Committee on Student Feedback on Instruction Seeks Ways to Improve Student Participation

student-feedback-groveThe Committee on Student Feedback on Instruction (SFI) was tasked with determining best practices for improving student participation in the SFI surveys given at the end of courses each semester.

“We found after interviewing students, including SGA’s East Campus president, that they did
faculty-insight-news-idnot fully understand the reasons why survey completion was important,” said Jolene Rhodes, professor, mathematics, and committee chair.

Toward this end, the Committee determined that open and honest communication among our students is the better course of action as a College, rather than the use of “incentives” which may or may not be uniformly administered among all classes.

Moreover, the Committee found that it is important for students to understand why they are being asked to complete the class surveys.

“Students should understand that these surveys provide meaningful feedback regarding our courses and that we actively read and utilize the feedback to make changes that enhance the overall experience of the course,” Jolene continued.  “And while not all feedback is necessarily implemented wholesale, it is used to determine whether changes in the course are necessary from term-to-term.”

Sharing information with students about how their evaluations have led to actual changes in courses was deemed to be among one of the best ways to provide students with validation about taking part in this process.

What’s more, it is paramount that students understand that their honest feedback is crucial to the evaluation process, that anonymity is insured and their comments are not viewable until after grades have been entered into ATLAS. Therefore, it will have no impact on their grades, which continues to be a student concern.

One suggestion from instructors that has worked well to improve student participation is giving the students an opportunity to complete the SFI in one of their normal class meetings. This approach is similar to the pen and paper survey but makes use of their own technology like mobile devices and tablets.

“If you don’t choose to provide time in class, several colleagues have given an incentive such as a late homework pass, a quiz retake or similar incentives to students who provide proof of having completed the SFI,” says Jolene. “Others have used snacks for the class if a certain percentage is achieved.”

While the SFI Committee does not recommend extra credit, incentives such as those mentioned above have seemed to spur participation.

In response to faculty comments, CoursEval has actually added a new feature as of March 10, 2014. Now, students in the full term can click to send notification to their instructors by using the “send proof” option, showing they have completed the survey.

If you need this data, please ask students to send notification using this feature. Be sure to inform them that responses generated using this technology also remain anonymous and are only released after grades are posted. This new feature will be available in the other surveys launched later this semester.

“It is our belief that improving participation among our students begins with the faculty who are most directly in contact with them every day, and by working with the students we can create a culture of open and honest communication between ourselves and our students that will continue to strengthen Valencia’s position as one of the finest state colleges in the nation.”

If you have other ideas to improve survey completion rates, please contact Jolene at jrhodes@valenciacollege.edu to share with the SFI committee and others during future semesters.

Please remind students that the survey is available and will close for full-term classes on Friday, April 4, 2014. The surveys open and close earlier than in the 2012 – 2013 academic year. This was a faculty-made decision and the pilot will stay in place until fall 2014. A survey will be sent by the Council asking for your feedback on this pilot.

The SFI Committee developed a sample dialogue available for download here to help with the conversation with students.

The calendar can be found here

To login to your account visit www.valenciacollege.edu/via and select “Student Feedback.”

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