Student ratings provide formative information often used in summative evaluations for professional advancement. An analysis is necessary to consider how to leverage the positive aspects of the course, minimize some of the less successful elements of the course, and address misperceptions regarding the course early in the semester. Some ideas to keep in mind (derived from McGill University) include:

  • Balance student written comments with the quantitative ratings. Otherwise, negative comments may be given more weight than is appropriate.
  • Look for repeated patterns in the comments to identify areas of importance to the class as a whole. However, do not dismiss a statement out of hand if it comes from only one student.
  • Positive comments tend to be more general, whereas negative comments focus on a particular aspect of a course.
  • Comments on items outside of an instructor’s control, such as scheduling, class length, timing, and frequency, are critical and can be discussed within the department.
  • After reading through your students’ written comments, make an initial assessment and determine possible next steps, such as sharing your ideas and questions with a teaching mentor, colleague, or staff within CELT.

The Student Ratings Analysis Worksheet can help make sense of student responses. In Part 1, a table is provided for categorization to organize student comments. Part 2 offers guiding questions for reflection and next steps.

Remember that small changes can have significant effects. Some student comments might be immediately actionable, while others take additional time and effort. Teaching mentors, colleagues, and CELT staff can be beneficial in discerning the value and context of the student comments.