How are course evaluations conducted?
Waterloo Engineering ran a small-scale trial of a campus-built course evaluation platform in fall 2015. The platform functioned as expected and response rates remained stable, prompting the faculty to transition all course evaluations from paper-based to electronic delivery for the winter 2016 academic term. A small number of courses meeting specific criteria may continue to be evaluated using the paper questionnaire.
Students and instructors may access the course evaluation system at https://evaluate.uwaterloo.ca (login required).
The method of delivery is the only change being made at this time. The content of the questions; the evaluation dates; the procedures on evaluation day; and the processing, use and sharing of results data will continue to adhere to long-established practices.
What are Course Critiques?
Course Critiques is the name given to student course evaluations in Waterloo Engineering. Established over 40 years ago, the Course Critiques tradition grew from a partnership between the faculty and students. Today, Course Critiques continue to allow students the opportunity to provide direct feedback to course instructors. This feedback is a key component in the ongoing improvement of our teaching and learning environment.
When are Course Critiques administered?
Course Critiques are administered over a two-week period after mid-term exams. This is usually weeks 10 and 11 of each term.
What are the procedures on evaluation day?
Instructors set aside class time for the completion of course evaluations whether electronic or paper-based and leave the classroom while students complete the questionnaires. In classes using electronic delivery, students access the online evaluations during class using their own internet-enabled devices. Evaluations will also be available outside of class time to ensure that students who are absent from class on evaluation day have the opportunity to provide their feedback to the instructor. In classes using paper-based delivery, student volunteers distribute and collect questionnaires.
What happens with completed questionnaires?
When students complete electronic questionnaires, the results are held within the platform. Student volunteers are called on to screen the text-based comments for inappropriate content. Evaluation results and screened comments become available to instructors only after final grades have been entered.
Paper-based questionnaires are also screened by student volunteers who screen for inappropriate comments while preparing the questionnaires for scanning. After final grades have been entered, the original questionnaires are delivered to the course instructor.
What do course evaluation results say?
Distributions of the scores for summative questions, as shown in the figures below, indicate that Waterloo Engineering students experience effective teaching in the vast majority of courses.
Who uses course evaluation results?
Instructors and faculty members regularly use course evaluation results to improve their teaching. Department chairs use course evaluation results to inform tenure and promotions decisions. And the Associate Dean, Teaching reviews course evaluation results at both the individual and aggregate levels to guide individual instructors and departments in enhancing their teaching.
When are the results available?
Results are released only after final grades have been entered, usually in the first week of the following term.
How can I access results?
If you have a question about course evaluations that is not answered here, please contact Kathy Becker, Teaching Development Associate.