Policy 5310 — Policy on Surveys of the Student Experience of Courses

Policy section:
Section 5300-5399 Teaching and Learning
Policy number:
5310
Subject:
Policy on Surveys of the Student Experience of Courses
Group:
Institutional
Approved By:
Senate
Approved date:
September 22, 2009
Effective date:
September 22, 2009
Revised:
February 13, 2018
March 14, 2012
Administered by:
Provost and Vice-President, Academic & Research

1 — INTRODUCTION

Mount Allison University is committed to excellence in undergraduate teaching and learning. To that end, the university supports the development and implementation of a system of student surveys that

  • a) reflects and supports both individual teaching styles and disciplinary standards; and
  • b) encourages reflection on information pertaining to teaching and learning that arise from a number of sources: surveys of students related to their experience of courses and instruction, peer review, and continuous self-assessment.

 While making reference to other sources of feedback, this policy will focus on surveys of the student experience of courses.

2 — GOALS

The goals of this policy are the following:

  • a) To articulate the underlying principles of course surveys as a means of encouraging reflective teaching at Mount Allison,  
  • b) To establish a set of survey questions for Mount Allison University that includes both standardized questions and optional additions (See Appendix A);
  • c) To establish practices to be used in surveys of student conducted under this policy (See Appendix B); and
  • d) To outline and describe the roles of those who are responsible for the conduct and administration of this policy. These include students, professors, and university administrators.

3 — DEFINITION OF TERMS

Evaluation involves personnel decisions such as hiring, tenure and promotion, and decisions on teaching awards. Evaluation processes for personnel decisions are set out in the Collective Agreements between the University and the Mount Allison Faculty Association.

Summative Assessment aims to inform evaluative processes.

Formative Assessment aims to inform teaching practice or enhance its quality.

Sources for Assessment: information for assessment may come from a variety of sources, including students, peers, and professors themselves.

4 — GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR STUDENT EVALUATION OF TEACHING

Ordinarily, all students registered in every course at Mount Allison (including correspondence and spring session courses) should be given the opportunity to participate in a survey each time  it is taught. The following principles will inform the conduct of the surveys:
 
a) Assessment of courses and teaching at Mount Allison University will be based on information collected over time from a variety of sources. 

b) Assessment of courses and teaching at Mount Allison may serve formative purposes, to provide individual faculty members with the information they require to monitor, maintain, and develop the quality and effectiveness of their teaching and their courses.

c) Results from surveys of students related to their experience of courses and instruction may have summative applications; information gathered from such surveys may be used in hiring, promoting, granting tenure, and adjudicating teaching awards.

d) Assessment of courses and teaching is multi-faceted, and student survey results ratings are but one part; they should be complemented by peer review, ongoing self-assessment, and reflection.

e) Evaluation and assessment procedures at Mount Allison will be conducted in accordance with the Collective Agreements between the University and the Mount Allison Faculty Association (MAFA).

f) Student survey procedures at Mount Allison will protect student anonymity and confidentiality: students will not be required to provide their signature, name, or student number.

g) The integrity of the survey and assessment process must be ensured and the needs of the various stakeholders supported; therefore, practices for the conduct of the surveys and the interpretation of he results are here hereby set forth by Senate in Appendix A and Appendix B. These practices will be reviewed by senate at regular intervals.

h) To ensure a productive learning environment, individual faculty members are also encouraged to gather formative feedback during their courses, using methods and sources of their own choice.

5 — IMPLEMENTATION

The Survey Form  
Usually, students registered in every course at Mount Allison University will be provided the opportunity to participate in a survey each time the course is taught, typically  using the standard Mount Allison Survey Form (See Appendix A), which will contain a statement of the purpose of the survey and:

  1. Core questions that will appear on every form;
  2. Optional customized questions, chosen or created by the individual professor to reflect the specific teaching and learning goals or context of the course and
  3. Open-ended questions, which elicit written (paper form) or typed (on-line) responses, and questions about student characteristics deemed relevant to the survey.

Survey Procedure
The survey of students under this Policy will take place at a time and date deemed appropriate by the instructor, ordinarily within the last two weeks of class (See Appendix B).
 
Special Circumstances
While every course at Mount Allison must have a survey, the standard university survey form may not be appropriate for courses which involve a small number of students or individual or independent study (e.g., research projects, studio or music courses). In these special circumstances, other means should be provided to make possible student feedback, according to departmental or disciplinary custom.
 
Dissemination of Data
Only after final grades have been submitted will student survey results from a a course be made available to the instructor of that course. Student survey results will not be distributed to anyone other than the instructor without the permission of the instructor.

6 — RESPONSIBILITIES

a) The Office of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research, is responsible for the administration of this policy; and

b) The Purdy Crawford Teaching Centre will provide:

  • i) information about teaching portfolios, and teaching enhancement; and
  • ii) confidential services to support individual professors in their on-going work to maintain the quality of teaching and learning at the university.
Appendix A: Mount Allison Student Survey Form

Student Survey [If paper based, add the following line:]

PLEASE DO NOT WRITE ON THIS FORM. USE SCANTRON "BUBBLE" SHEETS.

Mount Allison University recognizes the importance of the academic success of students. Your responses on this survey will help your professor to maintain and develop the quality of the course and the learning environment. In addition, the data provided may be used for institutional decisions such as promotion, tenure, and teaching awards. Please answer the following questions thoughtfully, honestly, and respectfully.

Rating scale for all required questions and any added questions, up to question 16:

  • Strongly Disagree: 1
  • Disagree: 2
  • Neutral: 3
  • Agree: 4
  • Strongly Agree: 5  

Please leave your response blank if the question is not applicable.

