Building a Better Course Evaluation Form: Here’s a Template

Building a Better Course Evaluation Form: Here’s a Template

It’s course evaluation time.  Most student evaluation forms look as bureaucratic as the one in this photo. Do we really need to make our course evaluations as inhumane as a bubble test?  No, we don’t.

At the Futures Initiative, we think we can do better–and, below, you will find the questions we ask students and faculty teaching our classes. We want faculty, as well as students, to reflect on what they did and what they might want to do if they offer this course again or what they might carry into other courses. We want to learn from everyone’s experience of a class.  

If these questions are helpful, please feel free to use them as a template for designing your own feedback mechanism.

Two seemingly contradictory things to keep in mind when designing course evaluations: 

  1. We have plenty of research that student evaluation forms reproduce all kinds of bias–race, gender, sexuality, age, ableist, disciplinary, national, linguistic, religious, political, and beyond.   (For examples of gender bias in course evaluations, for example, see “Gender Bias in Academe”)
  2. We also have plenty of research that good feedback helps everyone.

So at the Futures Initiative, we work to find different ways of gaining insight and feedback without replicating bias. 

I’ve already blogged about a favorite “last day of class” assignment where I have students answer the question: “Given that this is the last time we will all be in a room together, what is the one question you wish to ask of the profs, another student, or one another?” 

Here are our questions for all FI profs and students to fill out about our courses:

Black Listed, Spring 2018

Profs. Cathy N. Davidson and Shelly Eversley

Evaluation for Students and Faculty in Futures Initiative Courses, Spring 2018

The Futures Initiative is a Graduate Center program that sponsors five to seven unique courses each year. Central Line faculty are invited to apply (in an annual competition) to team-teach with CUNY campus faculty to offer unique new courses or to add new content or perspectives to existing courses, with an emphasis on diversity and equity, interdisciplinarity, social justice or social impact, and some aspect of engaged or student-directed pedagogy. Student and faculty research and methods from these courses are showcased in an annual, collaborative GC conference.

All these courses are new, one-time offerings. Some are experimental and exploratory. That means they present challenges and new kinds of work for the faculty and for the students. This evaluation form—for students and faculty—will help FI assess how well it is delivering on this commitment and what else it might do to achieve its goals.

  1. Why did you sign up to take this course? (Or, for faculty, why did you apply to teach this course?) What did it offer you that was different from other offerings in your program or at the GC?
  2. Did the course deliver on your expectations (and, for faculty, on your goals)?   What was most unique, inspiring, or important about this class?
  3. If this course were offered again, what features would you most want to retain? What do you hope to replicate in other courses–including ones that are different in audience or subject matter?
  4. What would you improve if this course could be offered again? What would you have added (or taken away)? For faculty, what would you do in a different way next time?
  5. Did this course have an impact on your research or teaching? If so, please describe.
  6. Thinking more broadly about the larger goals of Futures Initiative courses (as described above): Do you think FI’s courses offer something new and significant? What other kinds of courses would you like to see FI sponsor? What other elements are missing from the course offerings available and what might FI think about soliciting in the future?
  7. Please share any additional feedback about this course or your involvement with the Futures Initiative.