Preparing for the Evaluations: Issues to Avoid

It is recommended that Department Heads and Chairs, their DUS/DGS designees, and/or Departmental Points of Contact coordinate a faculty review of course evaluation procedures and of the department’s Departmental Query Spreadsheet before it is submitted to the Office for Faculty Affairs. The following is a list of common issues to keep in mind as you prepare for the course evaluation process.

Issue 1: Only students in one section of a multi-section course received the course evaluation. Students in the other sections did not receive the evaluation.

Explanation: Although there is always a chance for a data entry error, the most frequent explanation is that only one section has been listed when the Departmental Point of Contact returns our Departmental Query Spreadsheet. The inclusion of students who are to receive the course evaluation is driven by the CRN (rather than by the course name). The CRN (Course Registration Number) is a unique number assigned to each section of a course by the registrar’s office. CRNs may designate different sections of students in a large lecture course, or they may designate a lecture section of a course vs. lab section. Both the lecture and lab sections will have different CRNs. If only one CRN is provided to the Office for Faculty Affairs for a multi-section course, only students in the section linked to the CRN will receive the evaluation.

Suggestion: Faculty Affairs does not maintain information that would enable us to discern whether a particular course should or should not have an evaluation offered for a particular section (CRN#). Departmental Points of Contact are responsible for checking the Departmental Query Spreadsheet to ensure that all of the CRN#s for all desired sections of each course, including, for example, lecture (LEC), lab (LAB), and discussion (DIS) sections, are included.

Issue 2: My course is cross-listed and students who registered under the outside departments did not receive the evaluation.

Explanation: The inclusion of students who are to receive the course evaluation is driven by the CRN under which they are registered. If CRNs from the cross-listed (outside) departments are not included on the Departmental Query Spreadsheet, then students registered under those CRNs will not receive the evaluations.

Suggestion: Departmental Points of Contact should flag all cross-listed courses and should ensure that the CRNs for cross-listed sections are included and highlighted in yellow on the Departmental Query Spreadsheet. This may require manually entering the CRN onto the form and contacting the departments in which the courses are cross-listed to determine if they have included the CRN# on their Departmental Query Spreadsheet. Ensuring that all CRNs are included on the Departmental Query Spreadsheet becomes particularly important when your course is cross-listed under an outside Department/College that is not participating in the campus course evaluation process.

Issue 3: Students were invited to evaluate my course and I did not know my course was to be evaluated.

Explanation: With the exception of the possibility that a data entry error could have occurred, this error stems from a communication issue. Faculty in each department should have a protocol for communicating to the Departmental Point of Contact to indicate which courses are not to receive an evaluation.

Suggestion: If your department does not already have a communication protocol for course evaluations, please suggest to your DUS, DGS, Head, or Chair that one is created.

Issue 4: Students did not receive an invite to evaluate my course, but I was expecting my course to receive an online course evaluation.

Explanation: With the exception of the possibility that a data entry error could have occurred, this error stems from a communication issue. Faculty in each department should have a protocol for communicating to the Departmental Point of Contact to indicate which courses are to receive an evaluation. If this occurs, please contact the Office for Faculty Affairs to have your course evaluated.

Suggestion: If your department does not already have a communication protocol for course evaluations, please suggest to your DUS, DGS, Head, or Chair that one is created.

Issue 5: One of the comments on my course evaluation report appeared to have been directed toward an instructor other than myself.

Explanation: The email invitation students receive clearly lists the course and instructor for the course being evaluated, it is possible a student will complete the wrong evaluation for the wrong course.

Suggestion: Due to the high level of confidentiality inherent in the construction of our system, the Office for Faculty Affairs staff is not capable of retroactively identifying students and removing erroneously completed forms from the system. The best way to prevent this error is to remind students to pay attention to the course and instructor name in the subject line and body of the email invitation to ensure they are completing the correct evaluation for your course. If this occurs, have student email the Departmental Point of Contact, explaining the error. The Departmental Point of Contact should note this as an appendix to the report, once it is delivered, so that mean scores or other data may be corrected and re-extracted sans error.

Issue 6: A student lost/deleted all of his/her invitation emails with the password and link to the course evaluation.

Suggestion: Unless it is Friday, the last day of classes, you may wish to remind the student that he/she will receive the daily reminder email containing the link and password. If a student has deleted all of the reminders, the student may contact the Office for Faculty Affairs and we will manually request the server to issue the student a new link and unique password for your course

Issue 7: Some students in my course cannot find the course evaluation link in their emails.

Explanation: If some students in your course are receiving the course evaluation links and others are not, there may be two possible explanations:

  1. The student is not checking his/her UIC email account. If the student is using an outside email account linked to the UIC email account, it is possible that the invitation email has landed in the junk or spam folder of the outside email accoun
  2. The students are registered under a CRN that was not included in the Departmental Query Spreadsheet submitted to our office by your Departmental Point of Contact.

Suggestion: When communicating with your students, it will become apparent which of the two explanations pertains. If neither explanation applies, please contact the Office for Faculty Affairs.

Issue 8: An instructor’s name was used as a placeholder and the wrong name is on the report

Explanation: The instructor for a course is not known and a placeholder name is chosen. This name is not changed on Banner and was not changed on the query, so the evaluation and report is in the wrong instructor name.

Suggestion: Once the correct instructor name is identified, the change may be submitted on an updated Departmental Query Spreadsheet or you may call the Office for Faculty Affairs to give them the correct information.