Marquette evaluates its evaluation process

Low student participation in online course evaluations may force a move for the feedback to be obtained while in class. Photo by Aaron Ledesma/

Students may soon be allotted time to complete their biannual course evaluations in class in an effort to increase response rates, according to Provost John Pauly.

Pauly said while Marquette is not changing this fall’s evaluation process, the university is currently conducting a pilot study to see how feasible it would be to allot class time for students to complete course evaluations on smartphones and laptops.

“Doing the evaluations in class takes a small amount of time, as it did with the paper instruments, but that may be a good tradeoff for higher participation in evaluations,” Pauly said.

Pauly said Marquette has seen a decline in the number of evaluations submitted since starting the MOCES (Marquette Online Course Evaluation System) program in 2008. Previously, students were able to complete teacher and course evaluations in class on paper.

“The results of the online course evaluations continue to be statistically valid, but faculty have expressed concern about the lower response rate in some classes,” Pauly said.

Pauly said keeping the surveys online would benefit students who could still complete evaluations even if they miss the class designated to collect the student feedback.

“We want to continue to use online evaluations because they allow us to return student feedback to professors much more quickly after grades are submitted, but we also would like more students to participate, in part so that we can capture the widest range of student comments,” Pauly said.

The university sent out a course evaluation announcement in an email to all students Monday with a link to the course evaluations.

This year, upon completion of the evaluations, students are eligible to receive a $1.00 coupon to the Brew Cafes and one student will be selected to win an iPad 2. Signs promoting participation in the evaluations have been posted around campus saying “Evaluations matter.”

Tommy Fandel, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, said he rarely does course evaluations.

“I only do them for the courses that need improvement,” Fandel said.

If more students had the time to take the surveys, Fandel said, there would be a higher response rate.

“If I had time in class to do course evaluations, I would do all of them,” Fandel said.

Fandel said he most likely would not work on course evaluations outside of the time given in class.

Tony Callahan, a junior in the College of Engineering, said he has only done course evaluations once.

“I had time, and I got the email,” Callahan said. “That’s really what it comes down to.”

Callahan said he had good teachers that year and wanted to give them positive feedback.

He said he would not be any more likely to complete the evaluations on a smartphone than he would on a laptop, but he would definitely do the evaluations if he had time to in class.