That’s the message that University of Louisville administration is sending to faculty as the course evaluation process for all units goes online for the first time this semester.

The transition from paper to online evaluations is one that administration decided to pursue in response to a recommendation from the Student Government Association. It comes after two successful pilot projects of the Blue Evaluation system — one in fall 2009 and one in spring 2010.

Student response rates and faculty feedback from those pilot projects were good, said Bob Goldstein, associate university provost.

The overall response rate for both the fall and spring pilot projects were approximately 65 percent. In both semesters, four of the six academic units had response rates which exceeded 70 percent. Feedback from these units indicated these response rates were either comparable to or greater than their typical response rates, he said.

Better response rates are just some of the benefits of the system.

Faculty who participated in the pilot projects report that comments are more significant because students had time to think about their responses and were not rushed to complete the form before leaving class.

They also commented that they appreciated not having to spend class time to administer the evaluation and that there was no paper waste associated with the online process.

The online system also will provide a much quicker turnaround of the results than is possible with the paper evaluations, Goldstein said.

Here’s how the online evaluation process will work:

  • Students will receive an email invitation via GroupWise notifying them that their course evaluations are available for completion and giving them a link for the evaluations. Those who don’t respond will receive automatic reminders generated through the system. The departments will not know who has responded and who has not.
  •  Faculty will receive an email notification from the Office of Institutional Research & Planning (IRP) staff when the evaluations for their courses are available to students.
  • Once the evaluation period has closed and grades have been posted (no earlier than the first week of January), faculty will receive an email letting them know that they can view their reports. Course directors, department chairs, associate deans, and/or deans also may be able to see the reports if the unit has told IRP to grant them access.

In the meantime, Goldstein said, it is important for faculty to remind students of the importance of their input in the education process.