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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Student Course Evaluations - FAQs

 When do the institutional online student course evaluations have to be completed?

Course evaluations are to be administered during regularly scheduled class time in the last three weeks (or equivalent) of class and before the final exam. Faculty members can decide and coordinate the exact date within this three-week period. In cases where a course does not follow the typical semester format, this time line can be altered, but only insofar as evaluations are meant to be completed toward the end of a course. CELT is available to assist any faculty who wish to conduct other methods of formative evaluation (for example, mid-term feedback).

 How do students access the online student course evaluation survey?

In most instances, students will access the course evaluation survey by logging into their account.

In the new student myTRU portal, students can access their course evaluations from the Home page by either clicking on the ‘On-campus course evaluations’ container, or by clicking on the ‘Course evaluation’ link under ‘Course Registration – Kamloops and Williams Lake Students’.

myTRU screenshot

In some instances, students may receive the course evaluation survey link directly from their faculty member.

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 course evaluation.
  • Sign out laptops, iPads or tablets from the Library.
  • 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.
 Is the course evaluation survey user-friendly on a smartphone or tablet?

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.

 Who administers the institutional student course evaluations in class?

Faculty members may administer the student course evaluation themselves or choose to have a colleague attend class and administer it. This should be arranged by the faculty member ahead of time.

 How long will students be able to access the online student course evaluation survey?

Students will have the opportunity, if absent from class, to complete the evaluation within 48 hours from the time it is first administered in their class. The first valid response received marks the start of the 48 hours, and responses will only be included in the report if submitted within this 48 hour period.

 What questions are being asked in the institutional student course evaluation instrument?

The questions used, which are posted at CELT, were recommended to Senate by the teaching and learning 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.

 Do departments have the opportunity to include customized survey questions?

Yes. Departments can choose to customize survey questions, for the whole department, in part B of the survey. The approval process for discipline specific custom questions is as follows:

  1. Discuss custom questions as a department
  2. Provide custom questions to the CELT for feedback
  3. Submit custom questions to Faculty Council for approval
  4. Provide approved custom questions to the CELT to distribute to IPE
 The student course evaluation instrument uses a four-point Likert scale rather than a five-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?

No, we do not anticipate any such challenges. The recommendation of a four-point Likert scale by the Teaching and Learning Committee of Senate 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, CELT will be taking the following steps:

  • As student course evaluation results become available, they will be analyzed for norms. The four-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, CELT 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.
  • CELT is also available to work with PRCs and tenure and promotion committees to ensure that all stakeholders understand the scales and results.
 Who decides if my course is included in this process?

The student course evaluation process is intended to be conducted on an every-course-every-time basis. Currently, most labs, seminars, practicums, field studies, co-op courses, continuing activity, directed studies, thesis courses and service learning courses are excluded, unless specifically requested by the dean’s office to be included. These courses may 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. Questions about the inclusion or exclusion of your course should be directed to your Dean’s office.

 Why do the student course evaluation surveys have passwords?

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 three weeks of class, the evaluation will be conducted in class.

 How do I get my password?

Passwords are issued to all faculty members by Integrated Planning and Effectiveness (IPE). If you do not receive a password, or have any questions about the technical administration of institutional student course evaluations, please contact IPE at

 Why do students need to provide their TRU ID number to access the survey questions?

Student responses are validated by IPE to ensure that only students who are enrolled your course are able to evaluate your course. The TRU ID number is required for this check.

 Who will receive the results of the institutional student course evaluations?

Individual evaluation results will be provided directly to the faculty member and to the department chair by CELT. According to the memorandum of settlement (between TRU and TRUFA to resolve grievance No. 13-08 on July 21, 2015) for student course evaluations, Deans may request individual faculty member results and will be given those results when requested. Aggregate student evaluation results will also be provided to the University community.

 When should I expect to receive access to my course evaluation reports?

Kamloops and Williams Lake courses — Fall semester evaluation: mid-January; Winter semester evaluation: mid-May; Summer semester evaluation: mid-August

School of Trades and Technology courses — reporting is done quarterly, therefore faculty members can expect their reports in October (for courses ending in July, August, September), January (for courses ending in October, November, December), April (for courses ending in January, February, March), and July (for courses ending in April, May, June).

 What is the role of the teaching and learning committee of Senate in the student course evaluation process?

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 CELT 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.

 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)?

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 for Excellence in Learning and Teaching 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 are part of their summative evaluation. Faculty should remain unobtrusive during the completion of the evaluations. It is recommended that the faculty member read the instructions to the class, leave the class for 10 minutes and then return when all students have completed the Student Course Evaluation.

 Is there a need for a duplicate process for summative evaluations?

No. The collective agreement indicates that student 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 two work terms to have the summative evaluation completed. With institutional student course evaluations, all courses will have evaluations; once the faculty member submits final grades, the results of the student course evaluation will be distributed by CELT 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 institutional student course evaluations will provide a choice of student course evaluations to include in the portfolio.
 Where do I go for help?

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 Questions regarding the administration of the survey can be addressed to IPE at or call 250-852-7164.

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