Preparing Students for End-of-the-Semester Evaluations
With the end of the semester looming, one important but easy to overlook item remains: student completion of faculty evaluations. These evaluations are an important component of job application and tenure and promotion packages. The ratings and comments found in the evaluations also enable instructors to learn where students see elements of a course as going well or falling short. However, since UF students no longer bubble in their evaluations on Scantron sheets during the final class meeting, the most challenging part of these evaluations can be getting students to actually complete them. Here are some ways you can encourage your students to complete their end-of-the-semester faculty evaluations.
Provide Regular Reminders
Each course site enables you to provide a toolbar link to GatorRater (if it is not already enabled, you can activate that link via the Navigation tab found under the Settings for your course site). You might also consider sharing the link via announcements and emails at regular intervals leading up to the end of the evaluation period.
Appropriately Incentivize Completion
No matter how much you may want your students to complete their evaluations, you cannot incentivize their completion by offering extra credit or the like. According to UF policy, you do have one option to strongly encourage completion: you can delay release of feedback and grades for particular assignments until a certain percentage of students complete their evaluations. See the Response Rates section found at the bottom of UF’s Faculty Evaluation Policies and Practices page for more information.
Some students may not realize that completing an evaluation for your course actually matters to you. When discussing faculty evaluations with students, be sure to emphasize the importance of evaluations in enabling you to better understand their perspective on how the semester went. Whatever positives you emphasize (potential to pay it forward and improve future semesters, opportunity to have their voice heard, etc.), let students know that completing the evaluations is worth their time.
Provide an In-Class Opportunity
If your class meets in-person, you might provide students with a 15-minute block of time at the beginning or end of class to complete their evaluations on their laptops, smartphones, or other devices. You cannot ensure that students complete the evaluations during that time — in fact, you can’t even be in the room while they’re completing the evaluations — but providing that time can encourage a higher completion rate.
In preparing future courses, consider the advice of other instructors when planning for their evaluation. In addition to a formal end-of-the-semester evaluation, you might also include multiple, informal course evaluations, as they can cultivate a more open feedback loop from the start and enable students to feel heard earlier in the semester when adjustments are possible. You could consider supplementing UF’s faculty evaluation with your own highly focused evaluation form that allows students to give feedback on what to keep, modify, and remove from your course. You might also give attention to those areas that students are likely to focus on when giving feedback in their evaluations (such as rationale for grading or how soon after submission feedback is provided).
Do you have questions regarding the activation of your student evaluations? You can contact your Office Manager for assistance. Want to learn more about UF policies regarding faculty evaluations? The Policies and Practices page is a great place to start.