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New Feedback Tool to Expand Data

Starting this semester, Emerson College students are being asked to evaluate not just their professors, but the courses and themselves.

The new 15-question Course Feedback Form is the first update of the tool in 10 years, and is the result of a three-year process by a committee of faculty and staff members that included faculty feedback and student focus groups.

“Results are used by faculty to improve their courses and by academic leaders and faculty review committees to assess faculty renewal and promotion,” Chief Academic Officer Michaele Whelan said in a letter announcing the new tool to students and faculty.

The first two questions on the form ask students to evaluate themselves and their own engagement with the course using one of five responses, from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” A second section of five questions asks students to provide feedback on the instructor, followed by four questions on the course itself, including organization and assignments. All questions allow space for comment.

The last four questions are open-ended, and ask students what they found most beneficial about the course, how it could be improved, what they could have done themselves to have a better experience, and if it was an inclusive learning environment.

The Course Feedback Form became available to students in Boston and Los Angeles starting April 15. Students at Kasteel Well could fill out the form starting March 31, so that they could complete their evaluations before they return to the United States.

All students have until 11:59 pm on Saturday, May 7, to complete the forms, however, students who fill out the forms quickly will have access to their grades as early as Monday, May 2, according to the Office of Institutional Research, which advised the committee on the updates. Students who do not fill out the form will not be able to see their grades until May 8. 

In fall 2013, the Faculty Council appointed a subcommittee to update the tool, which had been in use since 2006 and was focused on instructor evaluation. The new form went through eight iterations over three years of studying other colleges’ tools and soliciting faculty and student feedback, as well as input from the Cultural Competency Committee, according to a February 2016 Subcommittee Report.

In addition to expanding the questions, the committee decided to call the new tool a “Feedback Form” as opposed to an “Evaluation Form,” the report said.

In the February 2016 report, the subcommittee recommends appointing a new subcommittee in academic year 2023-24 to revise the form for fall 2026.

Current subcommittee members are Amy Ansell, dean of the Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies (Institute); Karen English, affiliated faculty, Writing, Literature, and Publishing (WLP); Vinoth Jagaroo, associate professor, Communication Studies and Disorders (CSD); Robert Todd (fall 2015), associate professor/associate chair, Visual and Media Arts (VMA); and Amy Vashlishan Murray, assistant professor, Institute. Assisting with statistics and design were Michael Duggan, associate vice president of Institutional Research; Eiki Satake, associate professor, Institute; and Kelly Farquharson, assistant professor, CSD.

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