UISG officials discuss online course evaluations


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University of Iowa students may one day take course evaluations online.

UI Student Government officials said having students take the evaluations online would be more beneficial in collecting student feedback data, which could later be published. UISG and university officials have been working together for the past decade to take the evaluations online.

"We want students to have the most information possible," said Kevin Paulsen, the executive associate to the UISG president.

The eventual goal of UI Evaluation and Examination Services officials is to make the Assessing the Classroom Environment form available online for students to fill out. But the results of the evaluations will not be made available to students.

At a UISG academic affairs meeting Tuesday, officials discussed making the Assessing the Classroom Environment the university's only evaluation. This, officials said, would make results more accurate.

Paulsen said UISG officials want to publish the data from only the student core items online in order to provide students with the opinions of their peers for those interested in taking the course later on. These student core items — which roughly 35 percent of the evaluations contain — are developed by UISG officials.

These statements include ratings on whether "Exams in this course were fair" and "This course requires an appropriate amount of work for the credit earned."

Some senators said the statements are not sufficient enough for the evaluation.

"Right now, [the statements are] too general," said UISG Sen. Nick Rolston. "I would rather target questions such as 'Was the instructor passionate in teaching this course?' "

"It's been very hard to compile [the items] in a way that will be helpful to students," Paulsen said. "If we can find a way to ask different statements, that's great. And that's something UISG can do."

But some senators are concerned allowing students to take evaluations online will decrease participation.

"If it's not tied to any incentive, you would think that participation would go down," said UISG Sen. Kyle Oskvig. "That's a downside [of going online]."

He said collecting data and publishing the results would be more effective, however, if students took the evaluation online.

Paulsen said officials have discussed making the evaluation mandatory to maintain participation. Oskvig suggested participating in the evaluation would be included in a student's grade.

According to the Evaluation and Examination Services website, professors and instructors have the option whether to use the evaluations. Those who do can choose what statements will appear.

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