End-of-Course Survey 101

March 16, 2022 Watermark Insights

As most institutional accreditation bodies require end-of-course assessments, you'll need to implement them in your higher education institution. Learn more about these evaluations, from their benefits to templates and how to implement them, below.

What Is an End-of-Course Survey?

After completing a college course, a professor may want to know how effective the course was at meeting learning objectives. Instructional staff administer end-of-course survey questionnaires to gauge their ability as an instructor, the relevance of course materials, and the student experience. These evaluations are confidential and anonymous to prevent bias in the grading process. Institutions of higher education use course exit survey questions for students to improve their educational experience.

Benefits of End-of-Course Surveys

When conducting an end-of-course survey, instructors should communicate to students the importance of their feedback. Explaining how an end-of-course survey helps both students and faculty may help students gain a deeper appreciation for evaluations, potentially contributing to higher response rates and more thorough answers. Ensure your students that the survey's goal is to serve them and their peers better.

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Conducting end-of-course surveys provides institutions of higher education and students with multiple benefits, including:

  • Receive meaningful student feedback: While some people may avoid course surveys because they fear negative feedback, it's helpful for professors to adapt their courses to best meet their students' needs. Understanding how well a course fulfills learning outcomes provides insights into how a professor should modify a class. Students may share that an instructor presented too many concepts at one time. The professor can then take that student feedback and better divide the course content.
  • Evaluate professor instruction: Evaluations can provide critical insight into a professor's effectiveness. The best professors hold high standards for their students, encourage regular class attendance, are available outside of class, adapt instructional materials based on student needs, and collaborate with others. Instructors can tailor college course survey questions to target these areas, using student responses to improve instruction. A professor who receives many student responses claiming the instructions and course objectives were unclear may want to improve their assignments and syllabus.
  • Foster a positive culture of improvement: Demonstrate to your students that you're committed to their intellectual advancement. If a particular part of a class, such as reading materials, lectures, or group discussion, failed to meet educational outcomes, a higher education institution could demonstrate how they value students by reflecting their dedication to always improving.
  • Empower your student population: In providing course-end surveys, you encourage students to take part in their education. An empowered student body will feel more involved, which can create a stronger sense of community or school pride at your institution.
  • Assess specific behaviors: Rather than simply looking at how well students do in a course from their grades, end-of-course surveys give administrators a deeper look into an instructor's specific qualities. Department heads can narrow down areas for improvement if they know how students feel about specific areas of a course or a professor's teaching style.

Sample End-of-Course Survey Questions

Regardless of the course subject, many classes feature similar end-of-course survey questions. A course-end survey template would include questions about:

  • Instructor performance
  • The course material and structure
  • Student engagement and outcome goals
  • Open-ended questions

Most of the questionnaire sections ask students to rate the course on a scale, such as assigning course elements a number from one to five or one to 10. The open-ended section allows students to freely write any other comments about a course.

Below are five different categories you should cover in an end-of-course survey questionnaire.

1. Instructor

A course instructor can significantly impact a student's experience. An instructor's teaching methods are a significant indicator of student success. Therefore, a portion of a college end-of-course survey should cover how the instructor helped the students achieve the course objectives.

Questions an instructor can include about their teaching abilities may look like:

  • Was the instructor prepared for class, small group, and individual meetings?
  • Was the professor organized? Did they use class time efficiently?
  • Did the instructor effectively communicate with students?
  • Did the instructor provide adequate and timely feedback?
  • Could students easily contact and access the professor outside of class?
  • Was the instructor respectful to students?

2. Materials

Questions you can ask to determine whether course materials successfully fulfill learning outcomes include:

  • Did all assignments and course materials, including lectures, readings, and homework, complement one another?
  • Did the course content increase student knowledge of the subject matter?
  • Were the course requirements appropriate for its level?
  • Did the course follow the provided syllabus?
  • Did the instructor clearly define grading policies?
  • Were students fairly assessed?

hand holding pen with notepad next to laptop

3. Engagement and Outcomes

A college end-of-course survey should also attempt to directly measure the student experience, including student engagement and how the course satisfied learning outcomes.

These questions can help instructors and administrators better understand a course's ability to engage students and further knowledge:

  • Do students feel like the course is a safe, welcoming place to express their ideas?
  • Do students regularly attend class?
  • How well are students typically prepared for class?
  • How much have students' understanding of the main course concepts grown?
  • How confident are students in executing a major-related skill?
  • Does this course fulfill student expectations of college faculty?

4. Questions About TAs

If you have any teaching assistants (TAs) in your class, you should also have students answer questions concerning their performance:

  • Was TA feedback useful?
  • Were TAs available to help students understand course materials and assignment feedback?
  • Did the TA promptly arrive at class?
  • Were students comfortable asking TAs questions?
  • Was the TA well prepared for class, small group, and individual meetings?
  • When confronted with unexpected questions or changes to the learning environment, how flexible was the TA?

