Making Assessments with UB Course Evaluations (UBCE)


Published August 23, 2017

Course evaluations help ensure that UB faculty and administrators deliver the highest quality education to students. The new UB Course Evaluations (UBCE) tool offers stronger access to data and a mix of new features for all members of the UB community.


Benjamin Blanchett

Benjamin Blanchet (UB student, Class of 2018) is an English major with an interest in journalism. After graduating from UB, he hopes to attend grad school and pursue a career writing about music and the arts. An Albany, NY native, Benjamin enjoys biking and reading in his spare time.

Evaluating courses on your own terms

The new UBCE, administered by UB’s Center for Educational Innovation (CEI), offers features like live monitoring of evaluation responses and notifying students of ongoing course evaluations.

In Spring 2017, UBCE began using Buffalo-based course evaluations provider SmartEvals. The new solution makes data more accessible for administrators and offers evaluation reports with detailed analysis. There are also manageable settings so evaluation reports can be viewed by administrators as well as instructors. 

There are new features and benefits for everyone using the UBCE software:

For students 

  • Anonymity guaranteed: Responses in evaluation reports are aggregated, so no single response stands out.
  • Ability to view evaluation reports from responses to core (or standard) questions.

For instructors

  • Add as many as three custom questions for evaluations of their courses. 
  • Using UBCE's myFocus Tool, which looks at evaluation responses, instructors can view aspects in their teaching they can work on and areas they can embrace.

For administrators

  • As many as 10 questions can be created for evaluations at the unit-level.
  • Access different reports generated from the unit, departmental and program levels. 

Generating reports

Thomas Slomka from CEI

Thomas Slomka from UB's Center of Educational Innovation with the UBCE tool

The tool creates evaluation reports at the end of every semester, once grades are distributed. In addition to end-of-semester reports, the provider also offers mid-semester reports.

Thomas Slomka and Cathleen Morreale are both Program Evaluation & Student Learning Assessment Specialists with CEI.

"Mid-semester evaluations tend to be a little bit more formative, with faculty asking questions that can be acted on more immediately," Morreale said. "They’re usually shorter and, as opposed to having students reflect on the course as a whole, it gives them something that they can make changes on a little bit more immediately."

For instructors, UBCE uses the myFocus tool to look at reports. Slomka said that the new provider allows faculty to set up improvement plans and provides feedback for other faculty members on how to achieve certain results. 

"Say a faculty member gets higher results in one or two evaluation areas," Slomka said. "They might be asked to provide input on what they were doing in their course, what tools they were using or how they were teaching. Then another faculty member who scored lower on those same evaluation points might be able to see that feedback and would want to try that in their course."

UBCE also allows students to see evaluation data so they can make choices on courses they’re taking in the future.

Students are only able to view quantitative, rather than qualitative, responses, and data is always reported in aggregate. The aggregate of responses helps students stay anonymous as opposed to having individual responses made available.

"There are features to help protect anonymity for students submitting responses, and to provide better overall statistics for reporting," Slomka said. "For instance, a faculty member who only gets two or three responses, or fewer than five responses, won’t be able to see a report on their evaluations."

Customizing evaluations

Aside from the core questions offered by UBCE, administrators and faculty can add custom questions to their evaluations based on the goals and programs within each of their units. Faculty members can add up to three open-ended or close-ended questions as well, to gauge the success of new class features, like a new textbook or a lab simulation.

Having trouble?

If you’re having trouble using the tool, CEI lists frequently asked questions on their website and also offer workshops, along with one-on-one consultations. 

For any questions or comments on UB Course Evaluations, you can discover more online, email the UBCE support team at or call the Center for Educational Innovation at 716-645-7700.