Electronic Course Critiques

Gordon Stubley, Katie Arnold, Megan Town - Associate Dean Teaching, Course Critiques Directors
Posted on: July 2, 2016

Last fall, Waterloo Engineering ran a small‐scale trial of a campus‐built online course evaluation platform called Evaluate (https://evaluate.uwaterloo.ca). Those of you who were a part of courses included in the fall trial helped us—a lot!—by participating at the high levels we’re used to in Engineering. So thank you! Your strong participation in the trial meant that the Faculty was able to take the next step, and electronic delivery became the default last term. Moving forward, students will still be given class time to complete Course Critiques during the evaluation period—July 4 to 15—but they’re completed online (on your phones, tablets or laptops – in class) instead of with paper & pencil.

Why the move to electronic delivery? Teaching has significantly changed since the paper questionnaire was introduced over 20 years ago. At that time, single‐instructor, multi‐section lecture‐based courses were the norm. Engineering’s programs now include labs, projects, seminars, team‐taught and other types of courses, many of which cannot be adequately evaluated with the questions found on the existing paper questionnaire. And the paper questionnaire is not readily customizable to suit these different courses. Moving to electronic delivery is the first step toward a new comprehensive evaluation system that will provide instructors of these varied course components with meaningful student feedback. We anticipate the introduction of a new set of core questions that are applicable to all course experiences plus additional question sets that are specific to different teaching modes. This will provide instructors of all types with meaningful student feedback.

This term, you’ll find that most of your courses will be evaluated electronically; there are a few special cases (about 4% of all classes) where paper questionnaires are still necessary. We hope that you embrace electronic course evaluations so that we can continue to move forward toward more effective evaluations for all types of classes.