Review the Research
First, a background on course evaluation research at many different institutions.
Some quick statistics, in Fall 2012:
- 60.8% of all available evaluations were completed.
- 67% of Columbia students filled out at least one evaluation, with 54% of all students evaluating all of their Fall 2012 courses.
- 31% of evaluations were submitted with written comments.
Student Evaluation Ratings, Grades, and Response Rates
We looked at all courses rated during Spring 2011 to see if there was a relationship between the ratings of a given course, the grades students got in that course, and the number of students who completed the evaluation for that course. We found no relationship between the response rate and either of the other two factors, and only a weak relationship between grades and evaluation ratings that we believe can be explained by course factors such as student learning and quality of instruction.
Student Learning Questions Over Time
There were five questions on the evaluation used from Spring 2007 to Spring 2011 that dealt with student perceptions of their own learning. The average across all Columbia courses consistently stayed in the "Agree" to "Strongly Agree" range. Note that evaluations Spring 2007-2010 were done on a 5-point scale and scores have been converted to match the current 4-point scale.
First-Year Student Ratings
We found that first-year students and other students tend to rate their courses in the "Agree" to "Strongly Agree" range, though first-year students on average rate their courses slightly lower. These graphs illustrate the questions on which this difference is most noticeable.