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Strategies to encourage student participation

Instructors: visit our Teaching for Learning @ McGill Blog for "10 Ways to Encourage Course Evaluation Participation."

University-wide email reminders

Reminders with a direct link to access Mercury will be sent by the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) to all students with course evaluations to complete. These will be sent to the students’ McGill email accounts. Once they complete their course evaluations, students stop receiving these reminders.

  • Six (6) email reminders for the default course evaluation period
  • Four (4) email reminders for the condensed evaluation period
  • Two (2) email reminders for intensive courses with customized evaluation periods (an additional email reminder is sent if the specific evaluation period is more than 21 days)
  • One (1) email reminder is sent during the evaluation period to instructors at their email accounts

University-wide announcements

  • On Minerva when students login, a pop-up window appears during the default and condensed evaluation periods
  • On myCourses during the default and condensed evaluation periods, (not for intensive and summer courses)
  • On myMcGill Portal during the default and condensed evaluation periods
  • On public display boards across campus during the default and condensed evaluation periods
  • On various computer labs across campus
  • On McGill's Twitter and Facebook page
  • On SSMU’s Facebook page during the default and condensed evaluation periods from the undergraduate students’ society
  • Links to Mercury are also accessible from McGill, TLS and Faculty homepages during the default and condensed evaluation periods

Announcements and memos

There has been great concern about increasing response rates for course evaluations. It is very important to remind students to fill in course evaluations to ensure an adequate response rate.

Instructors and departments are strongly encouraged to use multiple ways that are available to them: send students an email, post an announcement on course website, myCourses, and make in-class announcements. Below are announcements in various formats that can be used during the evaluation period to encourage students to fill in course evaluations.

Announcements
Monitor Display Boards (EN/FR) [.ppt] (format 16:10)
Sample Text Announcement [.txt]

Memos
For Instructors - Fall 2014 [.doc]
For Teaching Assistants - Fall 2014 [.doc]

Strategies for instructors and units

Communicating the value of course evaluations

  1. One of the biggest incentives for students to complete course evaluations is evidence of their importance to instructors. Instructors should communicate the value of course evaluations both in class and in course outlines. Highlighting changes made to the course based on previous course evaluations results communicates to students that their feedback is taken seriously.
  2. Students are more likely to respond if they know that the results will be accessible. Instructors should both give permission for students to have access to the numerical portion of course evaluations and let their students know that they have done so.
  3. Heads of academic units should communicate the value of course evaluations to all instructors, as well as  encourage them to grant permission for students to have access to the numerical portion of course evaluations.
  4. Heads of academic units can also communicate directly with students by visits to classes or email to encourage them to provide feedback through course evaluations.
  5. When instructors gather and respond to formative feedback during the semester, students are more likely to recognize the value of course evaluations. Suggestions for mid-course evaluations are available here.

Completing course evaluations

  1. Instructors can let students out of class early to do their evaluations.
  2. Instructors can ask students to bring in their laptop to class during the evaluation period and allow time to fill them out in class. Instructors must leave the room during this process.
  3. If instructors have access to computer labs, they can reserve a time during the evaluation period for students to go and fill them out. Instructors must leave the room during this process.

Reminders and announcements to students

  1. Instructors should include the evaluation period dates in their class schedule/course outlines.
  2. Instructors can monitor response rates and post a message on myCourses. See a video example of one instructor's experience.
  3. Instructors and departments can also send reminders by email.
  4. Departments can post a message on their website and/or office bulletin.

Strategies for student leaders

As student leaders, you are the best-placed to help in increasing student participation in course evaluations and communicate to your fellow students some important information they may not be aware of:

  1. The system is available 24/7 and evaluation period dates can be found here.
  2. Students can access their course evaluations in Minerva/Student Menu/Mercury Online Course Evaluations/Submit your course evaluations. Click here for direct link.
  3. Course evaluation results from previous terms are available in Minerva/Student Menu/Mercury Online Course Evaluations/View course evaluation results. Click here for direct link.
  4. No questionnaire is longer than 25 items, and students may choose to answer only those questions they wish—it really is quick to provide your feedback.
  5. At McGill, course evaluations results are considered in merit and promotion.

While response rates have been increasing over the past few years, they remain an on-going area of concern for some instructors and administrators.  We have seen over the past few years that efforts by student leaders to improve student participation have resulted in notable increases. Effective strategies have included:

  • in-class announcements by fellow students,
  • emails from the student association leadership,
  • computer lab banners, and
  • announcements on electronic display boards.

Thank you again for your contribution and support in this important process!