Course Critiques

For over 40 years, Waterloo Engineering students have given feedback on their learning experiences through in-class surveys known as Course Critiques.

In 2016 the Faculty of Engineering adopted electronic delivery of Course Critiques, but retained the same survey questions that had been in use for over ten years. In 2022, Waterloo adopted the Student Course Perceptions (SCP) questions. This move was part of a larger project reconsidering teaching assessment proceses at Waterloo.

Core (institutional) questions

In 2014, Waterloo's Course Evaluation Project Team (CEPT) began researching and developing a set of core questions. Following testing and revision, the Teaching Assessment Processes unit recommended that the core questions below be implemented in winter 2021; however, since the pandemic necessitated emergency remote teaching, the decision was made to postpone the implementation to winter 2022.

The core questions are listed on the Student Course Perceptions page, and copied below:

  1. The intended learning outcomes for this course were identified. (strongly disagree to strongly agree).
  2. The course activities prepared me for the graded work.(strongly disagree to strongly agree).
  3. The intended learning outcomes were assessed through my graded work.(strongly disagree to strongly agree).
  4. The instructor helped me to understand the course concepts.(strongly disagree to strongly agree).
  5. The instructor created a supportive environment that helped me learn.(strongly disagree to strongly agree).
  6. The instructor stimulated my interest in this course.(strongly disagree to strongly agree).
  7. *The workload demands for this course were ... (very low to very high)
  8. The most important thing I learned in this course was … (open-ended)
  9. What helped me to learn in this course was …(open-ended)
  10. What changes, if any, would I suggest for this course? (open-ended)

Faculty-level questions under development

In 2020, Engineering began the work of identifying Faculty-level teaching & learning priorities in order that we might develop Engineering-specific questions to add to the core questions for our Course Critique surveys. Once  these questions have been developed and tested, there may be opportunity to add additional questions at the department, program, and/or instructor levels.

Criteria for inclusion

Criteria for inclusion

In spring 2022, Engineering's Criteria for Inclusion were updated to include more course types.

For both undergraduate and graduate courses, Course Critiques are completed when the following criteria are met:

  • Component is taught to engineering students
  • Component is of type LEC, LAB, STU, PRJ, RDG, or SEM and section begins with “0”
  • Course has a credit weight greater than 0.0
  • Component has a minimum enrolment of five (5)

​Each term, the Teaching Portfolio works with contacts in academic units to set up Course Critiques for all courses meeting the above criteria. If you would like a Course Critique for a course that does not meet the above criteria, please connect with the Course Critique contact for your area.

Note that Course Critique surveys are not administered to a class of fewer than 5 students.


For both undergraduate and graduate Course Critiques, the following procedures are followed:

  1. Registrar's Office provides the Teaching Development Associate with reports including all courses being taught to Engineering students in the current term. (around week 5 of term)
  2. Contacts in academic units log in to the survey platform and set up one Course Critique survey for each course in their area that meets the criteria outlined above, along with any special requests that have been approved by the academic unit. (around week 7 of term)
  3. Teaching Development Associate reviews all surveys, confirming that correct settings have been applied and verifying any special requests.  (around week 8 of term)
  4. Teaching Development Associate sends Instructor Guidelines for Course Critiques (PDF) and a PowerPoint slide (pptx) to all faculty teaching members with Course Critiques set up on the survey platform. (around week 9 of term)
  5. Faculty teaching members give students time in class to complete Course Critiques. (weeks 10 and 11 each term)
  6. Teaching Development Associate undertakes promotion activities in collaboration with Engineering Communications, EngSoc, and Engineering Computing to ensure adequate response rates. (week 11 of term)
  7. Student volunteers meet to review written comments, flagging any that are deemed abusive or otherwise inappropriate. (week 12 of term)
  8. Teaching Development Associate removes flagged responses and works with Engineering Computing to import numerical scores into Engineering Course Critiques relational database. (prior to and during exam period)
  9. Course Critiques results are released. (the first day of the following term)