Scrap the Scantrons — Course Evaluations Go Online

When it comes to course evaluations, a growing number of schools and departments will be canceling their Scantron orders this coming academic year, opting for pixels instead of paper. They are making the switch thanks to¬†EEE‘s new online course evaluation tool.

Previously a means for instructors and teaching assistants to assess the progress of learning in a class, EEE’s online evaluation tool can now be used for the formal course evaluation process, when authorized by the Dean or Associate Dean.

“This project has saved the School of Physical Sciences staff many hours,” asserts Cindy Fern, Academic Counselor, Physical Sciences.

One advantage of online course evaluations is that results are available immediately after final grade submission. Dr. Rudi Berkelhamer, Associate Dean, Division of Undergraduate Education used the online evaluation system in her University Studies class. She appreciates not only that the data was available much more quickly than in the previous paper-format, but also in a concise form easily imported into a database program for analysis.

Online evaluations conserve resources and reduce expenses. “This project has saved the School of Physical Sciences staff many hours,” asserts Cindy Fern, Academic Counselor, Physical Sciences. “Each of our departments had staff members who spent anywhere from 10 to 40 hours per quarter managing the paper process. With the on-line forms, the time spent each quarter has dropped to about one hour or less for each of the five staff members involved in the process.”

The online form also allows students more time to fill out the form, and in many cases they are more responsive. Bob Cassidy, School of Engineering observed: “This quarter we had 5,600 evaluations completed, so that’s almost twice the volume of what we did on paper.”

Dr. Robert Doedens, Chemistry Professor and Associate Dean, Physical Sciences recognizes that “the proportion of students providing free form comments is larger, the comments tend to be longer, and their overall quality is notably higher.” Dr. Doedens believes that “these changes are largely a result of the absence of time constraints during the completion of the evaluations.”

As of spring, 2005, 21 departments have migrated to the online tool. These include all departments in the schools of Engineering, Biological Sciences, Social Ecology, and Physical Sciences. The EEE Web development team works directly with faculty and staff to ensure that all evaluation needs are met. To find out more about EEE’s new department evaluations process, contact¬†eee@uci.edu.