A Tool for Assessing and Improving
Fall 2007 marked the inauguration of the course evaluation
online at St. John's University which replaced the former SIR II
paper version. The new course evaluation form was developed
by a committee of St. John’s faculty members and comprised
26-scaled and three open-ended questions. Moreover,
instructors had the option of adding as many as five of their own
questions, unlike the paper-based SIR II, which could not be
Overall, 2,145 undergraduate classes and 31,641 student
responses were included in the fall course evaluation, generating a
student response rate of 58%. At the graduate level, 329
classes and 3,681 student responses produced an even higher student
response rate of 66%. The student response rate for the University
as a whole was 59%.
After the results were sent to faculty in December, they were
surveyed on the course evaluation; over three hundred responded. In
their comments, many faculty noted that receiving the analysis of
the results so quickly enabled them to consider their students’
feedback in time to modify their course or teaching technique for
the spring semester. This is a distinct advantage over the SIR II
paper version, the findings of which took months to analyze and
disseminate to faculty.
Many ideas on utilizing the findings were reflected in the
responses. A sample of actual quotes appears below:
- "I will change the way we set up work groups. Students loved
the small groups, but some thought we should rotate the members
every few weeks. I'll try that next time."
- "I plan more one on one and small group interactions with
- "The students gave constructive suggestions on how to
incorporate special projects and group work."
- "Well, my colleagues and I shared our results so that we could
incorporate students' thoughts into the next course in our
sequence. They gave us valuable insight on using
- "Students identified specific aspects regarding the use of
technology that I will try to improve in the future."
- "Students indicate that class discussion is very useful, and I
plan to develop this method, along with some other suggestions like
images in PowerPoint, more short films, etc.."