Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Student Course Evaluations - FAQs

 

Q: Do all Student Course Evaluations have to be completed in a computer lab?

A: No. TRU is committed to finding solutions that enable all students to complete the Student Course Evaluation; a computer lab is simply one such solution. Student course evaluations can be completed on a computer, iPad or other tablet or smartphone. Faculty members have three options for arranging this:
  • Inquire if students have access to such a device and request they bring it to class on the day of the Student Course Evaluation.
  • Sign out iPads or laptops from the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (the Centre) and the Library. These will need to be booked in advance and returned promptly.
  • Book time in a computer lab – this may be worth considering if there are a large number of students without in-class access to a device.
Q: Is the survey user-friendly on a smartphone or tablet?
A: User-friendly access to the survey is a high priority. TRU has chosen survey software that is fully mobile-responsive. It will change sizes (and may change format slightly) to respond to whatever size screen the respondent is using.

Q: Do all Student Course Evaluations need to be completed in the classroom and under supervision?
A: In keeping with the memorandum of settlement*, Student Course Evaluations will be administered in class. See the response to Question 1 for details. Faculty members may administer the Student Course Evaluation themselves or choose to have a colleague attend and administer it. Students who are absent from class will have the opportunity to complete the Student Course Evaluation within 48 hours from the time it is first administered in class, and will need to obtain the necessary password from the faculty member. The first valid response received marks the start of the 48 hours.  Responses will only be included in reporting if submitted within this 48-hour period. All students are encouraged to submit feedback on their own learning when filling out the Student Course Evaluations.

Q: Will the method for conducting Student Course Evaluations have the necessary reliability and controls to ensure results can be used for Performance Reviews (per Article 7 of the Collective Agreement)?
A: Yes, they will – however, faculty members are encouraged to use a variety of methods to obtain feedback about teaching; Student Course Evaluations are only one such method. Please contact the Centre to explore and receive support in using other feedback methods. The collective agreement continues to determine if an evaluation is formative or summative, with faculty members choosing which Student Course Evaluations become part of their summative evaluation. In a formative evaluation, the faculty member should be able to read the instructions to the class, leave the class for 10 minutes and then return when all students have completed the Student Course Evaluation.

Q: Is there a need for a duplicate process for summative Student Course Evaluations?
A: No. The collective agreement indicates that course evaluations are only one component of a summative evaluation. Summative evaluations are conducted in the following instances: to determine Right of First Refusal (RoFR);  required review or renewal of a tenure-track appointment; when requested by the faculty member; and upon a factually supported direct request from a Dean. Specifically:
  • For RoFR for sessional work: In the case of RoFR for sessional work, the faculty member has up to 2 work terms to have the summative evaluation completed. With “Every Course, Every Time” (ECET) Student Course Evaluations, all courses will have evaluations; once the faculty member submits final grades, the results of the Student Course Evaluations will be distributed and the Performance Review Committee (PRC) can conduct the summative evaluation. In most cases this will not pose an issue as the PRC can be completed within the first month or two following the end of a contract, or at the beginning of the second contract and still adhere to the collective agreement.
  • For tenure or tenure-track renewal: When faculty members require a PRC for tenure or tenure-track renewal, the Student Course Evaluation process will provide a wide choice of Student Course Evaluations to be used in the PRC. The language in Article 5.2.2 of the TRU/TRUFA Collective Agreement requires that the PRC is complete at least 3 months prior to the renewal date, which means the PRC will be conducted following the Fall semester for a July 1 renewal etc. As such, the Winter semester Student Course Evaluations will not be relevant for the PRC as the course will not be completed by the time the decision is made for renewal. The same will hold true for faculty members who are applying for tenure or promotion. The ECET will provide a choice of Student Course Evaluations to include in the portfolio.
Q: Will faculty members have an opportunity to include specific questions pertaining to their course within the standard questions provided in Part 1 and Part 2 of the Student Course Evaluation instrument?
A: Yes. In Fall 2015, and again in Winter 2016, the Director of the Centre presented on the Student Course Evaluation process to all Faculty Councils. As mentioned in these presentations, departments will have choice in determining the questions to be contained in Part 2 of the Student Course Evaluation, and will be able to add questions to the Student Course Evaluations. However, until all Faculties, Schools and departments have had an opportunity to create and submit questions to be added to the inventory of questions for customization in future terms, all courses (except for Faculty of Science, Faculty of Law and ESL) will use the predetermined Student Course Evaluation instrument used during the initial rollout. Faculty Councils are encouraged to advise the Centre’s Director of any specific questions they wish to include in the questionnaire. Departments will then have the opportunity to select from a bank of questions (including any new questions suggested by the department).  The Centre is available to all Faculties, Schools and Departments to assist in the development of questions.

