Have you filled your student evaluations yet?

The response rate has fallen as much as 44% since the surveys when from physical to electronic

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Have you filled your student evaluations yet?

ECC sends out thousands of individual reminders to students to fill out their class surveys.

ECC sends out thousands of individual reminders to students to fill out their class surveys.

Luz Silva

ECC sends out thousands of individual reminders to students to fill out their class surveys.

Luz Silva

Luz Silva

ECC sends out thousands of individual reminders to students to fill out their class surveys.

Valeria Mancera-Saavedra, Staff writer

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The last weeks of the semester are full of essays, projects, exams and also student evaluations. Students’ inboxes are filled with emails reminding them to complete these evaluations, but do they actually do them?

According to Marcy Thompson, assistant vice president of teaching, learning and student development, last semester, only 31% of all students at Elgin Community College completed their evaluations, which was not too different from the 39% that responded in the fall of 2017.

Thompson said that the purpose of these evaluations is to obtain good feedback from the students, offering them the opportunity to communicate any concerns or opinions they may have, and to help instructors identify areas of strength and areas that need to be developed.

“I don’t know exactly why students might not be filling the evaluations,” Thompson said. “They don’t realize the importance of it. It’s like people who don’t vote.”

Actually, there may be several different reasons why the percentage has decreased so dramatically.

When the format of the evaluations was a physical paper copy, the responses reached up to 75%, according to Philip Garber, executive director of planning and institutional effectiveness, but even so, this had its disadvantages.

“With the previous manual process, whoever was in the class that day filled out an evaluation,” Thompson said. “If you missed class, you didn’t get to fill it [out].”

This was one of the main factors that led to the decision to change the surveys to an electronic format since its accessibility would be even greater.

According to Thompson, the idea was that students could have access to their evaluations in a place and time that was more convenient for them.

“However, students don’t always check their emails,” Thompson said.

Jennifer Palomar, who is currently in her first semester at ECC, said she did not complete the evaluations because she did not know it was something that had to be done. Apparently, this was not mentioned during her student orientation or by her professors during class.

“I didn’t know about it,” Palomar said. “Besides, I never check my emails.”

On the other hand, Colin Grennan, a biology adjunct faculty member, believes that, potentially, there are positive aspects of this change besides the reduced use of paper and money that was invested in the physical evaluations.

“Students hypothetically have more time to think critically about and complete the surveys, as well as have more privacy in which to do so,” Grennan said.

Grennan also states that this could potentially lead to more completed surveys, and survey answers that more accurately reflect how students truly feel about a course. Another advantage is that professors no longer have to dedicate class time to complete the surveys, which leaves more time for instruction and student learning.

Some students who take the time to fill out the surveys also believe that it is a practical way to do it.

Ivory Scalise, a student at ECC, completes the evaluations every semester and has had no problem doing so. She says that she likes to fill them out so instructors can see the results and might change their lectures or teaching styles.

When Scalise was asked whether or not she was afraid that her former professors would see the negative comments that she might have included in her evaluations, she said:

“No, and it is not something that would keep me from filling it out.”

Of course, there is no way for instructors to see the identity of the students who have completed the evaluations, according to Charron Banaszak, office coordinator of teaching, learning and student development.

The results are released the day after the class ends, and professors get to see them that day as well. Students names are never attached to their responses.

“Instructors won’t ever see the results knowing that it’s you,” Banaszak said. “Everything is all confidential.”

Student evaluations are important both for the faculty of the institution and for students to have a better quality of learning.

“The college uses evaluations to make improvements to courses and the overall quality of education we offer,” Garber said.