How Can Instructors Encourage Students to Complete Course Evaluations and Provide Informative Responses?

Instructors can influence response rates – perhaps more so than any other factor. When actively promoted and discussed with students, response rates are generally higher than those in courses with little to no Instructor attention paid to them. 

Tips for encouraging students to both complete course evaluations and provide constructive feedback: (adapted from Univ. of Oregon Office of the Registrar - Course Evaluations(link is external)(link is external))

  1. As was done with paper-based surveys, reserve some time in-class at the end of the semester for students to complete the online survey during class. At minimum, this should garner an equivalent response rate to what was received in the paper format. *Cue students to bring a device to class, so that they are able to complete the survey (e.g., smartphone, laptop).
    1. For students who complete the survey outside of class, it can be helpful to hold their metaphorical hand: Taking a few minutes of class time to show students how to find and use the Course Evaluations system may increase response rates. While there are instructions to finding and completing the course evaluations in the system emails they receive, do not assume all students can navigate this easily. A quick, visual tutorial in-class can make a difference.
    2. While this strategy is commonplace, many instructors have found the greatest impact when coupled with items 4 and/or 5 below. *NOTE: it is not currently possible to tie the release of grades with completion of evaluations.
  2. Monitor the response rate throughout the survey window, and immediately after the in-class alloted time for survey completion. Use the real-time response rate to further prompt students to complete their surveys, and provide additional encouragement via the tip immediately below.
  3. Inform students about the purpose of evaluations
    1. Explain how the University uses their feedback in merit and promotion.
    2. Let students know that you will use their feedback to make changes in the course. *Utilize the option to add personalized questions to your online evaluation form for any given course (responses to these personalized questions do not get reported, and are available to the instructor only).
    3. Give students some examples of useful feedback you have received in the past, and how the course/pedagogy has benefited in response. 
  4. Make it an assignment on your syllabus: Listing the Course Evaluation in the same category as the other course assignments, even if no points are at stake, may help raise response rates. 
  5. Incentives for students: In order to encourage a broad and representative response, instructors may choose to offer students incentives for completing course evaluations. Examples of incentives may include:
    1. Offering an incentive of extra points to all students if a set response rate is achieved
    2. Using the honor system and giving an incentive to students who affirm that they have completed the evaluation
    3. If needed for the incentive, faculty may choose to request a screenshot from students showing that the evaluation has been completed. Upon completing an evaluation, students are shown a list of all their evaluations, along with the status for each. This may be used as evidence that a particular student has completed an evaluation.
    4. *All possible steps to maintain anonymity of completed evaluations should be taken, particularly in courses with lower enrollments, and given that a screenshot will provide potentially identifiable information in terms of the other classes in which the student is enrolled.
    5. *Campus is exploring an LMS integration that would allow instructors using the bCourses gradebook to automatically provide credit to students who complete the evaluation in a manner that requires minimal labor from the instructor, and maximizes student privacy.

The tips provided on this page have been generated by the Center for Teaching and Learning, and Educational Technology Services, in consultation with the Academic Senate's Committee on Teaching (last updated, spring 2018). 

What do you do as a UC Berkeley instructor to encourage students to complete end of term course evaluations? We’d like to hear and share those examples on this page! Email teaching@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail)with the subject line “Course Evaluations” and your example.