Q: Who will receive the results of the Student Course Evaluations?
A: Individual evaluation results will be provided directly to the faculty member and to the department Chair. According to the memorandum of settlement* for Student Course Evaluations, Deans may request individual faculty member results and will be given those results when requested.  

Q: The Student Course Evaluation instrument uses a 4-point Likert scale rather than a 5-point Likert scale. Will this make it a challenge to determine what constitutes an acceptable overall score, or whether faculty members have met the required Department standard of performance in the classroom?
A: No, we do not anticipate any such challenges. The recommendation of a 4-point Likert scale by the Senate Teaching and Learning Committee resulted from the Committee members’ review of the literature on Student Course Evaluations and assessment of multiple methods of Likert scales. To ensure all aspects of the Student Course Evaluation instrument are both understood and effective, the Centre will be taking the following steps:
  • As Student Course Evaluation results become available, they will be analyzed for norms. The 4-point Likert scale will become the new norm at TRU and the aggregate results will provide a basis for the PRC’s to determine if a faculty member has met the required standard.  
  • As the new process unfolds, the Centre will be available to assist faculty members to document their continuous improvement of teaching across different instruments, to ensure they can confidently document their results even if different scales have been used.
  • The Centre is also available to work with PRCs and Tenure and Promotion Committees to ensure that all stakeholders understand the scales and results.

Q: According to the Senate ‘Student Course Evaluations – Principles and Procedures’, Student Course Evaluations for every course must be completed in the last three weeks of the semester. Will faculty members have any scheduling discretion within this period?
A: Yes – faculty members will decide and coordinate the exact date within this three week period for the student course evaluation to occur. In cases where a course does not follow the typical semester format, this timeline can be altered, but only insofar as evaluations are meant to be completed toward the end of a course. The Centre is available to assist any faculty who wish to conduct other methods of formative evaluation (for example, mid-term feedback).
 
Q: What questions are being asked in the Student Course Evaluations?
A: The questions used, which are posted at tru.ca/learning were recommended to Senate by the Teaching & Learning Sub-committee of Senate. These questions were used in the gradual rollout in Fall 2015 and are largely based on the questions developed by the Faculty of Science and piloted previously in 2013 and 2014.
 
Q: Where do my students go to access the survey?
A: Students go to their MyTRU accounts, where there will be a Student Course Evaluation channel with links to the surveys for their courses. Below is a screen shot of MyTRU student channel. The Student Course Evaluation channel is in the middle of this screen shot.
 
Q: Why do the surveys have passwords?
A: Surveys are considered “open” only when the faculty member provides students with the password. This allows the faculty member to decide exactly when, within the last 3 weeks of classes, the evaluation will be conducted in class.
 
Q: How do I get my password?
A: Through Integrated Planning and Effectiveness (IPE), passwords are issued to all faculty members. If you do not receive a password or have any questions about the administration of student course evaluations, please contact IPE at crsevaladmin@tru.ca.
 
Q: Why do students need to provide their TRU ID number?
A: Responses are being validated by IPE. One important validation is to ensure only responses of students registered in the class are included in reports.  
 
Q: Where do I go for help?
A: Questions regarding the student course evaluation process, the survey instrument or the instructions can be addressed to the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at learning@tru.ca. Questions regarding the administration of the survey can be addressed to IPE at crsevaladmin@tru.ca or call 250.828.5195.

Q: What is the role of the Teaching & Learning Committee of Senate in the Student Course Evaluation process?
A: The Teaching and Learning Committee of Senate developed the Principles and Procedures document based on the research on Student Course Evaluations, best practices at other universities, and in consultation with Faculty Councils. The committee has also reviewed the literature and provides guidance to the Centre and IPE to ensure the process is reliable and valid. When appropriate, the committee will also make recommendations to Senate on policy to govern Student Course Evaluations.

Q:  Who decides if my course is included in this process?
A: The student course evaluation process is intended to be conducted on an “every course, every time” (ECET) basis. Currently, practicums, field studies and co-op terms are excluded, unless specifically requested. These courses will be added to the process in due time. Lists of the ‘primary section’ of courses are extracted from Banner by IPE and sent to each Dean’s office for verification prior to their inclusion.  

Q:  How do I print my report?
A:  Directions are available here: http://www.tru.ca/__shared/assets/crsevalrptprintingdirections40070.pdf .

Q:  Where do I find copies of previous course evaluation reports?
A: For reports prior to F2015, check with your divisional secretary; for F2015 reports, the Centre may have a copy of your Moodle eval; for reports beginning W2016, the Centre may have a copy of the fluid survey link to your report.

Q:  When should I expect to receive the link to my course evaluation report?
A: Fall semester: the end of January; January semester: the end of May; Summer semester: the end of August.



* Between TRU and TRUFA to resolve Grievance No. 13-08 on July 21, 2015