5. Open-Ended Questions

In addition to including questions that ask students to rate a course on a numerical scale, instructors can also ask students open-ended questions to get a well-rounded view of their class's effectiveness:

  • How did the instructor encourage class discussion?
  • What are any recommendations for course improvements?
  • Are there any obstacles you encountered during the class that hindered achieving learning objectives?
  • What are the strengths of the course?
  • How did this course enrich your understanding of the subject matter?
  • What are three specific ways the course materials and instructor supported student learning?

teacher helping students

How to Use End-of-Course Survey Questions

To get the most out of your end-of-course questionnaires, consider the following tips:

Consider Your Goals

Before you even craft your college end-of-course survey questions, consider your educational goals. The type of data you choose to collect should depend on how you intend to use student responses. For example, a professor might want to use course evaluations to strengthen their teaching. Students' professor effectiveness rankings can provide insight into how an instructor can better fulfill the course goals. Administrators can use end-of-course surveys to evaluate professors and identify professional development opportunities.

With your goals in mind, you'll know what questions to include in a course-end survey and which should be open-ended or use numerical rating scales.

Remember Your Learning Objectives

Instructional faculty can use student surveys to improve course content by better aligning instructional materials with educational outcomes, as they can better gauge how successful a course is. Questions you may want to consider about how well the course content meets learning objectives include:

  • Is my learning outcome actionable? Have I given students a clear task to complete?
  • Will this course objective directly help students in real life after they graduate?
  • Do both students and instructional staff have enough time and resources to achieve a learning objective?
  • Is the educational outcome difficult enough for the subject matter and student's level of understanding?
  • Can students clearly understand what professors expect of them and the objective of the assignment?

Shape the Next Semester

College end-of-course surveys benefit both faculty and students to shape the following semester. While professors use feedback to improve their classes, students can use them to self-reflect and determine which classes to take the following semester. If students have a positive experience in a class, they may be more likely to take a course next semester in the same department. Further, administration at a higher education institution may want to allot a class with positive reviews more sections during the next semester.

Following are ways both professors and students can use course surveys to further the higher education experience in future semesters:

  • Professors: Feedback is crucial for professors to fulfill a course's learning objectives better. Instructors can use student feedback to determine how they helped their students grow. Asking students about how prepared a professor and any TAs were for class or lab sessions can help instructional staff better understand how they can help students in the future. An instructor's attitude and enthusiasm about the subject matter also encourage student engagement. Professors can use surveys to evaluate both these hard and soft skills.
  • Students: Course exit survey questions for students should also cover student engagement to ensure a class has gotten the maximum benefit from the course. Students can use end-of-course survey questions to evaluate whether they enjoyed a class or if a course adequately fulfilled their major requirements. Evaluations are an opportunity for students to reflect on their class performance and appreciation of the subject matter.

Inform Faculty Assessments

While instructors can use surveys to their benefit, department heads and administrators can, as well. Tenure and promotion committees can use survey feedback to inform decisions about an instructor's advancement. Department heads can use the questionnaire results in faculty assessments, whether in one-on-one reviews or when evaluating necessary department changes.

How to Optimize End-of-Course Surveys

To increase the student response rate, consider using online course evaluations. Online evaluations are more accessible to a range of students, as they can complete surveys outside of class time. They also help to reduce the cost of printing paper evaluation forms. Further, online course evaluations allow faculty and administrators to receive information faster and identify trends more efficiently.

Your institution of higher education can also streamline the end-of-course survey process with course evaluation and survey software. Modern technology can help deliver survey results to faculty, administration, and students faster, allowing higher education institutions to improve without complex manual data analysis. Software can implement with your existing learning management system (LMS) provider, including Canvas, D2L, Blackboard, and Moodle, linking to the student, instructional staff, and course. 

Students at institutions of higher education are busy. Therefore, you can maximize response rates by explaining the purpose of evaluation and using the fewest possible questions. When surveys are long, students are less likely to respond. You can also help save students time by including several standardized questions across departments. When students recognize questions, they may be more likely to respond quickly. You can include course-specific questions at the end of the survey.

Request a Demo With Watermark

Collecting and analyzing end-of-course survey data is crucial for higher education institutions to train instructional staff better and improve curriculum. Watermark Course Evaluations & Surveys lets students respond from your institution's LMS on any mobile or desktop device. Watermark's software can help free up department members' time by streamlining course evaluation analysis and increasing student survey response rates.

Other solutions from Watermark include:

  • Planning and Self-Study: Watermark saves information about each academic and non-academic department, mapping program and learning outcomes and how the curriculum addresses them. Further, instructors will be able to track how students are performing across different programs and years. Watermark also helps students prepare their self-study for accreditation.
  • Curriculum Strategy: Curriculum Strategy from Watermark helps ensure an institution's online course catalogs are up to date and reflect the current curriculum. It also allows higher education institutions to alter curriculum based on student feedback. 
  • Student Learning & Licensure: Our software allows instructors to more easily track student progress. With Watermark Student Learning & Licensure, educators can view and manage students' assignments, field placements, and internships in one place.
  • Faculty Success: A higher educational institution's faculty is instrumental in creating a positive student experience. Faculty Success provides a place for faculty to update their achievements and CVs. Our software can automatically update institutional web profiles with the latest faculty information, so your website is always current. Having all your faculty information in one location streamlines the review process.
  • Outcomes Assessment Projects: Outcomes Assessment Projects use rubrics to assess how students meet learning outcomes.
  • Aviso Enterprise: Aviso Enterprise is an AI-based software that helps higher education institutions keep students engaged and can improve graduation rates. Students can communicate with classmates, while instructors can track key metrics like attendance rates, schedule appointments, and create individualized academic plans for students.

Contact us or request a demo today to learn more about Watermark's solutions.

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