Approximately 100,000 online course evaluations were sent out via email to students late April 3. To date, approximately 16 percent of those evaluations have been completed.
The evaluations are scheduled to remain open until April 15. Students who participate will be entered into a drawing for two, three or four iPads, depending on the percent of student participation in the process.
The new evaluation system comes as a result of the Texas H.B. 2504, a bill that requires evaluation of state university courses to be made available online. Given this new requirement, UTSA’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) decided to process evaluations through an online interface, replacing paper evaluations that were administratively costly to the university.
Fall of 2010 was the first full attempt at such an implementation, following a part paper, part online evaluation during the 2010 summer semester. The evaluation process was fraught with a number of technical issues. Some students received multiple emails for a single course while others received no emails at all.
This semester, the OIT has opted to send out all of a student’s course evaluation links in a single email, reducing the inbox clutter that the former system created. The OIT has also changed the evaluation confirmation system from an email to a pop-up PDF document, provided upon completion, that may be presented to any professor who offer extra credit for student participation.
Unfortunately, the confirmation system has been limited in its reliability since, to receive the PDF, the student taking the survey must have pop-up blockers disabled.
“Following the evaluation period, we want to sit down with IT and figure out what worked and what didn’t,” Doug Atkinson, director of evaluations and surveys, said.
Atkinson said that the confirmation system will be assessed and revised as needed.
For this semester, Atkinson said that the PDF confirmation will be supplemented with an email to be sent either Monday or Tuesday of next week, confirming students’ completion of their evaluations.
Beyond the technical issues, some students simply do not feel that the evaluations really matter to the administration.
“I only did the evaluation because my professor offered extra credit,” Hope Johnson, a senior studying criminal justice, said. “I don’t think the administration pays attention to what we say, so to me it’s just a waste of time.”
Deena Smith, a senior English major, had similar feelings.
“I haven’t done the evaluations, but based on what I’ve heard, they can’t be taking them seriously,” Smith said. “How can you analyze the quality of a course with just two questions?”
In addition to the two required questions asking about the quality of the professor and the quality of the course, departments are able to include additional questions from a question bank of over 900 questions.
Following the completion of evaluations, the information collected will be made available to students via Bluebook (bluebook.utsa.edu), a sub-domain designed with the intent of meeting requirements outlined by H.B. 2504.