8 Strategies to Increase Student Engagement and Participation in Course Evaluations

Written by Explorance.

Students raising their hand

In our latest publication, Student Voices: The Complete Guide on How to Increase Student Engagement in Evaluations, we share insight and top tips from Higher Education leaders representing universities around the globe who have successfully engaged the student voice as they seek to improve their teaching and learning.

Our contributors provide practical guidance on the following:

  • Key steps taken, from policy to delivery.
  • How students can be empowered in partnership.
  • The importance of a good communications plan.
  • Why closing the feedback loop is now a must.
  • Addressing challenges/blockages on the way.

Here are our eight summary steps to increasing student engagement and participation in course evaluations (module evaluations).

1.  Define your student engagement strategy

The student voice underpins good teaching – and student feedback, particularly at mid-unit (or mid-term), is seen as a way to activate transformation, enhancement, and change.

However, for the student voice to help influence change, Higher Education Institutions should adopt consistent methods of capturing student feedback across the board. Universities are increasingly unifying ways of gathering feedback to engage the student voice better through the development of institutional policy/policies.

Strategy creation is often aligned with culture and objectives. Understanding how things work for students, listening and acting on the student voice, and closing the feedback loop to create a positive student experience, typically underpin policies and guidelines.

2.  Empower students in the planning phase

Encouraging students as essential participants in the feedback process is a feature of multi-faceted strategies implemented by universities.

Delivering meaningful improvements to the student experience is directly related to how much students are included in matters that affect their learning. Now this is happening before evaluation frameworks are even operationalized. Often academic and administrative leaders across institutions will develop policies and guidelines in collaboration with students in the planning phase. Student Partnership Agreements (or similar) are on the rise.

Increasingly, not only does strategy stipulate an agreed direction of travel, but student representation in related working groups is also pivotal for increasing student engagement and creating a positive reputation for feedback and surveys.

3.  Commit to creating a marketing/communication plan

Developing a marketing campaign to help engage students in the evaluation process helps build a better relationship with them and highlights the importance of giving their feedback.

Invitation emails and timely reminders, promotional videos, posts and QR codes, on-campus screens, digital signage, screensavers, social media content, face-to-face communications with students, and SMS messages to students’ phones are just some of the channels used as part of survey campaigns.

Communications that run all year round are vital to increasing student engagement, allowing for a clear schedule of key messages to be presented when the evaluations go out. Some institutions offer incentives for course evaluation completion.

4.  Engage your student communications team in both design and roll-out

“You don’t need to do this on your own.” This is essential advice from those responsible for course evaluations.

Work with student communications teams to disseminate key messages and reach an established audience through their channels. Those teams can also assist in developing and implementing elements requiring design input, with branding and collateral ensuring a consistent and recognizable look and feel for each evaluation questionnaire.

These student communications teams may also double as survey campaign teams, which help raise the response rates to the target. But the key to increasing survey engagement is clear communication between students and staff.

5.  Encourage staff to support in-class/student communications on evaluation completion

With course evaluations central to pedagogical development (with the resulting data received inputting to program and course enhancement), it is in every instructor’s best interest to do what they can to drive student engagement.

Many institutions appear to partner with instructors as collaborators, recognizing that the most effective way to get students to fill out their evaluations is for their teaching staff to ask them to do so directly. This happens before the evaluation launch, during the evaluation period, and after the reporting is available.

Communicate directly with students to explain what the survey is about, encourage honest feedback, and how it can lead to positive change.

6.  Ensure students know that their feedback matters

Students need to know that their experience and voice matter and should be encouraged to contribute to regular informal and formal feedback.

They are more likely to complete evaluations of teaching if they know someone will read their comments and act on what they say. Institutions need to tell students their opinion matters and should ideally show concrete examples of how they have used past student feedback to improve their course and teaching.

This empowers students as active participants in their education and, in turn, helps educators create an effective, learner-centric environment guided by the student voice. They should be seen as essential participants in the feedback process.

7.  Close the loop

Closing the feedback loop is integral to enhancing the effectiveness of responding to the student voice. Students need to see what actions have been taken (and not taken) because of their feedback, either from the University or at the academic program/module level.

Universities recognize that closing the loop helps to facilitate effective communication, build trust with students, and increase response rates on course evaluations. Providing students with access to results encourages other students to participate.

Allocate time in class for survey completion and feedback and show students how their responses have been used to make changes in the current subject. More widely, this ensures the continuous improvement of key business processes.

8.  Review/measure your KPIs for engagement

Good insight into what students think and say about institutional provision is essential to inform KPIs – and this can support broader objectives for students to reflect on their learning as part of an overall approach to teaching and learning.

For some, the measurement will fundamentally be on response rates; for others, the conversation is shifting to prioritizing quality student responses. But often, there is a more holistic focus on the enhancement with a clear expectation and connection between evaluations, quality processes, and the importance of the student voice.

Students may need guidance on providing constructive feedback to achieve this whole process most effectively.


Download Student Voice: The Complete Guide on How to Increase Student Engagement in Evaluations

BlueCourse evaluationsStudent engagementStudent feedbackStudent voice

Automate your Course evaluations with best-in-class software.

Stay connected
with the latest products, services, and industry news.