Online Course Evaluation Feasibility Study

Description of the project

Needs statement

Campus stakeholders have identified issues with the traditional, paper-based, in-class course evaluation delivery method currently used at SF State. These include the high staff cost of administering the traditional evaluations, the high financial and environmental cost of using paper survey instruments, and the need to provide an accessible, and equivalent, course evaluation method for students with disabilities and students enrolled in online courses.

This proposal explores the potential of online course evaluations as a way to address the issues stated above by providing a more cost-effective, efficient, environmental, accessible, and equitable campus solution that adds value to the student, faculty, and staff experience at SF State.

  • Cost effectiveness and improved efficiencies for faculty, students and staff - Based on the cost per student for one college (Behavioral and Social Sciences) to conduct print-based, end-of-semester course evaluations, the estimated cost for the entire campus is $125,000 per semester or $250,000 per year. Online course evaluations have the potential to streamline these work processes and eliminate the cost of paper and printing. Faculty could find efficiencies in their workload by being able to perform longitudinal studies on their own teaching evaluations, and securely access their own prior evaluation data easily and securely for use in RTP and other processes.
  • Accessibility for students with disabilities - The current print-based course evaluation system requires that certain students and faculty members with disabilities receive assistance to complete them, thereby denying their right to anonymity and discouraging their participation in this valuable activity. Online course evaluations would provide increased access to the evaluation process for students and faculty with disabilities.
  • Parity for fully online classes - Since Fall 2000, when the campus began listing fully online classes in the Class Schedule, there has not been a standard methodology for performing course evaluations. Several solutions have been documented:
    • The department mails print-based evaluations to online students via U.S. Postal Service
    • Instructors work with campus units (Academic Technology, Division of Information Technology, Testing Center) to set up a work-around solution
    • Instructors, departments, or colleges set up their own online evaluations using free or for-fee anonymous survey tools
    • No course evaluation is conducted

    Online course evaluations could provide an equivalent course evaluation processes for students and faculty participating in face-to-face and online courses.

Definition of terms

The following terms are operationally defined for the purposes of this feasibility study:

  • course evaluation - end-of-semester assessment of instruction, performed each semester by students in every section; also called Student Evaluation of Teaching Effectiveness
  • online course evaluation - a technology-enabled implementation of the course evaluation process administered in an online environment
  • traditional course evaluation - a paper-based implementation of the course evaluation process administered in the physical classroom

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