Frequently Asked Questions
How do students access their course evaluations?
An email is sent to the student with a “Complete Survey” link for each course they are registered for. Once they click on a link, it brings them to the individual course evaluation. Because the evaluation is easily accessible through email, a student can complete the evaluation from their home computer, tablet or smart phone.
Are the emails/evaluations going to the students Bergen.edu e-mail or to their personal e-mail addresses?
Email reminders sent from SmartEvals with the link to the evaluation(s), are sent to a student’s Bergen email address.
How many email reminders will students receive over the evaluation period?
SmartEvals reminder emails are sent on a predetermined schedule. Students will receive email reminders every other day until the last week of the semester, then the frequency increases to daily. The subject lines and contents vary, with each using different language to encourage completion. The title that will appear in the From line is Bergen Course Evaluations.
How long does the evaluation period last?
The evaluation period is approximately three weeks. The evaluation goes live within a few days after the last official day by which students may drop a class and closes prior to the date by which the faculty is required to submit final grades to the registrar.
What instructions do I provide students at the start of the evaluation period?
Once you receive the email alert that your evaluations are available, we recommend that you set aside five minutes at the beginning of class to speak with students about the evaluation process. Mentioning the following items will greatly increase your student participation.
Inform students that the evaluation period has begun.
- Alert students to their Bergen email account and an email that contains a link to complete the survey(s). The heading of the first of several email alerts reads, “IMPORTANT! Please evaluate your BCC courses now!”
- Remind your students that the evaluations can be completed from their home computer, tablet or smartphone.
- Provide students with specific examples of how you used feedback from past course evaluations. For example, you may say, “Last semester the evaluations said I should make better use of the course website and that is why this year I have been posting notes online.”
- Tell students that their responses are completely anonymous and that professors will see results only after student grades are submitted.
Communicating this information at the start of the evaluation period will set the stage for a strong response rate in your class and for BCC as a whole.
How is faculty alerted to the open and close of the evaluation period?
Like our students, the faculty receives email reminders that are sent to their Bergen email. In fact, the emails to students and faculty are sent simultaneously. The email subject line and content varies, however the first will serve as an alert that the evaluations are available to students and come with complete instructions on how to promote the on-line evaluations. Subsequent email reminders provide tips on how to encourage completion of the evaluations and others with progress reports and student completion rates. Also like the student emails, the From line of the faculty emails will read, Bergen Course Evaluations. In short, look to your Bergen email for information about the open and close of the evaluation period.
How do I monitor progress of students completing the evaluations, other than from the email that is sent to me?
Faculty may go to the www.smartevals.com/bergen website and log-in using their Bergen user name and password. Once in, go to the top navigation and click on, “EvalCenter.”
What about students who do not read their Bergen email. Is there another way in which students can access their evaluations?
Email is the primary way students can access their evaluations. As another option SmartEvals allows you, the instructor, to create QR codes which you can display to the class on your overhead projector. Your students can use their mobile device or smart phone to scan the code using a free QR reader app to complete the survey during the class session.
What suggestions do you have for increasing response rates?
Here are a few to consider:
- Announce the start of the evaluation period and provide students with instructions on how to access and complete the survey.
- Remind students during subsequent class meetings.
- Add it as an assignment to your syllabus. If you feel comfortable, provide an incentive.
- Schedule a class in a computer lab so that class time can be used to complete the survey.
- Use QR codes. See response to prior question.
Why is it important to take steps to increase response rates of my evaluations?
With the previous paper and pencil method of course evaluations, students were a captive audience. As long as class attendance was good on the day the evaluation was distributed, faculty could ensure high completion rates. With the new process, students have more freedom and as such, completion rates may not be as high and faculty may not receive the feedback they want or need. Because of this, SmartEvals provides us with some good tips on how to increase response rates, and we pass these tips along to the faculty through emails and documents like this. The QR code option is one example.
Some colleges and universities make evaluations mandatory. Why doesn’t Bergen?
Often times, those colleges or universities that make it mandatory must create some penalty for not completing the survey (i.e., students are prohibited from obtaining their grades or from registering for the next semester). Rather than making the process a pejorative one, we prefer to encourage a culture of cooperation whereby students understand that it their duty and responsibility to complete the course evaluations.
What about students who stop attending classes? Will they have access to the on-line evaluations?
Students who dropped on or before the last official date of add/drop are not surveyed. We survey only those students on the rosters after final add/drop. We are unable to do anything about students who choose not to complete their course or fail to officially drop. We suspect that a student who did not complete a course, nor have the interest to officially drop, would 1) be checking their Bergen email or 2) be interested in completing a survey. However, if a professor sees an aberration in their results that would contradict this contention, we would appreciate being informed.
Are these evaluations in addition to the in-class, ETS/SIR II evaluations, or in lieu of the hard copy evaluations?
The new online evaluation system replaces the previous ETS/SIR II evaluation paper and pencil process. If a faculty member has their own survey, we strongly discourage its use as it may discourage students from completing the SmartEvals evaluation, and subsequently impact individual course rates, and the overall BCC response rate.
How do I get my results?
After the date by which faculty must submit grades, and prior to the start of the subsequent semester, the faculty is sent an email with a PDF attachment. The PDF attachment contains the evaluation results.
How was SmartEvals selected?
During the 2012/2013 academic year, a committee composed of representatives from faculty, administration, IT, and Institutional Research evaluated submissions from vendors based on standards established by a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) developed by the committee. SmartEvals was selected based on its reputation for providing excellent service, features, and cost-effectiveness.
How were the questions selected?
These are normed questions that came from SmartEvals. The questions selected are commonly asked questions, most of which were also used in the ETS SIRS II evaluation system that the College used previously. The new survey, however, uses fewer questions (24) because a shorter survey ensures higher completion rates.
Who should be contacted if I have a question about the new evaluation system?
You may email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns. Your feedback is not only welcome but encouraged. So please tell us about your experience.