Online Course Evaluations Developed

Academic information services has been working on a program that allows departments to conduct course evaluations online. The School of Nursing was the first to try out the program last semester, and NMU is planning to expand this service to additional departments on campus.

Most departments use bubble sheets to evaluate their courses, which are scanned in and scored electronically. Clerical employees often have to type in students’ comments, a manual process that could be avoided with the new online method. It allows students to access their course evaluation using a Web-based interface.

Evaluation forms are created and linked to appropriate courses by the academic department and the results are calculated electronically and sent to the department head. The system also sends the comments, but does not link any responses to specific students, thereby helping to guarantee student anonymity.

“It’s most efficient in the sense that they are not using the bubble sheet,” said Darlene Walch (AIS). “There is no transcription for written comments.”

The program is easy to use; it is similar to using Web-CT, Walch said. However, the program doesn’t fit all departments due to several factors.

“The way it’s currently designed, it may not offer the flexibility that some departments need,” Walch said.

For instance, the program doesn’t allow different instructors teaching the same course—as in the case of EN 111, which has many sections taught by different teachers—to change the evaluation questions to suit a particular class. This is due to the fact that the program can’t distinguish between course and section.   

“We are trying to work toward using multiple forms,” Walch said.

Walch has been in contact with the departments of political science and criminal justice and is looking for other departments that can benefit from course evaluations online.

“At this point we’re looking to migrate other departments, especially those who rely on bubble sheets, when it’s appropriate for them,” Walch said.



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Updated: November 17, 2004