Based on research done at Brigham Young University and the University of Michigan, two areas of concern are noted.


1. One is the possibility of lower response rates when the course evaluations are done outside of class time. Response rates for online questionnaires averaged around 60%; response rates to paper questionnaires averaged around 80%. At TCU, our current response rates for the paper/pencil forms is at about 75%. Other institutions have used several methods to ensure a decent response rate: incentives, information to students about their role in the evaluation process, etc.


2. A second area of concern noted when other institutions implemented online evaluations is that evaluations may be less favorable. In two analyses at Northwestern University, online ratings were 0.25 points (on a 6-point scale) lower than in-class ratings. A University of Michigan study found that online ratings were 0.15 less favorable than in-class ratings. It should be noted, however, that when everyone uses the same method of data collection, this bias disappears. Ratings may fall slightly with a switch to online data collection, but they should fall equally for all. Relative standings should not change.



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