Students know the drill. At the end of every semester, they fill out course surveys and stick them in that mysterious manila envelope.
But what happens to those student evaluations after they are turned in?
The Institute for Learning and Teaching, TILT, is responsible for processing the student course evaluations. The responses to the survey are processed electronically. A final report of all the student responses and original surveys from the course are returned to the instructor after grades have been finalized.
Student course surveys, which must be administered by someone other than the course professor, serve two main purposes: to provide faculty with direct feedback from students and to provide students with information on professors that comes directly from their peers.
The surveys are paid for by student fees and were initially created as an Associated Students of CSU initiative.
After the surveys have been processed, TILT sends a final report of all the classes surveyed to ASCSU. Those reports are then put online, and anyone using a computer on campus or a CSU VPN to connect to the CSU network can access the survey reports at ascsucs.colostate.edu.
The standard questions on CSUâ€™s surveys ask students to rank their professorâ€™s performance, preparedness and fairness, to rank the quality of the facilities and to include some personal information including how much effort they put into the course. Professors can also add questions that pertain to an individual class.
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs Alan Lamborn said the surveys are useful because they give professors a systematic way of getting student perceptions of classes.
â€œ(Professors) would be flying blind if they didnâ€™t have anything to go off of,â€ Lamborn said.
Some departments use these evaluations as part of their considerations on whether professors get tenure or other promotions. Lamborn said departments must use multiple streams of evidence for these evaluations.
The College of Liberal Arts takes student input into consideration during faculty evaluations, a process conducted by the respective chair of each department, and as one piece of evidence to decide if faculty members will get promotions.
In the Department of Accounting within the College of Business, faculty members must submit their student course evaluations to the department chair as evidence for annual faculty performance evaluations, according to the departmental code. The surveys can also be used in deciding if a faculty member will get tenure or other promotions.
â€œThe opportunity to provide feedback about instructors, course design and resources allows students to impact various processes at the university,â€ John Didier, College of Liberal Arts associate dean for undergraduate studies, said in an e-mail.
Heather Rhoades, a junior biology major who transferred from the Colorado Mountain College, said the ability to give teachers negative feedback in an anonymous way is beneficial to students.
â€œIf you have a crappy teacher, you can tell them theyâ€™re a crappy teacher without having to say it to their face,â€ she said.
Didier said, in addition to evaluating teachers, the university also uses the surveys to improve its facilities and other classroom resources.
â€œWithin the college, we try to pass information about classrooms and other resources on to the unit on campus with the responsibility and authority to do something about the issue,â€ Didier said.
_Staff writer Keeley Blakley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. _
- Final reports from student course surveys can be viewed online at ascsucs.colostate.edu.