Improving Student Response Rates

High student response rates are important for the success of UB Course Evaluations. High response rates give a more complete picture of the success of our instructors and our programs.

Reinforce the Value of Course Evaluations

Administrators should give instructors and students clear, visible examples of how course evaluation data has been used to improve the unit's programs, teaching and facilities.

Instructors can reinforce to students the value of course evaluations by:

  • Reminding students that their responses are anonymous.
  • Giving examples of how Course Evaluations impacted their course or their teaching.
    • “I’ve improved my course by adding more review time for exams.”
    • “I’ve shortened some readings based on comments.”
  • Telling students that you are interested in their point of view.
  • Sharing some interesting results.

Provide Incentives

Deans and chairs can empower instructors with tools and incentives for improving student response rates. Create a buzz and increase interest by sponsoring competitions or providing rewards for meeting response rate goals. 

Research shows that students are most likely to complete evaluations when the importance of evaluations is discussed in class. Instructors may provide time in class for students to complete evaluations on their smartphones, tablets and laptops.

However, the following resolution has been adopted regarding incentivizing and encouraging course evaluation completion:

  • Identifying individual students who have completed evaluations for the purpose of awarding extra credit is not permitted. Completion rosters will not be provided to instructors. However, extra credit may be awarded to an entire class for collectively achieving a pre-determined response rate. The amount of extra credit awarded should be modest to avoid any skewing effect on the evaluations. Since research shows that prizes are not effective in incentivizing students, these should not be considered.
  • Instructors should personally remind students once a week in class during the administration period. Chairs and deans should also send personalized, not boilerplate, electronic reminders to their own majors twice during the administration period—an initial message at the beginning and a final reminder at the end. All electronic reminders, both from central administration and from departments, sould be kept as short and as simple as possible to avoid “reminder fatigue” that might alienate students from the process.

Use All Available Communication Channels

Course evaluation response rates are closely tied to the effectiveness of the unit’s communication plan. Communicate frequently and often to students to remind them to complete their course evaluations. Here are some steps administrators and instructors can take to improve response rates:

  • Post course evaluation reminders on department bulletin boards with QR codes linking to UBCE.
  • Add course evaluation information to unit web pages.
  • Provide announcements for instructors to distribute in the classroom or by email.
  • Add information about course evaluations (including links) to your syllabus.
  • Post the evaluation schedule.
  • Remind students that course evaluations are open.
  • Add the UBCE link to your course in UBlearns.
  • Students will receive system reminders but may have questions about the process so engage them in discussion and try to answer their questions.
  • Click ‘Handouts’ in the menu bar on the instructor page to print quarter-page handouts that include a QR code which allow smart phones and tablets to link directly to the class evaluation.

Additional Resources