Student Evaluation of Teaching Program:
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: How are evaluations for teaching assistants handled?
A1: The method to evaluate teaching assistants (TA’s) is decided by each department.
- Some Departments may choose to evaluate a teaching assistant on the same form in a separate section just for TAs.
- Other departments may choose to have the teaching assistant conduct his/her own evaluation through a different CRN or class section.
- A department may elect to use a separate TA questionnaire evaluation for all TA led sections (CRN driven).
Q2: Why do my students receive multiple evaluations for co-taught courses instead of one evaluation that includes all instructors teaching the course?
A2: The Office for Faculty Affairs offers “module evaluations.” These evaluations are set up for multi-instructor courses. When module evaluations are used, students only have to complete one evaluation with a separate section for each instructor (rather than a completely separate evaluation for each instructor). Each instructor will only receive their own evaluation results. This option is available when specifically requested by the departments. Please contact the Office for Faculty Affairs for more information.
Q3: How do students access their course evaluations?
A3: Students receive an email invitation, inviting them to complete the evaluation for your course. We have chosen this approach because it is the most confidential, practical and accessible manner for our students.
Q4: Why not allow students to utilize other avenues for accessing the course evaluation system – Personal email accounts? Text messaging? Or via bluestem login to a central website?
A4: UIC email is used as the primary tag to identify participating students during our data extraction. It is the most reliable method for reaching our students, since every UIC student is provided with a UIC email address. There is no way to tailor the system so students may select a preferred method of delivery. Please see the following for a more detailed explanation.
Non-UIC Email Accounts – Our course evaluation server is automated and derives its data from a central repository, there is no possibility to tailor the system so that certain students may choose a non-UIC email address.
Text Messaging – Not all students provide campus with their personal cell phone numbers nor are they required to do so. For this reason, cell phone numbers are not part of our data extraction and we do not send the invitations via text.
Bluestem Login to a Central Website – Confidentiality of the system is maintained via email delivery of a link and unique password so each student may access the course evaluation system anonymously. If we allowed students to access a central website with their UIC bluestem login ID and password, we would be able to identify the students and we would no longer comply with confidentiality requirements.
Q5: Why can’t individual faculty members control when students access the system?
A5: Campus controls when students access the system for practical reasons and for procedural regularity. Practically, the only way to provide students with passwords to access the system is by sending the passwords to them directly via email. Because UIC is a large campus, it is not feasible for us to distribute the passwords to students via slips of paper or other individualized means. Procedurally, it is important for all faculty to follow the course evaluation timeline set by campus as closely as possible for their courses to maintain uniformity across courses.
Q6: Why can’t faculty see the actual online form that students receive?
A6: Our system does not allow faculty to enter the course evaluation system to view the forms students receive and complete. However, copies of each of the forms are provided in on the Faculty Affairs website. Your Departmental Point of Contact should know which form your department selected for the course evaluation system.
Q7: Why not open and close the teaching evaluation system to students earlier?
A7: Feedback from students indicates they prefer to wait as late as possible in the semester to provide their evaluations. Feedback from faculty indicates they prefer course evaluations occur as early as possible to avoid bias introduced by perceived grades. We have selected a date that considers both student and faculty perspectives. Our server sends students an email invitation containing a link and password to access the course evaluation the moment the teaching evaluation system is set. Each semester, we open the system (3) three weeks before finals week begins and close the system at midnight on the last day before finals week begins. Until students complete the evaluation for a course, follow-up reminders will continue for that course during the two-week period before finals week. Students do not receive follow-up reminders during finals week.
Q8: Why aren’t 596, 598, and 599 (independent study, thesis and dissertation research) courses included for evaluation?
A8: It is too easy to identify the students in these courses. In addition to confidentiality issues, it presents a conflict of interest for faculty and students engaging in independently supervised work.
Q9: How do I find the online course evaluation system?
A9: The system is housed within a campus server in the Office for Faculty Affairs. Due to the delivery method of the evaluations and reports, the system itself is not directly accessible.
Q10: Students are receiving reminders to complete my evaluations. How do they get them to stop?
A10: Reminders are programmed into the system and will stop once students submit the evaluation.
Q11: What can students/faculty do if they miss important course evaluation deadlines?
A11: Faculty can contact the Office for Faculty Affairs to schedule the evaluation at any time after the deadline. Student evaluations cannot be completed after the deadline. Once the evaluation period ends, there is no way to reopen the system for individual students. If students have feedback they feel is valuable, one suggestion is they write an email directly to the Departmental Point of Contact. He/she can accept the email as input for the course.
Q12: Who may I contact with questions?
A12: If your Departmental Point of Contact is unable to answer questions or if you are a Department Head interested in using the system, please contact Kim Richards, Associate Director in the Office for Faculty Affairs, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 312-413-1588 (3-1588).