Administration & Procedures
The course evaluation procedure described respects the Senate policy on end-of-term course evaluations approved on 23 April 2014.
On this page:
- Each academic unit (department, School or Faculty if there are no departments) will have at least one individual designated as the Mercury Departmental Liaison. The liaison(s) will coordinate the unit’s course evaluations and will be the contact for all communications with the mercury [dot] info [at] mcgill [dot] ca (TLS Mercury system administrator). In addition, each unit must have a designated backup person. The academic unit head should send the name(s) and contact information for the Mercury liaison(s) and backups to the mercury [dot] info [at] mcgill [dot] ca (TLS Mercury system administrator). NOTE: Mercury Departmental Liaison(s) and backups will have access to confidential course evaluation results, and may not use this information in an unauthorized manner.
Responsibility of Mercury Liaison(s):
- identify the courses to be evaluated
- create the online course evaluations
- relay information provided by the TLS Mercury system administrator to instructors
- remind instructors when evaluations are available to students and monitor response rates
- convey updated information, concerns/issues to the TLS Mercury system administrator
- Each Faculty will determine whether a Faculty-wide questionnaire will be used, for the different course types, e.g., lectures and labs. If yes, the Dean or delegate should submit the default questionnaires with a message to that effect. If an individual academic unit creates its own questionnaire(s), then the Mercury Liaison should send the defaults to the mercury [dot] info [at] mcgill [dot] ca (TLS Mercury system administrator) after receiving any required Faculty approvals. Once approved, the default questionnaire cannot be edited by the Mercury Liaison or the instructor. For information on how to design questionnaires, please refer to the course evaluation questionnaire/sample templates site or consult with a member of tls [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Teaching and Learning Services). If in subsequent years, the unit (department, School or Faculty) wishes to revise the default questionnaire, the Mercury Liaison should contact the TLS Mercury system administrator. Note that any changes must be approved by the academic unit head and Faculty administrators, as required.
- Each course evaluation questionnaire must include the four core questions as stated in the Policy, and may include up to 21 additional questions. The course evaluation questionnaire for each course should not exceed 25 questions. It is suggested that each academic unit select from the recommended pool of questions when designing their course evaluations. Alternatively, each academic unit may choose to develop up to 21 questions of their own. (See Policy)
- Default course evaluation questionnaires can be created in more than one language if the academic unit provides a translated version(s) to the mercury [dot] info [at] mcgill [dot] ca (TLS Mercury system administrator). Students would then be able to select the language of the course evaluation questionnaire.
- The academic unit can allow individual instructors to customize their course evaluations by adding questions. A maximum of three (3) questions is allowed as long as the total does not exceed 25 questions. Instructors should send the additional questions to their Mercury Liaison to be added to the appropriate course evaluation questionnaire. Note that neither instructors nor academic units can modify or delete questions from the default course evaluation questionnaires.
- At the beginning of each term, the mercury [dot] info [at] mcgill [dot] ca (TLS Mercury system administrator) will provide the following information to all Mercury Departmental Liaisons:
- the dates of the evaluation periods when Mercury will be available to students for course evaluation completion,
- the deadline date for creating course evaluations.
- The default course evaluation period (for regularly scheduled courses) will be the same across the University. The time period normally runs for approximately six (6) weeks and ends no later than two days after the end of the examination period. These dates will be indicated on the Mercury system page.
- Academic Units, with the prior approval of the Dean, may change the closing date of the evaluation periodfor all its courses to the day before the start of the examination period and thus shorten the evaluation period to approximately three (3) weeks. (See Policy).
- For courses that do not follow the regular term calendar, the individual questionnaires will have customized start and end dates for the evaluation period. The Mercury Departmental Liaison manages the customization process.
- All information about teaching assignments (instructors and teaching assistants) is taken directly from Banner assignments and must be complete and correct before the Mercury Liaison creates the course evaluations. If there is missing or incorrect information, it needs to be updated in Banner (SSASECT form) before proceeding. All courses that are active and have an enrolment above zero will be listed on the Mercury department page. The Liaison selects the courses to be evaluated; note that according to the policy, all courses with five (5) or more students shall be evaluated. (See Policy)
- The University manages several reminder mechanisms during the course evaluation periods:
- A number of email messages are sent on behalf of the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) to all students encouraging them to complete their evaluations.
- There are reminders on the McGill, TLS, Student Information, myMcGill and myCourses home pages.
- Pop-up windows also appear when logging into Minerva.
Please note: For course evaluated outside of the default evaluation period, similar communication strategies are used; however, the frequency may be different.
- Instructors, academic units and student associations are encouraged to discuss the importance of course evaluations with students. (See the list of "suggested" strategies to increase response rate for online course evaluations).
- Students access their course evaluations by logging into their MINERVA account. They can then either:
- follow the prompt in the pop-up window OR
- from the Student Menu:
- click on Mercury Online Course Evaluation Menu
- click on Submit your course evaluations
- If a statement is not applicable or the student does not have a definite opinion on the ranking, the "Not Applicable" option (if available) should be selected or the question should be left unanswered.
