Administering Course Evaluations on Paper

 Benefits of paper evaluations

Paper course evaluation administrations during class time tend to elicit a higher response rate than on-line administrations. Some instructors prefer paper course evaluations to preserve continuity with their previous evaluations procedures and results. The process of administering paper evaluations in class may provide additional assurance to students that instructors will not see results until after grades have been submitted.

Assuring voluntary and anonymous participation

The procedures used for administering in-class paper evaluations should preserve the voluntary nature of students’ participation, assure them that their responses are anonymous, and encourage candid responses.  Therefore, instructors should not be present when the forms are completed, should not collect the forms, and should not read student responses until after grades have been submitted.  The Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment recommends the follow procedures:

  1. Make sure the content of the form you use supports voluntary and anonymous participation. If you are developing your own questionnaire, do not include any questions that would allow you to identify the responses of individual students.  Limit the number of demographic questions you ask so that you cannot identify students, even unintentionally.  Include instructions at the beginning of the form that explain the voluntary and anonymous nature of student participation in course evaluations.  The Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment recommends the following text:

    The purpose of this course evaluation questionnaire is to provide feedback to your instructor concerning your learning experiences in this course.  Your candid and thoughtful responses will help your instructor improve his or her teaching, not only in this course but in other courses as well. Your participation is voluntary, and you will not be asked for your name or other identifying information.  Your instructor will not review the results until after course grades have been submitted.  Results are provided only to your instructor, although he or she may share them with others (such as the department chair) for purposes of professional development.  Thank you for your participation in the St. Olaf course evaluation program.

  2. Make arrangements in advance for an individual or office to receive the completed questionnaires and to retain them until after grades have been submitted. Some instructors ask their departmental Academic Administrative Assistants to hold the completed forms; others ask the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment (Tomson Hall 253) to do so.
  3. Prepare an envelope for delivering the forms. Prepare a large envelope for the completed forms. Include the instructor’s name, the course number and title, the academic term, and the name and location of the individual or office where the envelope should be delivered.
  4. Choose an individual to collect and deliver the completed forms. You might ask a specific student in the course to wait until all the questionnaires have been completed and then deliver them to the individual or office you have designated.  Or you might ask that the last student to complete the questionnaire assume responsibility for collecting and delivering them.  Finally, you might ask your Academic Administrative Assistant to collect the completed forms (especially if the AAA will also be holding them for you).
  5. Before distributing the forms, provide a brief oral statement about the purposes of course evaluations and the conditions of students’ participation. Include the following information (which should also be included on the form itself):
    • The purpose of course evaluations is to help instructors improve course content and teaching practices.
    • Students’ participation is voluntary; they are not required to complete the form.
    • Students’ responses are intended to be anonymous; you will not seek to identify the source of specific responses.
    • You will not see the completed evaluations until after you have submitted course grades.
    • The completed forms are returned only to you.  You may share the results with others (such as the department chair) for purposes of professional development, but only you can give permission for others to see the results.
    • You appreciate their candid and thoughtful responses; their perspectives will help you determine what to continue and what to change in your teaching.
  6. Distribute the forms and leave the room. The individual or office you have designated to hold the completed forms will return them to you once final grades have been submitted.