Instructional Satisfaction Questionnaire Goes Online!
The University of North Florida evaluates all courses (with the exception of courses involving individual instruction such as independent studies (DIS), internships, and practica - see Collective Bargaining Agreement) using a standard instrument "Instructional Satisfaction Questionnaire" (ISQ). This ISQ evaluation instrument allows students to confidentially rate their UNF learning experience. Two days after the deadline for faculty grade submission, the ratings and feedback from course evaluations become available to UNF faculty and administrators. The information students supply in these evaluations is extremely important.
- Faculty use information from course evaluations to improve their courses and teaching methods, and to determine whether course content is meeting the needs of their students.
- Department chairs review course evaluation data to assess both their faculty, and the value of courses offered in their department.
- University committees include course evaluation data as part of faculty reviews, to determine promotion and tenure.
- Other students use the course evaluation ratings available to them, to choose courses to add to their schedule.
For these reasons, students are strongly encouraged to participate in the course evaluation online system. Student feedback matters!
Background on Transition to Online ISQs
As a result of both faculty and administration's interest, representatives from Institutional Research, ITS, Academic Affairs and CIRT initiated a discussion on the feasability of moving the traditional Scantron system of course evaluation to an online platform. This group explored best practices at other institutions using online evaluation tools and this research provided a clear roadmap to why and how to consider a transition to online evaluations. The rationale for this transition was based on several factors:
- Scantron systems are ineffective and outdated
- Data was suspect because there were no controls over its collection and processing
- High risk of system failure
- Process costly and labor intensive
- Turn-around time for faculty to receive results
- No electronic archive of student written comments
- Requires class time
- Student not in attendance day of paper administration cannot evaluate
In the fall 2003 and spring 2004, the university pilot-tested a locally developed online ISQ system modeled after the Distance Learning course evaluation system already in place. The results from the pilot were mixed and with the goal of expanding the use of an online evaluation tool, the focus of concern centered on the lower-than-expected response rates. Faculty (through Faculty Association) asked that the online system be refined in order to have the online response rates approximate the response rates from the traditional scantron forms (68%). Research on online evaluation tools indicate that to develop and launch successful online evaluation systems (in other words, ensure high response rates), an institution must incorporate a slate of effective strategies both on the student side and faculty side. It was evident that to migrate to an effective online evaluation tool, UNF would need to incorporate those same strategies.
The most effective strategies we found included the following:
Witholding or early release of course grades upon completion of an instructor's ISQ
Focused promotional campaign for students and faculty
Frequent communication during evaluation period to both student and instructor
After several conversations with Faculty Association representatives, it was clear that we did not want to use the "traditional carrots and sticks" to incentivize this process. Early/withholding grades did not seem desireable or even possible given our timeline for grade input. CIRT and ITS focused their effort to develop the strategies appropriate for UNF. These include the following:
- Communication to students
- Repeated emails during three weeks of evaluation period until student has completed evaluation
- Faculty action
- Faculty can monitor student completion in Faculty Self Service
In Spring 2013, the online ISQ tool was launched as a pilot in the Brooks College of Health (all courses). A total of 293 courses taught by 131 faculty were included in this pilot group. There were several enhancements made to the online evaluation tool in an effort to increase response rates. For this pilot group, the online evaluation response rate was slightly higher than the traditional in-class paper evaluations:
Spring 2013 term: Paper forms - 68.98% response rate
Online process for Brooks College of Health pilot - 71.15%
Transition to an Online Evaluation Process
Beginning Fall 2013, the University of North Florida will implement an online course evaluation system to replace the Scantron evaluation forms formerly in use. All courses will be evaluated using the online system each term, except those courses listed in the Collective Bargaining Unit Article 18.
When Course Evaluations Open
Students are notified via their UNF e-mail when the online system opens, and are sent reminders during the evaluation period. Anonymity is protected, and access to the results tightly controlled through security permissions. During the evaluation period, students who have not completed their evaluations are sent e-mail reminders. See Student Information link for more.
After Course Evaluations Close
The deadline for grades to be entered is the Tuesday after finals are over. After ALL grades are processed and we are confident grades have been submitted, the ISQ results are loaded into MyWings immediately after. The ISQ results will include both the tabulated data and the written comments. Faculty are notified via e-mail when reports are ready for viewing.