Instructors Getting Started

About the Service

Berkeley's Educational Technology Services offers a centralized service for online evaluation of courses. If your department has opted to use this service, they are in charge of requesting online evaluations for any sections in their department.

For instructors receiving online evaluations, you will be invited to add personalized questions shortly before your evaluation opens to students. Evaluations are typically open to students for the three weeks prior to final exams. Shorter courses, or courses taught in modules may be evaluated at different times at the request of the department.

Students will receive email invitations, and automated reminders, to complete their evaluations.

Reports based on this feedback will be distributed to instructors two weeks after the e-grade deadline.

Instructor Frequently Asked Questions

How is teaching evaluated currently?

Academic Policy requires the formal assessment of teaching through end-of-term course evaluations. Mid-term evaluations, though not required by campus policy, are administered by many faculty and GSIs across campus. Some departments and programs expect their faculty and GSIs to conduct mid-term evaluations as well.

Will students get to see the data?

The decision to publish any data from course evaluations will be made at the department level.

What happens if my response rate goes down?

Our system administrators attempt to notify students at frequent intervals during the evaluation process to complete their evaluations so that we can prevent a drop in response rate. We also encourage faculty to urge students to complete the evaluations and to educate them on the value of their input. Instructors also have the option to ask students to complete them in class provided that all students have access to a mobile device.

The Center for Teaching and Learning has compiled additional recommendations for admininistering evaluations.

Who gets to fill out the evaluation and why?

Registered students are given the opportunity at the end of each term to complete course evaluations for the courses in which they are officially enrolled.

Students who only show up for my tests could fill out the survey. How can I address this problem?

If this is a concern, we encourage instructors to add a custom question to their questionnaire to discover why students attended class irregularly.

How are evaluations created?

Developed over time with input from faculty, customizable question templates are made available to participating departments. Instructors are then able to add their own custom rating and open-ended questions if they wish but cannot modify department pre-selected questions.

Why should I participate in the online evaluation service?

The campus requires instructors to participate in the course evaluation process each term. If your department opts to utilize our online Course Evaluation service, you will get faster results and more timely feedback on your teaching. The online Course Evaluation service will also save significant staff time, that can instead be utilized to support departmental work in other important ways.

Are other universities evaluating courses online?

Many of our peer institutions such as Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and Michigan have implemented campus-wide online evaluation systems.

Have these schools reported benefits from collecting student ratings online?

Our peer institutions have reported vast improvements in the amount and quality of the data they can collect on teaching with an online system. They also cite a reduction in staff time required to process evaluation results.

Are course evaluations required for all courses on campus?

Academic policy requires the evaluation of all courses.

Why is Berkeley implementing a campus-wide online course evaluation system?

Berkeley is implementing a campus-wide online system for several reasons:

  1. Enable rapid access to useful information to help faculty improve their courses and their teaching effectiveness

  2. Encourage and support meaningful student feedback to improve teaching and learning

  3. Improve the quality and integrity of data that the campus uses to understand and recognize teaching contributions

  4. Utilize 21st-century tools for staff to perform their jobs efficiently and free up time for direct service to students and faculty

How are course evaluation results currently used on campus?

Course evaluation results are used by instructors to assess their teaching effectiveness and make improvements to their course in subsequent semesters. They are also used by department chairs who are responsible for summarizing teaching performance for campus committees (e.g., the Budget Committee, the Committee on Teaching). In addition, some departments post summary results for public consumption, but that practice is not uniform across campus. Evaluations of GSIs, along with other forms of evidence, are used by most departments in selecting Outstanding GSI Award recipients each year. Teaching evaluations also assist graduate students who need to document their effectiveness as an instructor in applying for faculty positions.

What types of questions will be asked?

Both qualitative and quantitative questions are included in the standard, editable forms. Instructors will be able to add more of either type through the customization process.

Do I have to move online?

Currently, use of the system is determined at the department level.

Who decided what we need from an online system?

The office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost convened a Steering Committee, chaired by the Vice Provost for Teaching, Learning, Academic Planning and Facilities, to review the requirements definition for the new online Course Evaluation system, as well as the broader challenges with system adoption and implementation. The Steering Committee included representation from the Academic Senate, administration, Graduate Assembly, and the ASUC.

Will sections taught by GSIs be evaluated online?

Yes, all sections taught by GSIs will be evaluated.

How is this system different from publicly available sites like Rate My Prof?

Publicly available sites cannot guarantee the integrity of their data, and therefore, are not reliable sources of information. The campus' system will require authentication and confidentiality to ensure both integrity of the data and candor of the responses.

Who is deciding the content of the evaluation questionnaires?

Every evaluation questionnaire contains the two campus-wide questions required under Academic Senate policy. Additional questions relating to the course and instructor, developed in consultation with faculty focus groups and with the Academic Senate’s Committee on Teaching, are also provided for use through department customization, but not required. These questions will give faculty helpful feedback to improve teaching, as well as provide the Budget Committee with information that can both be easily compared across departments and is aligned with the 1987 Policy for the Evaluation of Teaching in asking students to comment on appropriate aspects of teaching. Finally, instructors and department staff will have the option to add their own custom questions to the questionnaires.

Why do we evaluate courses at Berkeley?

The goal in requiring teaching evaluations is to assess the quality of teaching done by faculty and GSIs on the campus and to use the feedback to improve teaching and learning on the campus. Teaching evaluations are also used in reviewing faculty for tenure and promotion and in making decisions about teaching awards on the campus.