Though end-of-course evaluations are mandatory, there has been a recent push to reduce costs by moving them online.
The cost of printing, issuing and processing state mandated end-of-semester course evaluations is approximately $250,000. Under House Bill 2504, universities are required to have students complete the five-question evaluation posted on the HB 2504 website for each course, along with the professor’s syllabus and CV. The university is required to make the HB 2504 website accessible from its homepage.
Two senators from the Associated Student Government, Kiley Cook and Meghan Bates, authored a resolution in November in an effort to improve the HB 2504 website.
Cook and Bates wrote in the resolution that “evaluations taken by students are generally slanted by a positive inflation which can be seen as potentially inaccurate due to many students wishing to quickly leave class or not understanding the importance of the end of course evaluation.” The resolution goes on to state “the campus wide consumption of paper to print surveys can be reduced by offering these evaluations online rather than through valuable paper resources.”
The resolution proposes the location of the HB 2504 link on the university website be re-evaluated, and the site be modified to allow student evaluations to be completed through online access.
Debbie Thorne, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, said she is in charge of the university’s compliance with the bill. The university’s Testing, Research, Support & Evaluation Center processes the course evaluations.
Thorne said the center is responsible for scanning each evaluation and providing the information to each individual department. The departments then process the open-ended questions on course evaluations. These comments are not available for viewing.
Currently, course evaluations can only be completed electronically for online classes. Cook, international relations sophomore, said he thinks students would be more likely to give honest answers on course evaluations if they were offered online. He believes students would “go the extra mile” to do the survey.
Thorne said online evaluations would be less costly than paper evaluations and would take less time to process. However, the representation of results would be greatly reduced because students would likely opt out of completing them.
“We always want to lower costs, but with the number of courses, syllabi and students, I think the cost is quite reasonable,” Thorne said.
Cook said he thinks participation in course evaluations would drop at first if they were offered online, but the results would be more accurate and money would be saved.
“Eventually, over time, the participation will increase by either offering incentives to do the evaluation online or simply by informing students that their opinion is valid and important,” Cook said.
Thorne saidand other student organizations should encourage students to take course evaluation seriously as opposed to filling them out quickly and rushing out of class.
Cook said it would be better for some students not to fill out course evaluations at all rather than “blowing them off.”
“I take my course evaluations very seriously,” said Joanna Parsons, fashion merchandising sophomore. “When students do not take them seriously, they are hurting their professors and themselves. I think if they were optional, the majority of students would choose not to do them.”
On the other hand, Andrea Johnson, communication design sophomore, said she doesn’t like filling out course evaluations. Johnson dislikes taking time to answer questions when she doesn’t think her answers will be taken into consideration.
Cook said ultimately the students’ ability to pass on positive and negative information about their professors is both a right and responsibility, but most of all it is a choice.