[The questions from Appendix B of the Full-time Collective Agreement between the University and the Mount Allison Faculty Association will be inserted here as the first questions of the survey.]

The remaining questions, up to question 16, have been left available for added questions, if any, either created by the individual professor or chosen from an institutional question bank to reflect the particular goals or context of the course.  

ABOUT YOU  

17. Your level of interest in the subject prior to this course:       

  • Very low: 1
  • Low: 2
  • Medium: 3
  • High: 4
  • Very high: 5       

18. Your overall grade point average at Mount Allison:       

  • Below 2.5: 1
  • 2.5 - 2.9: 2
  • 3.0 - 3.4: 3
  • 3.5 - 3.7: 4 above 3.7: 5       

19. Your expected grade in the course:       

  • F: 1
  • D: 2
  • C: 3
  • B: 4
  • A: 5       

20. Your reason for taking the course:       

  • required: 1
  • distribution: 2
  • elective: 3
  • personal interest: 4
  • other: 5       

21. Your year in school:       

  • First: 1
  • Second: 2
  • Third: 3
  • Fourth: 4
  • Fifth or higher: 5       

22. Other than any time spent in class for this course, how many hours per week do you usually spend working on this course?

  • 2 hours or less: 1
  • More than 2 and less than 4 hours: 2
  • More than 4 and less than 6 hours: 3
  • More than 6 and less than 8 hours: 4
  • 8 hours or more: 5

Your responses are especially important to your professor as a means of discovering what was successful and what could be modified in course. Therefore, please take a few minutes to provide your responses to the following two questions:

[If paper-based, add:]

There is a space for your responses on the back of the Scantron "bubble sheet". You may wish to print your comments to avoid recognition of your handwriting.

Please note that any forms containing malicious or inappropriate comments will be destroyed or deleted.

23. Please indicate the characteristics of this course that have been most valuable to your overall learning experience.

24. Please indicate the characteristics of this course you feel might be most important to improve (particularly those aspects not mentioned elsewhere on this form), if any.

[Additional questions may be included here.]

Thank you for your feedback.

Appendix B: Practices for student surveys of courses at Mount Allison University

Practices for Student Surveys of Courses

Instructor Preparation

  • Familiarize yourself with the Mount Allison survey form, the Collective Agreements between the University and the Mount Allison Faculty Association and this policy.
  • Read support materials made available by the Senate Teaching and Learning Committee, the Purdy Crawford Teaching Centre (PCTC), and the Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research.
  • Browse through the question bank (pdf).
  • Prepare your students by telling them when the survey will be made available.

Constructing the Survey

Students should be provided with the opportunity to communicate insights from their experiences in courses. They may choose not to share these insights through the survey, and no academic penalty will arise from a reluctance to participate in the survey. Participation or non-participation in the survey will not have any impact on course grades. Survey participation should be confidential: to the extent possible, the survey form and process should be designed such that the responses of any individual student are not identifiable.

Instructors should choose carefully between conducting the survey using paper forms and making the survey available to students to complete on-line. The medium of the survey — on paper forms or on-line — should be chosen by the instructor of the course, giving due consideration to issues such as completion rates, timeliness, usefulness of results, and confidentiality.

The structure of the survey will be such that

  1. The initial core set of questions will be drawn from Appendix B of the Full-time Collective Agreement between the University and the Mount Allison Faculty Association.
  2. An additional set of questions may be chosen by the instructor. The questions for this section may be created by the instructor, or selected from an institutional question bank, or may be a combination of selected and created questions. An instructor may choose not to add questions in the second set of questions. If there are tutorials or a laboratory component connected with the course, it is strongly encouraged that there be questions added in this second section to permit students to communicate their experiences with these components of the course. Instructors are also encouraged to consider the addition of questions strongly recommended by the Mount Allison Student Union (MASU) and by the Purdy Crawford Teaching Centre (PCTC) for teaching award nominations.
  3.  The concluding set of questions will include two open-ended questions, which elicit written (paper form) or typed (on-line) responses, and questions about student characteristics deemed relevant to the survey.

The university will develop and maintain a process to count the responses and make available the results to the instructors.

Conducting On-Line Surveys

Surveys should usually be conducted within the last two weeks of classes. The timing of the survey — during or outside of scheduled class time — should be chosen by the instructor of the course, giving due consideration to issues such as completion rates, timeliness, usefulness of results, and confidentiality. Instructors should ensure that the surveys are available for a period of sufficient length as to allow for their completion. The period when the survey questions will be accessible to students should be indicated in the course outline and/or announced at the start of the term and should be announced again to the class near to the beginning of the survey period.
 
Student Survey Results

Student survey responses should be anonymous. Only an instructor may make available, for the purpose specified by that instructor, the anonymized results of surveys conducted in one of their courses; administrators should not provide access, otherwise. One such purpose is for institutional decisions such as promotion and tenure and for teaching award nominations. Prevailing laws, regulations, policies, and provisions of collective agreements governing privacy and confidentiality should be respected.

Generally, only after final grades have been submitted will student survey results from a course be made available to the instructor of that course. Student survey results will not be distributed to anyone other than the instructor without the permission of the instructor.

Once results become available they should be retrieved as soon as possible by the instructor of the course. In the case of paper surveys, the forms should be returned to the instructor. In the case of on-line surveys, the results should be deleted from the server. Student survey data stored on any University-administered system shall be deleted no later than January 31 for data collected during the Fall Term, May 31 for data collected during the Winter Term, and July 31 for data collected during the Spring/Summer Term.