Higher education institutions (HEIs) conduct course evaluations because they have to. Data gathered from evaluation forms are regularly used for instructional updates, personnel decisions, and most importantly accreditation – a prerequisite for government funding. For this reason decision makers (provosts, CIOs, deans, and department heads) need to have a strong commitment to increasing response rates on course evaluations. Nevertheless, response rates can often get lost in the daily business of running an institution when it should be an action item in every HEIs strategic plan. Below we look at several ways HEIs can benefit from a commitment to strengthening student engagement in course evaluations.
Ensures that Teaching and Learning is Continuously Improving: It’s a competitive world out there and HEIs need to continuously improve and innovate in order to respond to challenges. If not they will find themselves in trouble as they lose funding and other institutions get wealthier and more competitive. As a measure of accountability for teaching and learning excellence, course evaluations can help institutions identify areas of strength and of improvement. By working to improve response rates, universities can better identify their strong points and invest resources in correcting weaknesses. In this way they are continually focused on meeting the conditions that will allow them to fulfill strategic goals, thereby securing the funding they need.
Provides Preventative Measures for Student Retention: Spotting the early warning signs of student attrition can help institutions in obtaining early diagnosis and solution. The higher the response rates on course evaluations the more data can be yielded to target specific student demographics with personalized learning interventions. An online course evaluation tool like Blue simplifies the evaluation process for students, strengthening student engagement. It also gives HEIs the power of prescriptive analytics by providing data that can help them understand student outcomes and take measures to mitigate risks. For example, while analyzing questions about satisfaction of course and quality of instruction, an administrator can segment out students that gave the lowest ratings using Blue’s SIS integration capability. Blue’s text-analytics module will convert qualitative feedback into meaningful trends, allowing them to identify themes of discontent and take measures to meet learning needs.
With Bluepulse 2, students can take ownership of their learning by autonomously speaking up about the problems that are affecting their learning. With a platform that offers anonymity, learners are more likely to engage with instructors and offer regular feedback. Bluepulse 2 gives them a voice in their own education so that they can get the help they need when they need it. Students see first-hand how their input can enhance the learning experience which can lead to higher levels of motivation which, in turn, contributes to better retention rates.
Leave a Legacy of Success and Improvement: How can you be certain that the work you do makes an impact on your institution? The answer is quite simple – implement change that matters and leads to an institution that is competitive and high-performing. Without course evaluations HEIs lose an indispensable tool for ensuring teaching and learning quality – like steering into uncharted territory without a point of reference. Using course evaluation data ensures that the decisions you make are valid and have a lasting impact. Your students and instructors are happier which leads to successful alumni. Your institution will rank higher and obtain the funding it needs. You will leave a legacy of accomplishment, achievement, and contribution knowing that your improvement efforts will sustain because they ultimately paid off.
Chanel M. Sutherland
Marketing Content Specialist, eXplorance