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During the last weeks of the semester, students are asked to evaluate their classes.  These evaluations stay open through the end of exams.  Students are asked to evaluate classes before they can see their grades (although they can opt out and will see their grades after evaluations close). Instructors cannot see their evaluations until a few days after the date grades are due.

Using End of Semester Evaluations to Improve Your Teaching

End of semester student evaluations can offer some insight into ways to improve your teaching for future semesters. As you read your end of semester evaluations, keep the following in mind:

  • Look for patterns. Individual responses are often contradictory or revealing of only one person's perspective. Look for ratings or comments that repeat across a variety of students. Do not fixate on outliers. Similarly, do not fixate on negative individual comments, which may not be meaningful.
  • Think about your goals. As you reflect on your student evaluations think about what you wanted students to get out of class and your own assessment of the class. Put those ideas into dialog with what the students say. Use student comments to prompt questions for yourself, not as the last word on what to do.
  • Averages don't tell the whole story. You may want to consider distributions and clusters of student answers.
  • Take care of yourself. Ask a friend or colleague to help you put the numbers and comments into perspective. Many of us tend to remember the negative comments and miss the more general reactions.
  • Ignore small differences. There is little you should conclude if your student evaluations have dropped, or risen, by a few tenths of a point from last semester.
  • Look at your difficulty ratings. Remember that difficult classes do not always produce low student satisfaction. There is evidence that students value a challenge if they feel they have been given the tools to meet that challenge.
  • Get other feedback. Student evaluations should not be the only measure of your teaching. You may want to consider having other faculty or CTL staff observe your class or review your syllabi or assignments.

Ask for a consult at the Center for Teaching and Learning to arrange for observations, get a recording of your teaching, or strategize individually with CTL staff about ways to respond to student evaluations.

You can also explore ways to collect mid-semester and self-created feedback on your teaching.