New system launching for course and teaching evaluations

(Vanderbilt University)
(Vanderbilt University)

Beginning Dec. 2, students in the four undergraduate schools, the Graduate School and Vanderbilt Divinity School will utilize a new software system to complete their end-of-semester course and teaching evaluations. The changes to the university’s course evaluations practices, which include a new set of survey questions, are being implemented following a multi-committee review that began in 2013. The software—named “Blue” and produced by the company eXplorance—was chosen by a working group with broad faculty representation from multiple schools as well as student representation from Vanderbilt Student Government.

The selection committee chose eXplorance Blue based on positive peer reviews, the product’s integration with the university’s course management system and its ability to support multiple question types, among other key attributes. Most importantly, students will now be able to complete their course and teaching evaluations using mobile technologies, including smart phones, tablets and laptops.

“With the new mobile-friendly functionality, students can complete their course and teaching evaluations using their personal mobile devices, campus desktops, or the iPads and laptops available for checkout at the Jean and Alexander Heard Library. The mobile functionality means that faculty can provide class time during the evaluation window for students to complete their course and teaching evaluations,” Derek Bruff, director of the Center for Teaching, said. “[lquote]Allocating class time for course and teaching evaluations communicates to students the importance of the evaluation process and makes it easier for them to complete their evaluations during a busy time of year.”[/lquote]

Greg Kyle, director of Academic Affairs Process and Solution Implementations, remarked on the strong correlation between allotting class time for course and teaching evaluations and high response rates.

“During a midterm pilot of the eXplorance software, 88 percent of enrolled students submitted responses—a dramatic increase from the overall campus response rate in years past,” he said. “Of those respondents, we noticed that a significant number of instructors provided class time for students to complete their evaluations, and over a quarter of the respondents used mobile devices.”

In preparation for the Dec. 2 course and teaching evaluations launch, the Academic Affairs Process and Solution Implementations team will work with departments and faculty to administer the evaluations, and instructions will be provided to faculty shortly before the new system opens. Faculty, students and staff with questions regarding course and teaching evaluations should email