Moving to a fully integrated and all-encompassing module evaluation system, addressing issues around confidentiality of teacher feedback and manual administration.
- Higher level of automation
- Embedded in learning management system
- Different set-ups for different forms of teaching
- Streamlined question bank
- Aggregated reports
Institution-wide expansion of Blue course evaluation
Aarhus University (AU), a top 100 university with award-winning research and 200+ Master’s and Bachelor’s programmes, is one of the largest higher education institutions in Denmark. In 2021, the University expanded its use of Explorance’s Blue course evaluation survey system across its Arts, Health, Natural Sciences and Technical Sciences faculties, after initially using it in the School of Business and Social Sciences (BSS) since 2015.
Mette Tikær Brock, Data Manager in AU Student Administration and Services, originally worked in the evaluation team in Aarhus BSS. When the University opted to increase the use of this survey tool she transferred to a central position, working across her previous school and four other university faculties. She explained how her experience helped with implementation more widely. “Firstly, procurement was very fast as Aarhus BSS already had the system, and so as a result it was only eight months from purchasing to implementation,” Mette said. “Whilst I already knew the system very well when it came to set up, and evaluations were all set up in the system in advance, I cannot thank the Explorance team enough for their support. They were always there, ready to help.”
She continued: “The system we used prior to Blue was not as advanced. One of the main issues was that teachers did not like evaluations that students wrote in open-ended questions, and these were also shared in a public way, so there was a lot of conflict and a need for confidentiality. From that position we now have 2,200 end-of-module evaluations across the University. It has gone very well. From our departmental perspective implementation ran smoothly and on time. By comparison we have also changed a lot of other systems recently, and colleagues’ experience has not been the same.”
Impacts through LMS integration and automation
The move to a fully integrated and comprehensive module evaluation system coincided with the implementation of a new learning management system (LMS), Brightspace, which facilitated the potential to introduce Blue across the University. Having Blue within the LMS gives the University more flexibility in terms of different set-ups for different forms of teaching, and greater intelligence on types of courses.
Automations have had a “huge impact” on administrative staff. “The higher level of automation, with so many courses, so many students, and so many others involved, has been a major benefit. We can schedule all evaluations to run smoothly,” Mette revealed. “We previously had questions by school, by university, and from programme educators. Sometimes they would forget to put questions in, but that is now automated with Blue and they do not have to go into the system. Also with the old system question bank we ended up with a big list of around 800 questions as teachers kept adding new ones when they could not find the questions they were looking for. Blue has reduced and formalised that, and it is now easier for teachers to put in questions already validated by the University.”
Changes at programme level are enabled by each programme leader getting an aggregated report much faster than in their previous student surveys system, Mette said. “Blue gives teachers the responsibility to add their own questions and change evaluations, and that ultimately provides a lot of data,” she explained. “Programme leaders then have reports as soon as the semesters are over, and before too if they want them. These are used at teacher level, programme level, and leadership level. We ask teachers to share an overview of response with their students and we stress how to do this better. We are also required to produce a public report at the end of semester.”
Easy to use, and now exploring other surveys
Mette went to praise the “different structures for different courses” functionality enabled by Blue 8 as well as the recently-introduced QR codes to support student engagement.
She concluded: “We have a clear process for module evaluation now – a more stable questionnaire – and we are also potentially looking at evaluating programmes and teachers, mid-semester evaluations and end-of-programme exit evaluations. We will look to do pilots initially, which is easy with Blue. This semester we are also evaluating clinical and practical parts of healthcare courses for the first time using Blue, and again that has been easy. I would absolutely recommend Explorance to anyone for the higher level of automation and easier way to support student surveys and evaluation.”
Mette also reserved special mention for the Explorance customer support team. “They always have an answer very fast, they are professional and polite, and great to work with,” she said. “If there is something that can be put on the roadmap for development, they will do it; and if there is something that can be fixed, it will be.”
Photo by Lars Kruse
Blue•Course evaluations•Educational experience•Educational technology•Higher education•People insight solutions•Student Success•