As we approach mid-November, while many of us are making preparations for the holiday season, students and teachers are gearing up for mid-terms and finals. If you are an academic institution or faculty member getting ready to wrap up the semester, distributing online course evaluations is an excellent way to monitor student satisfaction and prepare for next semester.

Below are a few tips for creating an effective course evaluation survey:

1. Be specific. If you want to know how a student felt about the instructor's teaching style, don't ask “Were you satisfied with the course?” A more strategically worded question might be be: “Were you satisfied with the instructor's style of teaching?”

2. Use conditions. Conditions allow you to tailor surveys to respondents by only displaying questions that are relevant to that respondent. For example, if a student indicates that the course material did not meet his expectations, provide a follow-up question asking the student to explain his reasons for dissatisfaction.

3 Make it anonymous. Students are more likely to provide honest answers if they know they are answering in confidence. Be sure to tell respondents at the beginning of the survey to eliminate any confusion on the matter.

4. Leave room for comments. There is no course evaluation data more useful than student feedback. If a student had a particularly good or bad experience in the course, she may wish to share it with you. Give her the opportunity by including one or more open response fields in your survey.

5. Grade your course. Some survey applications, including Checkbox Survey Software, allow you to assign numeric values to answer choices. These can then be added up at the end to provide an overall response score. This is a great way to assess a student's overall response.

6. Trigger email alerts. Let's say you are a department head creating a course evaluation survey and you want to be notified whenever a student indicates that they were dissatisfied with the course instructor. Or maybe you incorporated the scoring feature in tip 5 above and want to be alerted whenever a student submits a score lower than 50. You can tell the survey to automatically send you an email any time that specified condition is met.

Take our sample course evaluation survey >>