Course evaluations are a part of the process by which the University of Maryland seeks to improve teaching and learning. In 2005, the University Senate approved the implementation of a standard, online, University-wide course evaluation instrument. Across the University, course evaluations are administered through a web-based system dubbed CourseEvalUM, which leverages a commercial product called Blue by eXplorance. Each course evaluation contains a set of universal questions, and some are supplemented by questions from specific colleges and departments.
At the request of students, the University Senate established a Task Force on Course and Teaching Evaluation to investigate the implementation of a campus-wide standard course evaluation that would be administered on-line. The purpose of such a system would be to allow students to view selected evaluation results in order to make more informed course selection decisions. The Task Force submitted its final report and recommendations to the Senate in April, 2005.
In February, 2006, the Provost charged the Student Course Evaluation Implementation Committee to review the recommendations from the Senate's Task Force on Course and Teaching Evaluation, and to devise an implementation and reporting plan for a campus-wide system. In April, 2006, this committee's recommendations were presented to the Senate. The Office of Information Technology, with direction from the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment (IRPA), began the development of this system. IRPA also established the University Course Evaluation Advisory Committee, an ongoing committee with representatives from the colleges (appointed by the Deans) and the Implementation Committee.
In the Fall of 2006, UM piloted the items that had been proposed through the various task forces and committees, and in the Summer 2007 we piloted the technology that had been developed to meet the specifications necessary to meet our needs (see Testing the Instrument).
In the Fall of 2007, UM ran a large-scale pilot of the new system, for all regular UM courses offered to undergraduates and graduate students. After a glitch on the initial start date, the system opened on November 29, and students had until midnight on December 12 (the study day) to complete their evaluations. IRPA partnered with the Student Government Association and the Graduate Student Government to get the word out about the importance of course evaluations. Overall, 63% of the available evaluations (all students in all evaluated courses) were completed, with 35% of all courses receiving a 70% or higher response rate.
In Spring 2008, the results of the Fall 2007 evaluations were posted on-line at ARES under Faculty Services for faculty and administrators and at Testudo under CourseEvalUM Reporting for students. Instructors may access all results available from their own courses. Select administrators have been granted access (e.g. by their deans) to the "Administrator" items (see Item Use). Students have access to results for courses that have 70% response rates and higher, but only if they leave no "Pending" courses in their Evaluation Dashboard in the course evaluation process the previous term. New students can see results their first semester.
Spring 2008, the project continued in its development. The capacity of having more than one instructor evaluated per course was implemented for the first time and several colleges (Business, Behavioral and Social Sciences, and Engineering) piloted the ability to add college-specific items to the University-wide items already in place; Education added college-specific items in Summer 2008. Now all colleges have been given the opportunity to add college-specific items. The School of Public Policy, College of Information Studies, and the College of Chemical & Life Sciences have also added items.
All information submitted to the Evaluation System is confidential. Instructors and academic administrators can only view summarized evaluation results after final grades have been submitted. Instructors and academic administrators cannot identify which submissions belong to which students. Students are required to login to the system for the sole purpose of providing students access to the appropriate evaluations for their associated courses. Instructors and academic administrators can only view general statistics and comments not linked to student names as allowed by the University. Please send privacy concerns to CourseEvalUM@umd.edu. Should threats to persons or property be made by a student within the course evaluation system, action will be taken to identify the individual and investigate the threat.
A standardized set of evaluation results provides the University with useful information on teaching and student learning across the campus. Utilizing a universal set of course evaluation questions allows both students and academic administrators to make more meaningful and consistent comparisons among courses and their instructors. Students in past years requested the opportunity to review evaluation results to aid them in choosing courses each term, so the evaluation and reporting system was designed with that in mind. Administrators use student responses to help them evaluate and improve faculty performance. Because faculty performance review is a personnel function, the evaluation feedback used in those decisions is confidential by Maryland law. For this reason, students and administrators see responses to different sets of items from the evaluation. The "student view" item responses are not required as part of the performance review process since they are in some sense public; likewise, students cannot be provided the responses to items used by administrators for such personnel functions. As the person being evaluated, however, the faculty member or instructor sees a summary of responses to all items asked of students in their course evaluations.
Student Access to Results
While we work to build student reports in our new system, registered students are able to view results from course evaluations completed using our previous online system. Students only see results for the student items, and then only if 70% or more of the students enrolled in that course section participated in the evaluation. Student access to course evaluation results is via the CourseEvalUM website under View Past Results (Fall 2007 - Spring 2014).
Instructor and Administrator Access to Results
Instructors are able to view results from all items for their own course(s) only. Additionally, faculty and academic administrators involved in the tenure and promotion process, and other administrators addressing the needs of their academic department, can receive limited access rights to results with appropriate permission (e.g. from the dean's designee). These approved individuals are allowed to log into the password-protected system and view the appropriate results as determined by the University. No unauthorized faculty or administrators can view evaluation results. Faculty and administrator access to results is via the CourseEvalUM website under View Past Results.