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History and Background

Prior to Spring 2010, all course evaluations for face-to-face delivered courses were administered in Scantron, or pencil-and-paper, format. Academic Affairs oversaw this process and distributed the course evaluation instrument and Scantron forms to academic departments. The Academic Computer Center collected and processed the forms and gave the reports to Academic Affairs. Academic Affairs returned the reports to the appropriate academic departments, who were charged with distributing and sharing the information accordingly.

As a result of conversations with students, upper administration decided to provide course evaluations in an online format for all courses taught at WSSU. A task force was assembled and several course evaluation vendors were considered before the committee decided to use Digital Measures Course Response. The course evaluation instruments for face-to-face and online courses, which were approved by the Faculty Senate in 2007, were uploaded into Digital Measures Course Response.

Course evaluations administered through Digital Measures Course Response were tested by Information Technologies in spring 2010. In addition, evaluations became available online for face-to-face delivered courses in spring 2010, at which time Institutional Assessment and Research began sharing in the responsibility of course evaluation administration. Summer sessions were evaluated beginning in summer 2010, and in summer 2011, separate evaluation periods were launched for the following summer sessions: Summer Session I 5-week, Summer Session I 6-week, Summer Session 1 8-week, Summer Session I 10-week, and Summer Session II 5-week.

Beginning in fall 2010, students were invited to complete course evaluations online through Digital Measures Course Response for all courses they completed in a face-to-face format and in an online format.

As of spring 2011, 1st 8 week/block I courses received separate evaluations. Writing in the Major courses (WIM), the university Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) initiative, also received a specific evaluation beginning in spring 2011.

Beginning in the spring of 2015, a new instrument was adopted, and evaluations were moved fully online. Pencil-and-paper (Scantron) course evaluations are no longer available. The new instrument consists of a set of core questions that all students answer for each instructor in a course. Students taking a course identified as Distance Learning and/or Writing in the Major (WIM) receive additional questions. In order to accommodate courses that do not fall into the 8- or 16-week format, the evaluations are now administered during different phases over the course of the semester.

In the summer of 2017, a new course evaluation software, Qualtrics, was adopted to replace Digital Measures Course Response.  Qualtrics offers students a new, modern interface that is fully mobile compatible.  While the course evaluation instrument and process have not changed, the reporting capabilities in Qualtrics Vocalize will allow faculty and department chairs to access data in a dynamic, interactive dashboard.  Faculty and department chairs will be able to view longitudinal data and easily identify trends.  

Although feedback regarding the online collection of course evaluation responses has been mostly positive, concerns still exist about response rates and team taught courses. The Department of Institutional Assessment and Research continues to research best practices for increasing online response rates and has initiated a new process to determine the accuracy of secondary instructors listed for all courses. Suggestions for improvement are always welcome and appreciated!

The course evaluation process at WSSU continues to progress as additional features and needs arise.