Stony Brook University Teaching, Learning & Technology designed a new website for students to view previous course evaluation data.
This new website, classie-evals.stonybrook.edu, gives students the opportunity to view course evaluation data from previous years to aid in picking their courses.
The SUNY University Faculty Senate made the decision to allow this several years ago, but the Division of Information Technology needed time to develop the software. Comments from all class evaluations with information on the course are shown.
“This is a great way for students to see if a course is a good match for them,” Diana Voss, the manager of academic technology services, said. Voss is in charge of all technology support on campus.
This new software depends on students filling out course evaluations.
Before 2010, students were given class evaluations in class on paper. They had nearly a 70 percent response rate, according to the DoIT website. Spring 2011 was the first semester that course evaluations were available online in the hopes of making it easier for students to complete them in the digital age and in order to collect data more easily. However, after this switch, the response rate fell to about 36 percent.
“If we really want this system to work, students need to complete their course evaluations,” Voss said. “This way, over time, data will become more well-rounded.”
The Classie Evaluation Explorer system also shows how many students have responded to the course, so viewers will know if a low percentage of people responded.
“I think this system would definitely encourage more people to fill out evaluations,” sophomore economics major Antara Rabbani said. “It’s a really good idea. This is a school and if they want their students to succeed, students should be able to pick suitable classes.”
The new data system will not show comments about instructors specifically because the Faculty Senate would not be able to monitor that efficiently, so the senate was uncomfortable with that, Voss said. The site focuses on the class sections.
“Last week, I showed this new system to my students,” Voss said. “They were surprised at some of the information because they didn’t think that way about a certain class, which is why I told them this is why they need to fill out course evaluations.”
According to the DoIT website, DoIT has been trying to increase response rate for some time now. TLT and DoIT have considered making it mandatory for students to fill the evaluations out, but they think that although the response rate would go up, the quality of the data will go down. They also reported that faculty feels that since course evaluations have been put online, quality of responses they receive in the written data has increased.
“I think a lot students are lazy so they don’t want to fill out course evaluations,” sophomore English major Joanne Powell said.
TLT and DoIT want to encourage as many people as possible to fill out course evaluations because instructors view course evaluations as very valuable, Voss said.
“I think the new website to view past evaluations is a very good thing,” Powell said. “It should be very helpful because we make our own schedules and we could see what classes we would want to take much more easily.”