start of a new semester is a perfect time to reflect on your course evaluation results and the student feedback received.  

Previous course evaluations can provide valuable information and insight as you begin to take the time to reflect on where you would like to refine your courses in the new semester. But where do you begin to make sense of all the data and feedback that is provided on course evaluations? 

Starting Point

Select a recent course evaluation and run the report with comments.  At the top left corner of the report will be your response rates.  Do you have a good response rate to justify the value of the data?  If you have a very low response rate, you may want to be careful in making generalizations of the course overall. Be sure to use course evaluations that have at least a 50% response rate. For this reason, it is important to encourage students to complete the evaluations so that it will generate sufficient usable data later on. High response rates along with high scores also leads to teaching award nominations!!

Review the overall average of the 7 dimensions.  

The average of the 7 dimensions will be found towards the bottom of the report just under the likert scale questions.  Typically questions 5-11 are the seven dimension questions determined by the university.  Your average score on the 7 dimensions will depend on many variables such as class size, experience teaching this particular course, etc. If you would like to improve your overall average of the 7 dimensions, it is important that you look at each individual dimension and find the one with the lowest score.  This dimension would be your best indicator of a starting point in refining your course.  Going forward, you will want to select and  incorporate some different approaches or strategies that would hopefully strengthen this dimension from the student perspective.  

Student Feedback

Are you overwhelmed by reading through all the student comments at the bottom of your course evaluation reports?  Wondering where to start to incorporate this feedback into your future course offerings?  Begin by trying to categorize each comment into broader topics.  You will begin to see that most of the comments correlate with one of the 7 dimensions.  The category with the most comments will be an indicator of where to refine your approach moving into future offerings of this course.  

Feel free to reach out to the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning – we have a wealth of strategies and approaches that you can try based on your course structure and comfort level.

Learning from each other-Peer Review Assignments

To strengthen students’ written work, instructors will spend a great deal of time providing detailed feedback in the hopes that students will apply the suggestions to their next written assignment. Unfortunately, many instructors feel that their efforts to provide feedback is being overlooked or not appreciated by the students.

What if an instructor could reduce the burden of providing all the detailed feedback YET increase students engagement in the review process? Maybe even strengthen their writing skills and assessment skills in the process…

Peer Review Assignments

Think about the possibility of having students review each others work and provide each other feedback. If you read through the body of literature, you will find many supporting arguments which state that peer review in the feedback process provides many benefits to students learning.

Benefits of Peer Review

  • Ability to become more aware of alternative perspectives on a topic.
  • Lifelong learning skills in how to effectively assess another person’s work.
  • Building self-assessment of their work by benchmarking themselves against their peers.
  • Critical thinking and diplomacy skills.

Canvas Peer Review Assignments

A Canvas Peer Review Assignment allows students to provide feedback on another student’s assignment submission. Setting up an assignment for peer review is fairly simple within Canvas. One of the options when setting up a new assignment is to designate it as a Peer Review assignment. You can select to manually or automatically assign the peer reviews. There is an option to set up the peer reviews to be anonymous or you can include a rubric for the reviewer to complete as the peer review. Peer reviews can not be used with External Tool Assignments.

Peer Review options in Assignments

Students will see a list of peer reviews assigned to them within the assignment. Based on how the assignment submission is designated, the student could annotate the document, add a comment in the comment field or complete the included rubric. A student reviewing another student’s assignment would need to leave at least one comment in order for the review to be considered complete.

Students will see their peers’ reviews in the right sidebar of the Canvas course under Recent Feedback. A student can simply click on the assignment title to access the feedback.

Video Assignments

Have you ever considered a different format for your assignments? How about having students create an explanatory video of how they analyze and stepped through a homework problem? Or it could be a short video of them applying a course concept in their daily life. Have you thought about offering a video assignments that involve opportunities to practice professional communication skills, project management skills or a practice presentation. Did you know that students can provide a video response to a discussion thread?

Benefits of video assignments

There are many ways to incorporate a video assignment/response into your course content but you may be wondering what benefit(s) does a video assignment provide over the previous written assignment you had originally assigned? The most significant benefit noted by researchers is that students find video assignments to be more beneficial to their own understanding and mastery of the content. By creating a video, it provides students with an opportunities to practice and demonstrate course concepts. This often involves writing out a script, practicing their response or gaining additional information on the topic before creating the video.

Creating a video assignment in Canvas

You will want to begin by creating a Huskycast student assignment folder. Creating this folder will give students access to record and upload video. Once that is complete, you can now go ahead and create the Canvas Video Assignment. Since students may not be familiar with how to create or upload a video assignment in Canvas, you will want to be sure to provide some guidelines on submitting a video assignment.

After students have submitted their video assignment, the instructor can navigate to the assignment in Canvas and click on Speedgrader. Each submitted video will be embedded on the student’s Speedgrader page. The instructor can review the video, add comments and a score.

Other video response opportunities

You may also want to consider other opportunities for a student to provide a short media response. Maybe there is an opportunity in a discussion or an announcement for a student to provide a short media response.? The Rich Content Editor (available on Announcements, Assignments, Discussions, Pages and Quizzes) allows students to record or upload a short video and/or audio media. Video and audio uploads to Canvas can be up to 500 MB. Media recording submissions are not downloadable.

Upload/Record Media

Additional guidance on video assignments

Not sure where to start with incorporating videos assignments into your course content? Or maybe you have some questions about setting up the assignments….if so, feel free to reach out to or contact the CTL at 7-3000.

7 Dimensions of course evaluations

The course evaluation survey is comprised of 7 main questions most commonly known as the 7 dimensions. These 7 dimensions provide students with guided questions in evaluating the teaching and learning process of a course.

As another fall semester begins again, it is often a good time to reflect on these dimensions by reviewing previous course evaluation scores and student feedback in order to seek ways to be continuously improving your courses.

It may be helpful to outline each dimension with some possible classroom strategies that could be incorporated. To get you started, we have outlined each dimension along with one or two strategies you may find useful for each.

  • The instructor was enthusiastic about the subject matter of the course.
    • Share your passion for the topic by incorporating your work experiences, research findings and publication work into your lectures.
  • The instructor communicated the course material clearly.
    • Set up course content in organized modules by weeks, chapters or units within Canvas.
  • The instructor engaged students by encouraging participation during class.
    • Chunk your lectures into 10-15 min. segments. Have students interact with the content for the next 10 mins. before returning to another segment of your lecture. Reference the CTL website for additional active learning strategies.
  • The instructor engaged students by encouraging course preparation, reflection, or other activities outside of class.
    • Offer homework or pre-class activities that allow students to apply the concepts to their current real world situations.
    • Offer social media or collaborative platforms such as google docs in order to share their files with peers and work in real time.
  • The instructor provided timely feedback on my work (homework, assignments, exams, etc.)
    • Utilize grading tools such as Gradescope that allow you to pre-populate your feedback based on student responses.
  • The instructor displayed a personal interest in students and their learning.
    • Provide timely feedback.
    • Try to arrive early to class and stay a few minutes after (if room schedule allows) to have informal conversations with students.
  • The instructor uses technology appropriately.
    • Introduce one or two technologies that complement your lectures. For example, try a digital interactive whiteboard such as jamboard.
    • Engage students with polling questions via iClicker.

Taking time to reflect and plan strategies for each of these dimensions at the beginning of the semester will be beneficial at the end of the semester as students evaluate these seven dimensions and provide feedback on what worked well. If you would like to discuss the Student rating of instruction in more detail, please feel free to reach out to the CTL at 487-3000.