Quebec ruling supports confidentiality
of researchers’ interviews
Au Québec, une décision appuie le caractère confidentiel
des entrevues réalisées par les chercheurs
Nota bene Ce mois-ci This month
Universities see benefits with online
process for student evaluations
But many seek effective strategies to compensate for lower response rates
the last day of class used to be reserved for
course evaluations – short surveys meant to canvass students about their experiences in the class
and with the instructor. But as more universities
move to online evaluations, some of them are
struggling with what to do about low student-response rates.
Samer Saab, chief executive of eXplorance,
a Montreal company that develops and operates
course-evaluation software, said more postsec-
ondary institutions are moving to an online pro-
cess because of the many benefits the system
provides. “We’re doubling our business on a
year-over-year basis,” he said.
Online forms are less costly because they
eliminate printing costs as well as the need for
administrative staff to scan and input data. Uni-
versities are able to prepare reports for faculty
members and senior administrators in days
rather than months, said Mr. Saab. This is criti-
cal, he adds, because the faster you can produce
results, the faster professors and staff can act on
the information and the more that students feel
their feedback has been heard. “When they feel
heard they will want to be part of the process for
the long-term,” Mr. Saab said.
However, online evaluations present chal-
lenges too, and one of the biggest is lower
response rates. The proportion of students com-
pleting paper forms is usually higher, at about
70 or 75 percent, because “you have a captive
audience,” said Mr. Saab. Students must complete
online forms outside the classroom on their own
time, so fewer of them tend to do it. Response
rates are important, not least because the evalu-
ations are used, among other things, as part of
faculty assessment for tenure and promotion.
Universities can take measures to boost participation, he said. They can ask students to
I found the course intellectually stimulating.
The course instructor encouraged a
collaborative atmosphere in the classroom.
The course provided instruction on
how to evaluate the credibility of various
sources of information.
The course instructor explained
AT ALL SOMEWHAT MODERATELY MOSTLY
Online course evaluation