Online Student Ratings of Instruction

By D. Lynn Sorenson; Trav D. Johnson | Go to book overview

5
Online Student Ratings: Will Students
Respond?

Achieving adequate response rates can be a challenge for
online student-rating systems. In this chapter, online-
rating response rates and ways they can be improved are
examined.

Trav D. Johnson

Student ratings of instruction are the most common means of evaluating teaching at U.S. colleges and universities (Glassick, Huber, and Maeroff, 1997; Seldin, 1999). Student ratings have been administered almost exclusively during class time using paper-pencil questionnaires—a costly, timeconsuming process that is inconvenient for faculty and often restricts the thoughtfulness and depth of student responses.

The increasing use of technology in education, especially the World Wide Web, has led to the development of online administration and reporting of student ratings. In a survey of the two hundred “most wired colleges” in the United States, 25 percent of respondents said they were already using or were planning to convert to online student ratings (Hmieleski, 2000). A Web search (Clark, 2003) to discover institutions using online evaluations yielded more than sixty universities using online student ratings for some courses (for example, specific colleges or departments, distance-education courses) and eleven universities using online ratings for their entire campuses. Hoffman (Chapter Two in this volume) found that 10 percent (about twenty-five) of the respondents in his sample used online ratings as the primary means of collecting student-rating data on their campuses.

Online student ratings have many potential benefits, including ease of administration; more complete data collection; longer, more thoughtful student responses; reduced processing time and costs; more accurate data collection and reporting; and more detailed, user-friendly reports. There are also some major obstacles to successful implementation of online ratings, most notably, that of obtaining adequate response rates.

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