Although the popular trend among professors of rewarding extra credit to students who fill out the student evaluation of instruction is often a motivating incentive, a new platform adopted by the university brings an even greater benefit.
In the summer of 2017, Ohio State switched the platform it uses through which students complete SEIs, from Explorance Inc. to Blue, where students are given the chance to offer feedback and answer questions regarding an instructor, Cindy Davis, SEI program manager, said.
Davis said the change in platforms resulted in about a 15 percent increase in the student response rate.
“Initially, SEIs were all done on paper on bubble sheets, and that, obviously with the volume that we were doing, wasn’t really feasible to pass out all these bubble sheets and collect them, so they moved to an online platform,” Davis said.
Ohio State eventually adopted the online platform in Autumn 2015 where students could submit SEIs through a mobile app. The new platform allows the evaluations to be completed through CarmenCanvas, the university’s learning management system, Davis said.
In the fall semesters before SEIs were available through Carmen, Davis said response rates typically fell in the 49 to 50 percent range. With the new platform, the student response rate reached about 65 percent.
“By making the collection of the data available to students where they are, that is on their phone or in Carmen — where they go every day anyway — it’s really helped make it more convenient,” Alan Kalish, assistant vice provost in the Office of Academic Affairs, said.
Kalish said the larger pool of respondents results in a more accurate representation of the strengths and weaknesses of an instructor and his or her class.
“It gives the instructors confidence that they have a significant percentage of their students actually responding, so it’s not just the students who have really strong feelings one way or the other that are giving responses,” Kalish said.
Davis said another benefit of the new platform is that it offers more robust reporting capabilities.
“It’s more stable,” Davis said. “Reports are much faster for faculty members to get things like that.”
Now, students are able to offer their opinions regarding a class more effectively, leading to a greater possibility that instructors can accurately accommodate the feedback they are provided, Kalish said.
“Many of these instructors look at these results and say, ‘Oh, that seems to be a problem, let me fix that, or that seems to be working really well, let me do more of it,’” Kalish said. “I hope that with the greater response rates, we’ll get more people doing that.”
With the increase in the number of responses, Kalish said that the new platform more accurately reflects the voice of the student body at Ohio State.