Testing & Evaluation Services (T&E) has developed a standardized course evaluation form for use in UW classes.

As you probably know, T&E is charged with providing course evaluation services to campus, including help with forms development, administration of computer-based evaluations, data capture, processing, and reporting of results.  In this capacity, we have observed much overlap with respect to the types of questions asked by departments, yet the specific verbiage and measurement scales differ widely.  Forms also vary considerably with respect to their clarity and conformity to best practices in scale development.  As a result of these differences, course evaluation data may be less useful than one may suspect.  Furthermore, because every department requires customized processing for their evaluation form, the burden is on departmental representatives to communicate with T&E exactly how the forms should be processed and scored, as well as to verify that the score reports they receive are accurate every time. 

This standardized evaluation form promotes best measurement practices by prioritizing content, clarity of expression, and consistency of scale.  The standardized evaluation also offers the advantage of streamlined processing, thereby increasing the chances of evaluations being scored correctly the first time. The evaluation form, which will be available for both paper-based and online administration, will include approximately 30 questions which apply to almost every class.  The questions are organized around four central themes: (1) Course content, grading, and climate, (2) Instructor, (3), UW Essential Learning Outcomes, and (4) Overall.  In addition, the form will afford the opportunity of some customization (i.e., departments can supply up to five of their own questions that utilize the given scale), as might be particularly helpful to ask questions about a teaching assistant, course-specific learning outcomes, a new or special feature of the course, etc.  Evaluation summary reports will include not only item-level and composite averages, but also subscore averages for each of the central themes.  Department-supplied questions can either be added to the existing themes or combined to form an additional theme. 

The advantages of a standardized course evaluation form are numerous.  Several of these advantages are listed below:

  • Clear, concise questions
  • Utilization of a common measurement scale to facilitate between-item and between-subscore comparisons
  • Richer score reports with meaningful subscores and summaries based on reasons students took class.
  • Information on key initiatives not typically captured by evaluations, such as alignment with the campus Essential Learning Outcomes
  • More professional, polished look
  • Streamlined processing to ensure easy and accurate scoring
  • Common wording, scaling, and positioning of items enables comparisons across years
  • Opportunity to customize form by developing additional questions or selecting ones from a list of supplemental questions developed by T&E


If your department is interested in the standardized evaluation form during the Spring, 2013 semester, please contact Jim Wollack, Director, T&E (jwollack@wisc.edu). 



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