Effective Course Evaluation Planning: How to Improve Your Process of Collecting Student Feedback

Written by Explorance.

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Effective course evaluations require careful planning. Higher education institutions should proactively develop a robust evaluation strategy to ensure that the collected data contributes to campus-wide improvements, including student success, teaching and learning development, and accreditation. Unfortunately, many face challenges such as inaccurate Student Information System (SIS) data, low participation rates, and difficulties accessing essential data points.

A well-crafted plan significantly streamlines the process of initiating course evaluation projects. It outlines specific steps and provides a roadmap for administrators to navigate and leverage valuable student feedback. Contrary to common belief, creating a course evaluation plan doesn’t have to be a daunting task. This article will guide you through key steps to prepare a comprehensive plan for course evaluations, facilitating the successful collection of actionable student feedback.

Start with Clean SIS Data

Course evaluation efforts are wasted if your Student Information System (SIS) data is inaccurate or incomplete. If critical information, such as course details, enrollment data, student information, teacher-to-course information, etc., is missing, it will be impossible to make informed decisions. Manual preparation – which often goes hand-in-hand with data error – can also be a headache as it can take up to seven weeks to get data ready. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time analyzing results than checking data and resolving inconsistencies?

A solution like Explorance Data Integrity Gateway (DIG) can help improve data quality while significantly saving you time and resources. By seamlessly integrating with your SIS, DIG will automate your processes, eliminate errors, and improve your data integrity. The best part – it cuts course evaluation data preparation time down from seven weeks of manual labor to two weeks of automated workflows.

Find Your Champions

Identifying your course evaluation champions is a crucial step in enhancing the effectiveness of your evaluation efforts. These champions are individuals within your institution who consistently interact with the student community and command a significant level of respect among them. These could be passionate educators, student leaders, or administrators committed to fostering a positive learning environment.

To invigorate your course evaluation initiatives, leverage the influence of these champions by showcasing their endorsement on channels where they have the most significant impact. Whether through campus events, online forums, social media platforms, or even in-person interactions, utilize the spaces where your champions are already influential to promote and advocate for the importance of course evaluations.

In this video, the University of Toronto recruited students and instructors to discuss the importance of course evaluations and then shared it on their social media channels. Some universities have recorded instructors reading ‘mean tweets’ (from past evaluations) to add fun and lightheartedness to the otherwise tense course evaluation process. You can also host events where current students or alumni talk about how evaluation results have helped them choose courses in the past. The point of your champions is to increase awareness of course evaluations’ impact on the student experience and motivate them to participate.

Download the Complete Guide on How to Increase Student Engagement in Evaluations

Plan Your Campaigns

Let’s be honest – no one enjoys slogging through another round of lengthy and dull emails from school administrators, especially when students are bombarded with them throughout the semester. It’s crucial to craft and plan your course evaluation notifications carefully to stand out. Keep them concise and direct, injecting personality into your messages. Position the call-to-action prominently at the beginning and strike an urgent yet considerate tone, recognizing that your students are already grappling with the stress of exams and end-of-term papers. Above all, remember that timing is key.

Here are some strategies that you can use to conduct successful campaigns.

1.    Craft an Effective Subject Line

  • Start strong with a compelling subject line.
  • Consider your audience – keep it short, clear, and focused on their priority: improving the learning experience.

2.    Ensure a Familiar and Influential ‘Sender’

  • Use a recognizable figure as the sender, like the provost or president.
  • Involve the IT department to manage the sender’s inbox and prevent flooding with replies.

3.    Make Every Word Count in the Body

  • Personalize by using the student’s first name.
  • Communicate the purpose clearly from the start.
  • Keep it short and informal, and place important text or calls-to-action upfront.
  • Create genuine urgency without being aggressive, urging them to complete the evaluation promptly.

4.    Consider Your Timing

  • Be mindful of breaks and exam periods.
  • Avoid launching campaigns during distracted or stressful times.
  • Choose optimal days for initial emails when students are more likely to engage.
  • Maintain consistency in the timing of reminders and announcements.
  • Time announcements strategically right before sending invitations, follow-ups, and reminders.

Leverage 100% of Student Feedback Data

To get a complete picture of student feedback, you must use every data point in your analysis, including open-ended comments. Unfortunately, qualitative feedback often poses a great challenge for higher education institutions; manually performing text analytics is time-consuming and inefficient. Furthermore, most do not have the tools to decipher open-ended comments and convert them into meaningful themes and trends. That is until now.

Explorance MLY is an AI-powered comment analysis platform that transforms open-ended feedback into data-driven insights. MLY analyzes students’ unstructured feedback and determines a comment’s sentiment, identifying patterns and highlighting when comments are formative forward-looking recommendations.

Specifically trained with real student comments, Explorance MLY’s machine learning models efficiently categorize feedback into student sentiment towards academic-specific topics and adapt to changing themes with its self-learning algorithms and continuous data training.

Conclusion: Enhancing Course Evaluations for Lasting Impact

Effective course evaluations are a routine and strategic endeavour that demands careful planning and innovative approaches. Several critical pillars of successful course evaluations emerge:

  • Clean SIS data: Seamless integration with Explorance Data Integrity Gateway (DIG) enhances data quality, automates processes, and significantly reduces course evaluation preparation time.
  • Identifying champions: Champions, individuals commanding respect within the student community, become catalysts for engagement.
  • Strategic campaigns further amplify the impact. Compelling subject lines and making every word count in emails are essential tactics. Considerate timing ensures optimal student engagement.
  • Leverage 100% of student feedback data: Institutions can use Explorance MLY. This AI-powered comment analysis platform transforms open-ended feedback into data-driven insights, efficiently categorizing sentiments and adapting to changing themes with continuous data training.

In conclusion, effective course evaluations are an evolving process that demands strategic planning, engagement, and integration of innovative tools. By adopting these approaches, institutions can unlock the full potential of student feedback, fostering continuous improvement and a richer learning environment.

Download the Complete Guide on How to Increase Student Engagement in Evaluations

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