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Course Evaluation Surveys

Students are the principle clients of the education system and surveys of their opinions are one of the most important sources of evidence about quality in higher education. They can provide very useful suggestions for improvement that should be considered in the quality cycle for improvement as applied to individual courses, programs, and institutional planning.

There are a number of general principles that should be followed if student surveys are to be as useful as possible.

  1. It must be made clear to students that all survey responses are anonymous.
  2. Course evaluation surveys should be distributed and collected by someone other than the course instructor.
  3. Surveys should include common questions to enable them to be used for comparisons within departments and colleges and institutions and between institutions. (The use of common questions does not prevent the addition of optional additional questions appropriate for different courses, programs or institutions.)
  4. Some open ended questions should be included to permit respondents to comment on additional matters of concern.
  5. In addition to a number of individual items relating to matters considered important, surveys can include one or two summary items that can be used as general quality indicators.
  6. To be used for bench-marking quality between institutions the surveys should be distributed in similar ways and at similar times and comparisons made between comparable institutions.
  7. Questions should be consistent over time (normally at least three years) so that valid trend data can be obtained.
  8. The validity of responses depends on having a reasonable response rate. Normally at least 50% is essential.

To encourage participation:

  • Surveys should not be overused.
  • Use should be made of the responses, and summary reports and indications of action taken in response made available.
  • The surveys should not be too long (a maximum of 20 to 25 items plus a small number of open ended items is usual)


    Recommended Surveys

    Three surveys are recommended:

    1. Course Evaluation Survey (CES) a course evaluation survey that can be distributed at the end of a course. It is recommended that this survey be distributed in each course once each year and that it be distributed in at least one course taught by each instructor at least once each year.

    The survey does not directly assess the quality of teaching by individual instructors. However the evaluation of the course is seen as a reasonable measure of the quality of teaching in a way that minimizes personal issues that could inhibit responses from students.

    The survey asks questions about a number of aspects of each course. The final question is intended to provide a summary question that might be used as a general quality indicator.

    2.Student Experience Survey (SES) This is intended as a general survey that might be distributed to all students part way through their program—mid way through the second semester of the second year in a four year program is recommended.

    The survey deals with the student’s life at the institution including both major elements of the program in which they are enrolled and a number of general items relating to services and facilities.

    3.Program Evaluation Survey (PES) This survey is intended for use at the time students have finished their program and are about to graduate. It is recommended that it be distributed shortly before final year classes are finished so their opinion of the total program at that stage can be assessed.

    The questions include a number of items about the program itself together with some items similar to those in the SES that deal with their life as a student at the institution. As for the other surveys the final question is a summary item that might be used as a general quality indicator.


    Response Scale

    It is recommended that each item in the surveys be responded on a five point scale. The recommended scale is:

    5 - Strongly agree (with the statement)

    4  - Agree

    3 - Neutral (or undecided)

    2 - Disagree

    1 - Strongly disagree

    The numbers shown here are not included on the survey forms. However those numbers should be used for summarizing responses from students and developing average responses to each item.

    The survey forms have been prepared in a form that could be used for scanning. However the forms would need to be re-formatted to suit the requirements of any machine scoring system used in an institution.

    التحديث جمادى الآخر 1439هـ Updated February 2018