- Each evaluation may be completed only once and cannot be changed after submission. Therefore, once a questionnaire has been submitted, it will no longer be available to the student.
- Student responses are completely anonymous and confidential. Student ID numbers are NOT linked to their responses. ID numbers are saved in a separate database only to record completion; they are not available to the instructor or academic unit at any time for any reason.
- To guarantee that all responses are anonymous, partially completed questionnaires cannot be saved for later completion. Once a course evaluation is begun, there cannot be more than 30 minutes of inactivity or all data will be lost. Students should be advised not to include their name or their student number in any part of the course evaluation to avoid inadvertently compromising their anonymity. Instructors, the Mercury Liaison, and the academic unit head can monitor the response rate during the evaluation period and remind students if they wish. For courses evaluated outside of the main evaluation period (i.e.: intensive courses), it is strongly recommended that instructors, the Mercury Liaison, and/or the academic unit head communicate with students and closely monitor the response rate to encourage participation.
- If an instructor arranges for the course evaluation to be administered in the classroom (using laptops) or a computer lab, then the instructor must leave the room or lab while students are completing the evaluations.
- Course evaluation results, both responses to the numerical questions and any student comments, are available to the instructor(s), academic unit heads and Mercury Deaparmental Liaison after the final grades for a course have been submitted and approved. Departmental summaries are only available at the end of each term. Course evaluation results can be downloaded from Mercury for subsequent analysis.
- For multi-instructor courses, the system automatically duplicates all of the instructor-related questions for each instructor assigned to the course in Banner. This means that students can provide specific feedback on multiple instructors while answering course-related questions only once. All course instructors have access to the results of the course questions, but individual instructors only have access to the results of their instructor-related questions.
- Cross-listed courses are two or more courses, from the same or different departments, that have different course numbers (CRNs) but are taught together and function as one course. Although a course evaluation is created for each course number (CRN), the system combines the evaluation results and reports them as one course for confidentiality reasons as they may be only one or two students enrolled in one of the CRNs.
- Course evaluation results will be kept in Mercury for seven academic years; they are then archived in the data warehouse and can be accessed upon request. To obtain access, the academic unit head should send an email to the TLS Mercury system administrator.
- If the Mercury Liaison or academic unit head downloads the results and stores them electronically, they should be either in an external memory format stored in a locked cabinet or in a secure on-line location.
- All instructors should use the online permission form to grant or deny permission for the numerical responses to their course evaluation questions to be made available to McGill students, faculty and authorized administrators). Note that providing students with access to results is one way to increase response rates. If permission is granted, and if the response rates meet the thresholds mentioned below, the numerical results will be available to authorized individuals on MINERVA/Mercury. . Instructors may provide comments to accompany the posted results to provide contextual information.
- In multi-instructor courses, all instructors must grant permission for the numerical data from that course’s evaluation results to be disseminated. Permission may be granted or denied for all courses. In that case, the decision is applied going forward although it may be changed if the instructor wishes. Permission may also be granted on a course-by-course basis.
- No written comments are disseminated. Re-appointment, tenure and promotion committees may consider written comments only as submitted by the candidate. (See Policy statement #18)
- The dissemination form is displayed below the Course List. A decision can only be given when looking at courses from the current academic year up until May 31 of that year. Between June 1 and August 31, instructors will receive a message informing them that it is too late to give a decision for the current academic year. When looking at future years, they receive a message telling them that they cannot change the decision for this academic year until Sept of that year. When looking at previous years, they receive an error message telling them that they cannot change permissions for previous years.
- If the instructor is viewing the current year and it is before May 31, they will be presented with one of 4 scenarios:
- They have never given a decision. In this case, a message will indicate they have not made a decision and will be asked to use the ‘Click here to continue’ button to give their decision.
- They have only given a decision in a previous year. In this case, a message will indicate that their previous decision carries over into the future and that they can change it for the current year by using the ‘Click here to continue’ button.
- They gave a decision for the current year and it was done within the last 7 days. In this case, a message will indicate what the current decision is and when it was made. It will also inform them of the date until which they will be able to edit their decision (7 days from the first time they gave a decision for this year) and present them with the ‘Click here to continue’ button.
- They gave a decision for the current year and it was done more than 7 days ago. In this case, a message will indicate their decision and when it was made. It will also inform them that they can reconsider this decision next year.
- Numerical course evaluation results will be disseminated by academic year and the McGill community should have access to five (5) previous academic years. Results from the previous academic year (fall and winter) should be available when the Fall registration period begins. Summer results should be available the following semester. For example: in the Fall 2008 registration period, results from Fall 2007 and Winter 2008 will be displayed; Summer 2008 results will only be displayed in Winter 2009.
- Results will only be disseminated to the McGill community if the response rates indicated below are achieved:
Response rate (%)
min 5 responses
at least 40%
at least 35%
at least 30%
201 or more
at least 25%
Note: Results from courses with less than five (5) students enrolled are never disseminated.
Any questions and/or comments should be addressed to the mercury [dot] info [at] mcgill [dot] ca (TLS Mercury system administrator).