5 Ways That Online Course Evaluations Help to Ensure Confidentiality

Written by Explorance.

In a previous series of posts, we examined the strategic and operational benefits of online course evaluations. One of the most important advantages of using an online evaluation system is that it offers increased security and confidentiality over paper-based assessments.

Increased confidentiality is integral to the success of course evaluations as it has a direct impact on student participation. Committing to, and communicating, confidentiality is key to prompting students to respond to course assessments. Student participation in the evaluation process is crucial for it contributes to teaching improvement, course development and institutional effectiveness.

Today’s post focuses on five ways that online course evaluation systems create confidentiality from using a secure system to maintaining the confidentiality of results.

  1. Secure system:

    It is recommended that you use an online evaluation system with enhanced security measures. Utilize a secure sever to protect the data and offer password only access to further ensure confidentiality. Housing your evaluation system on a secure server allows the information to remain behind an institution’s firewall for data protection. Sophisticated systems synchronize with an institution’s authentication system for maximum security.

  2. Limited access:

    Another way to maintain confidentiality is to only allow students enrolled in the course to enter the system to fill out the assessment. This limited access protects against any ‘hacking’ and the system ensures the responses are submitted directly to the online database. Automated course evaluation systems also provide increased security as questionnaires are no longer handled directly by people. This limited access eliminates any human error or tampering.

  3. Anonymous responses:

    Online evaluation systems ensure the anonymity of student responses. Secure systems can block anyone from viewing which responses came from a particular student. This ensures that no responses contain identifiable information and can be attributed to a particular student. Once the results are summarized and the evaluation process has ended, all personal information can be disassociated from the responses.

  4. Intelligent confidentiality:

    Technologically advanced systems like Blue/Evaluations enable ‘intelligent confidentiality’. Intelligent confidentiality allows personal information to be pre-populated into the questionnaire for student convenience. This creates shorter questionnaires as students do not have to fill in their demographic information. This saves the student’s time and can help increase response rates.

  5. Confidentiality of results:

    Using an online system can ensure the confidentiality of results. An institution can control who sees what by setting the viewing privileges within the evaluation system. Some institution’s make individual responses (not identifiable by student) only available to the instructor. However, it is recommended that the report only show averaged or aggregated results. This gives a comprehensive view of the data without revealing any individual score. These results are then used by the institution for the continuous improvement of programs and courses and for teaching development.

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