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Ways to Improve Student Course Evaluations

Lindsay McGuire
May 1, 2019
Min Read

As the end of another semester looms near, it’s time to begin thinking about launching your next round of student course evaluations. For most college professors, sending out course evaluations at the end of the semester is mandated by the university. The results from these surveys could impact your pay raise, teaching options, award nominations, and tenure opportunities. That’s a lot riding on one simple feedback form!

But there’s a long-standing issue many professors face each semester when sending out student course evaluations: low submission rates. It’s impossible to get a realistic view on the overall student experience if less than half of your students provide feedback. If this is a problem you’ve faced over and over again, here are some evaluation tips to help you get more responses to your student course evaluations.  

Meet your students where they are.

It’s no surprise that students are more likely to submit course evaluations from their phones. Skip the paper and pen and give your students mobile-friendly course evaluations to see your submission rates skyrocket. But be sure to use form software that makes all of your forms mobile-optimized without any extra steps, coding, or design work.

long form tips

Pro Tip: The recommended size for buttons on mobile forms is 44px by 44px. Here are other tips on how to optimize your forms for mobile.

Only ask the most important questions.

Long surveys kill your conversion rate. Nearly 15% of mobile users will abandon your survey if it takes them more than 10 minutes to complete. When creating your course evaluation, you must keep it short and to the point.

Review your evaluation questions, and delete any that are redundant, confusing, or not providing adequate data. Using a conversion tool can help you gather data on user behavior to pinpoint problem areas, refine your questions, and boost conversions.

Make your surveys visually appealing.

This evaluation tip may not seem like it would make a big difference on gathering more submissions, but you’d be amazed the impact visuals can have on form submissions. When creating your student course evaluations, here are some design elements to keep in mind:

  • Use your school’s branding and imagery
  • Create contrast using complementary colors
  • Insert rating fields
  • Make buttons stand out with bold colors
  • Use images where it makes sense

When your course evaluations look more eye catching, students are more likely to stay engaged and get all the way through the evaluation. Check out these design tips to ensure more students hit the submit button.

Use language your students will understand.

One of the leading reasons people abandon surveys is due to confusion. You must create questions that are clear, concise, and easily understood. The easier the questions are to read and understand, the more likely your students will stay engaged and invested in filling out the evaluation.

Pay close attention to language. If there’s even a slight inkling that a term might be confusing, misunderstood, or unknown, don’t use it. Avoid using jargon, acronyms, buzzwords, and slang. If you want to use acronyms to save space, always spell out the acronym when it is initially referenced.

Related Article: How to write survey questions people will actually answer.

Your student evaluations will start getting many more submissions when you start using some of the evaluation tips above. Making your evaluations short, straightforward, and mobile-friendly is a recipe for submission success and will give you lots of student feedback by the end of this semester.

Simplify processes across your university or college with Formstack. From course evaluations to scholarship applications, Formstack is your solution for capturing data that runs your school.


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Lindsay McGuire
Lindsay is the Content Marketing Manager at Formstack, splitting her time between creating blog content, writing reports, and hosting Formstack's Practically Genius podcast. She's a proud graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism (MIZ!) and loves connecting with others on LinkedIn.
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