Frequently Asked Questions for Students about End of Semester Course Evaluations

How do students access their course evaluations?

http://www.upenn.edu/eval. Then login with your PennKey

What are the benefits of evaluating classes?

There are three main reasons students should complete course evaluations.

  1. Strengthen teaching at Penn: Instructors use the course evaluations to improve their teaching. Each instructor receives a compilation of the responses and the comments to use in evaluating their own teaching and planning future courses.
  2. Make Penn Course Review better: The student editors of the Penn Course Review use course evaluations to write the guide many students use for choosing classes. So, the greater numbers of evaluations and comments will lead to more detailed information when students are selecting courses.
  3. Assess instruction: Colleagues, department chairs, Deans, and the Provost use student reviews as a part of the tenure and promotion process. Teaching excellence matters in deciding whether a professor gets promoted and student evaluations are an important part of evaluating a professor’s teaching abilities. For adjunct faculty and graduate student teachers, evaluations are used by department administrators and supervisors to improve performance and make hiring decisions.

How do Penn course evaluations work?

Student course enrollments are loaded into the Penn Course Evaluations system for all courses selected by the Schools for evaluation. Students log in with PennKey and will see a list of evaluations, usually one per section. Students complete the evaluation for each section separately. Students will have the option to save and come back later to complete any given evaluation. Once an evaluation has been submitted, it will no longer be available to the student for changes.

Most evaluations have approximately 20 questions (more if you have additional instructors) and we estimate it will take five to ten minutes to complete.

When do students complete their evaluations?

Students receive an announcement via email to let them know once the course evaluations are available. If they do not complete the evaluation, they may receive one or more email reminders until the evaluation period ends. During the evaluation window (which typically lasts from the last week of the semester until about a day or so after exams), students who have not evaluated their courses will be prompted to do so when they check their grades in Penn In Touch.

Can students see their grades without filling out an evaluation?

Students may still access grades without completing an evaluation. When students who have not completed all their course evaluations go online to check their grades through Penn In Touch, they will be prompted to complete their evaluations. However, the evaluation system will have an “opt out” option for each evaluation. Before viewing grades during the evaluation period, students must either complete their evaluations or opt out of their evaluations. All open evaluations must be completed before display of any grades. Once the evaluation period is over, students can see their grades without being prompted.

Can I fill out course evaluations after the evaluation period is over?

No. In order to preserve the integrity of the evaluation responses, evaluations must be completed within a reasonable period after completion of the course and before grades are available to students.

Will instructors see what students have written on evaluations before assigning grades?

No. Instructors are not able to see reports on their course evaluations for a given semester until after the grade submission period is over for that semester

How does Penn course evaluations protect student anonymity?

Although each student uses Pennkey authentication when logging onto the system and the system uses that information to present the proper courses to evaluate, the student’s name and Penn ID are not stored with the evaluation record.

Instructors and administrators have access to reports compiling the information from all the evaluations in a course. However, those reports do not present information that could identify an individual student. As a general rule, to maintain anonymity courses with two or fewer students and independent study courses will not be evaluated. Each school will manage the process of selecting which courses are evaluated.

What should I do if my professor has asked me to wait to fill out my course evaluation after the exam, but I need to have my transcript now?

Instructors may request that you wait until the last day of class or the final exam before filling out your evaluation, but students may complete evaluations any time after the start of the evaluation window. If you need to see your transcript, you should complete the evaluation or opt out of the evaluation.