Evaluations garner more responses in class

Department leaders need to delegate time in class for the completion of course evaluations instead of using online outlets, as out-of-class evaluations seem to garner less student responses.

Professor evaluations are distributed at the end of each semester and are used by administrators to determine employee salary, promotion and tenure, according to NIU’s website. Guidelines for how these evaluations are used and distributed vary between departments and are determined by program leaders, said Testing Services Director Greg Barker.

Because the evaluations carry such weight, it is crucial that as many students as possible complete them so professors can have an accurate representation of student responses.

Barker said many departments are transitioning to online evaluation systems.

“Other departments are coming online slowly, so to speak,” Barker said. “Probably the number one benefit [of online evaluations] is that it doesn’t take up any class time, so students can take it on their own time. I think that’s something that a great many of faculty members don’t want to give up.”

NIU officials are collecting data regarding completion rates for online evaluations, but some students think not completing the forms in class leads to less student responses.

“I feel like students will fill [a course evaluation] out if it’s done in class,” said junior English major Christian Hortillano. “If it’s not for a grade or it doesn’t have an incentive, a student won’t do [something online]. But if it’s done in class, then the incentive is that [students] get to leave class at the end.”

English professor Timothy Ryan also felt students’ freedom with online evaluations can lead to less responses.

“I think the issue with online is that people have an option not to do it,” Ryan said. “And therefore, the people who do are ‘A: The people who are really, really, really positive’ or ‘B: The people who are really, really, really negative’.”

Although some professors don’t find the evaluations helpful, others rely on them for constructive criticism about the quality of their courses and teaching, making it even more vital they receive the utmost amount of feedback.

“Sometimes I have changed things about what I do in class based upon what people say in the evaluations,” Ryan said.

Even though it is often more convenient for professors to electronically distribute evaluations, this option should no longer be made available so professors can receive more feedback.