Published March 19, 2015
At one time, you may have used up to seven different course evaluation platforms at UB. When the UB Course Evaluation System took over during Fall 2014, it was seamless, handling UB’s student volume without fail.
"The goal was to make the evaluation of teaching effectiveness uniform across all UB’s units,” said Carol Van Zile-Tamsen, Associate Director and Assessment Specialist at the Center for Educational Innovation and Implementation Coordinator for the UB Course Evaluation System. “When the committees have candidates for tenure or promotion, they can see the teaching effectiveness and understand it across the board.”
In the 2014 UBIT Student Experience Survey, students were asked what instructors could do with technology to better “facilitate or support [their] academic success.”
299 out of 726 responses requested instructors post lecture notes and presentations online, and also make the classroom experience more interactive. One survey respondent suggested that professors “Use PowerPoints effectively, don’t use big walls of text; make PowerPoints available before class, so that we can take notes on new material, instead of trying to copy everything down.”
109 students reported they would like instructors to record lectures. One survey participant stated, “Recorded lectures online are a huge help to go back and see things you missed. We are the ones paying for this education; we should be able to access it whenever we want.”
Additional requests asked for instructors to “actually respond to their emails,” in a timely fashion, standardize the use of one clicker across UB, and provide more technology training for instructors. With the introduction of UB’s new course evaluation system, students can address these concerns with professors directly.
“The UB Course Evaluation System is a way for students to be heard,” Carol added. “They might have problems with a course, but if they don’t let anyone know, there will never be improvements.”
The UB Course Evaluation System contains 16 core questions: five are instructor-specific questions and one question is on the condition of the instructional facility. Instructors have the opportunity to ask specific questions by including up to ten optional “Unit Custom Questions” that are specific to that course. It is very easy on the part of the students and, on average, it only takes a student 10 minutes to complete one course evaluation.
The friendly interface and single point of access allows UB’s students, faculty, and staff to easily access UB’s Course Evaluation System using their tablet, computer or smartphone from any Internet browser. During Fall 2014, this ease of access helped 250 courses achieve a 100% participation rate. Students can edit their responses after completion, save and resume their evaluation for a later time and, if connection is lost, the system automatically saves everything entered to that point.
Once grades are posted, each faculty member will automatically receive PDF reports of their evaluations and can also login to see a running record from previous semesters. Carol is looking forward to more features to be added to the system during Spring 2015. “Our goal is for Chairs and Deans to be able to review reports of all faculty under their supervision,” she said.