Student Guidelines for Course Feedback

Please keep in mind the following when completing your survey

 Although your personal identification is not linked to your responses, course evaluations are important, formal documents.

The results are read not only by the instructor, but also by department chairs, deans and vice presidents. They become part of the instructor’s permanent file and are used in determining whether the instructor should be retained, promoted, or given tenure at the university. They may also be used in granting teaching awards and are often read by various committees. Students should only complete their surveys after serious contemplation of the course, the instructor, and the student’s own performance and commitment to learning.

Treat your evaluation like an instructor should treat your grade.

Students often ask instructors to write letters of recommendation or serve as references for employment, scholarships, and graduate programs. Students expect their instructors to objectively evaluate their abilities and take the time to write a letter reflective of their abilities. Course evaluations are similar in that they affect the instructor’s career and opportunities and instructors trust students to evaluate them fairly. Course evaluations resemble grades: students expect instructors to evaluate thoroughly the students’ work over the course of the semester and to be able to support the assigned grade using the students’ work. Likewise, instructors expect students to evaluate their courses over the entire semester and be able to support their judgments with specific examples.

Some simple guidelines:

  • DO give the instructor credit for the good aspects of the course. This includes the overall course organization, reading selection, assignments, syllabus, lectures or activities, comments on papers, willingness to meet with students outside of class, or concern for students. Comment on an effective class session, reading or assignment.
  • DO make your comments constructive. Instructors are often interested in improving their courses and sometimes try different approaches which may or may not work. Give specific suggestions as to how the course could be improved (e.g., more timely return of assignments, assignments spread out more over the course of the semester, more group work, another possible text, a helpful article or video).
  • DON'T make emotional or “knee-jerk” statements, such as “This course stinks!” If the course material was not interesting to you, if the instructor seemed unfair, if the students in the class seemed uninspired, write these comments and give examples to illustrate what went wrong. Make clear what efforts you made to try to improve the learning process for everyone involved.
  • DON'T comment on the instructor’s physical appearance. Focus on items directly related to learning. If an instructor has a distracting or nervous habit, or speaks too softly, he or she will want to know.

Instructors appreciate student comments, so please take the time to fill out course surveys. It shows concern when you take the time carefully to evaluate the course and your own learning.

Source: Professors Ann Engar and Carolan Ownby