SmartEvals (process & timeline for student evaluations)

Each semester, departments and programs in Oberlin’s College of Arts & Sciences and Conservatory of Music collect student evaluations of teaching using SmartEvals. The system assists in contacting students but it is incumbent upon the instructor to motivate their students to fill them out.
The Process
Immediately after add/drop ends
Users are updated in the SmartEvals system. We are currently using a manually modified version of the file used to create users in Blackboard.
Mid-module or semester
Courses  and Instructors are added to the system.  Department Heads (AAs and Chairs) are asked to confirm that the appropriate courses are listed, the questions being asked are correct for that course, and the enrollments are correct. They can also add any questions that they would like to ask.
20 days before the last day of classes.
Students are added to the appropriate courses and faculty are asked to confirm enrollments and question sets
10 days before the last day of classes.
Evaluations are made available to students. 1st module courses receive are open before break. The rest are made available to students at the end of the term.
Advertising to students that they need to fill them out.
On the first day that course evaluations are available to students, the system sends emails to all students and faculty whose courses are being evaluated using the on-line system.
Followup emails are sent to both faculty and students every other day until classes end.
Results can be accessed the day after grades are due.

Recommendations for Getting High Response Rates.

  1. Have students fill them out in class using a laptop or their phone.
  2. It would be very helpful if you set aside five minutes at the beginning of class to speak with students about the evaluation process. Mentioning the following items will greatly increase your chances of success:
    • The evaluation period has begun.
    • They will receive emails with links to the surveys. The surveys can be accessed on a phone as well as computers.
    • Give students a few specific examples of how you used feedback from past course evaluations. For instance, “Last semester the evaluations said I should make better use of the course website, and that is why this year I have been posting notes online.”
    • Tell students that their responses are completely anonymous and that teachers will only see results after grades are released.

Below is a sample of the initial email that is sent to students.

Student course evaluations are important to your instructor, to departments, and to the College of Arts and Sciences.  Faculty use their evaluations to assess course effectiveness, and instructors regularly revise course organization, approach, and content in response to feedback on course evaluations.  Departments and the College consider student evaluations of teaching in faculty personnel decisions such as tenure and promotion.  Thus, we ask that you answer each question thoughtfully and honestly.  Student comments are especially valuable; we encourage you to write prose comments where appropriate.

If you have any technical issues or any comments about the process, please email

How to add questions & preview a course’s evaluation.
How to send out a reminder email to students that have not filled out the evaluations.
How to find and access your results.

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