Online Administration of Student Evaluations Administering SETs online creates

Online administration of student evaluations

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Online Administration of Student Evaluations Administering SETs online creates multiple benefits. Online administration enables instructors to devote more class time to instruction (vs. administering paper-based forms) and can improve the integrity of the process. Students who are not pressed for time in class are more likely to reflect on their answers and write more detailed comments (Morrison, 2011; Stowell et al., 2012; Venette et al., 2010). Because electronic aggregation of responses bypasses the time-consuming task of transcribing comments (sometimes written in challenging handwriting), instructors can receive summary data and verbatim comments shortly after the close of the term instead of weeks or months into the following term. Despite the many benefits of online administration, instructors and students have expressed concerns about online administration of SETs. Students have expressed concern that their responses are not confidential when they must use their student identification number to log into the system (Dommeyer et al., 2002). However, breaches of confidentiality can occur even with paper-based administration. For example, an instructor might recognize student handwriting (one reason some students do not write comments on paper-based forms), or an instructor might remain present during SET administration (Avery et al., 2006). In-class, paper-based administration creates social expectations that might motivate students to complete SETs. In contrast, students who are concerned about confidentiality or do not understand how instructors and institutions use SET findings to improve teaching might ignore requests to complete an online SET (Dommeyer et al., 2002). Instructors in turn worry that low response rates will reduce the validity of the findings if students who do not complete an SET differ in significant ways from students who do (Stowell et al., 2012). For example, students who do not attend class regularly often miss class the day that SETs are administered. However, all students (including nonattending students) can complete the forms when they are administered online. Faculty also fear that SET findings based on a low-response sample will be dominated by students in extreme categories (e.g., students with grudges, students with extremely favorable attitudes), who may be particularly motivated to complete online SETs, and therefore that SET findings will inadequately represent the voice of average students (Reiner & Arnold, 2010). Effects of Format on Response Rates and Student Evaluation Scores The potential for biased SET findings associated with low response rates has been examined in the published literature. In findings that run contrary to faculty fears that online SETs might be dominated by
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COMPARISON OF STUDENT EVALUATIONS OF TEACHING 4 low-performing students, Avery et al. (2006) found that students with higher grade-point averages (GPAs) were more likely to complete online evaluations. Likewise, Jaquett et al. (2017) reported that
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