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Thursday, June 19 • 4:00pm - 4:30pm
CON8.13 – Students' Motivations for Participation in Course Evaluations Outside of the Classroom: The Role of the Instructor in Online Course Evaluations (Room A236)

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The summative course evaluation process represents an important feedback mechanism in a course learning space: here, students, as members of this space, provide information, more formally, about their learning experiences to their instructors, institution, and in some cases, their peers. With the continuing integration of technological facilitators that expand the learning space to outside the physical classroom (i.e. online course evaluation systems), the course evaluation mechanism has expanded as well, offering students the opportunity to provide their perceptions about their learning experiences on their own, unconstrained by time set aside in the classroom. Indeed, the movement to a flexible, online, and reflective course evaluation process has been met with concern by some: instructors are wary of students’ participation rates (Crews & Curtis, 2011), the quality of students’ responses (Hardy, 2003), and the perceived reduction in control over how and when the information is collected (Morrisson, 2013).

Whereas extensive research has investigated instructors’ perceptions of effective communication mechanisms to encourage student participation in online course evaluations (Ballantyne, 2013), research on students’ actual perceptions of what motivates them to respond in this online course evaluation feedback space is limited. Thus, in the present study, we surveyed a large sample of undergraduate students (N > 10,000) across a number of academic divisions about their perceptions of not only the extent to which our institutional communication strategies effectively educated students about course evaluations, but also about the strategies that they felt motivated them personally to complete a course evaluation for their course(s). In addition, we asked students to list factors they feel motivate students generally to complete online course evaluations on their own as well as factors that motivate them personally. Results demonstrated that students felt institutional messages from the online system, which encouraged them to participate, were educationally effective; however, students also indicated messages from their instructors were also effective. When these factors were statistically regressed onto actual online course evaluation response rates (controlling for various course demographic variables), results demonstrated messages from the course instructor were more strongly associated with student participation than were messages from the online system. Moreover, qualitative themes from students’ written responses confirmed that the instructor, and his or her level of engagement in communicating the importance and meaning of course evaluation feedback, played a key role in student willingness to provide feedback online. Taken together, results suggest that although the online evaluation experience creates a more open and flexible feedback experience for students, student participation remains highly influenced by the instructor’s communicated value of the course evaluation to his or her teaching and course development.

Based on the data presented in this paper presentation, participants will have an opportunity to ask questions. As well, using our results as a guide, presenters will ask participants to generate ideas for how instructors can best communicate the importance of course evaluation feedback to students when this feedback occurs outside of the classroom.

Thursday June 19, 2014 4:00pm - 4:30pm EDT
A236 McArthur Hall

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