Message sent to all Spring 2021 Instructional Staff on January 18, 2021.
Dear Faculty and Instructional Staff,
In 2017, Lehigh moved to online administration of course evaluations. National data as well as Lehigh data indicate that online course evaluations often suffer from low response rates. Faculty have raised concerns about a number of important implications of low response rates, including having too few responses to report and skewing the results in ways that are not always predictable. The good news is that there is growing empirical support for a set of practices to increase participation rates for online course evaluations.
None of this is to say that course evaluations are the only or even the most important means of evaluating the quality of instruction, and higher response rates do not negate other issues such as biases that can shape evaluations. General guidance on the interpretation of course evaluations can be found here:
More information on how different biases operate in course evaluations can be found here:
Course evaluations are but one means, and an imperfect means of evaluating the quality of instruction. You should consider adopting or asking your department to adopt other methods for demonstrating excellence in teaching. In the meantime, the attached document offers suggestions for how to improve student response rates and thus the utility of course evaluations for you.
Getting the Most Out of Online Course Evaluations
There are steps supported by empirical research that you can take to get the most out of online course evaluations and to increase participation rates. Because there is mixed support at best for “incentive” style methods for increasing response rates, we do not recommend those. Some actions that we do recommend that you can try before the semester, during the semester, and at the time of administering evaluations are below.
Actions you can take before or early in the semester include:
Actions that you can take during the semester include:
At the time of course evaluations:
Nathan Urban, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Jackie Krasas, Deputy Provost for Faculty Affairs
Yenny Anderson, Vice Provost for Institutional Research & Strategic Analytics
Greg Reihman, Vice Provost for Library and Technology Services