Online Course Evaluation

Brock University has selected eXplorance Blue as its comprehensive course evaluation system to provide for flexibility in course evaluation options and, ultimately, to enhance Brock’s overall teaching and learning experience.

Students are directed to course evaluations by links on Isaak, Brock University’s Sakai-Based LMS, or through web-based communications such as email. Direct access is also available from https://brocku.bluera.com/brocku.

A recent report, Brock Blue: an Overview, provides a brief description of Blue, participation rates as of the report’s last edit, and a sample of an evaluation report in snippets.

The following points may assist in answering your questions about online course evaluations at Brock:

Students will be contacted directly through their Brock emails when the evaluation of your course becomes active. A link will be included in the message that provides a direct connection to campus authentication and then a list of their courses that are being evaluated online. Clicking upon one of the courses will open the evaluation form. Students may complete the form in stages if that’s their preference, as the form will automatically submit when the closing date for evaluation arrives. Students that have not submitted will receive reminder messages to their Brock email that evaluations are still awaiting their attention.

Student input is valued: Above all, students ought to be reminded that their constructive and critical feedback on the delivery of your course is meaningfully considered as the course is developed term after term. If your department possesses specific processes for taking student feedback into account, they’re worth mentioning.

Submissions are anonymous: Student submissions to online evaluations in eXplorance Blue are entirely anonymous and will not be reviewed by the instructor until after final grades for the course have been submitted. Submission data, whether offered by students as numeric responses to Likert-style questions or in prose to open-ended questions, will be retained in aggregate within the system for later retrieval by the instructor.

Submission is flexible: Final course evaluations online can be submitted within a window of several days, so advise students that they probably needn’t rush when considering their responses. Evaluations may be completed and submitted with most mobile phones, tablets, or laptops, and can normally be accessed via an Isaak-Sakai course site or a message from Brock University email.

A list of the events which take place as part of the online evaluation process is available on the CPI teaching wiki.

Online course evaluations continue to consist of questions determined by individual departments. In almost all cases, your currently used evaluation forms are simply being migrated to a digital format, making the online evaluation of your course very similar or identical to its print-based version.

Yes, instructors are encouraged to craft custom questions as appropriate for their final course evaluations. Please consider strategies for the creation of effective summative course evaluations — among others, McGill University’s Recommended Pool of Questions for Courses and Instructors serves as an excellent guide.

Once evaluations have concluded and the deadline for submission of course grades has passed, reports can be viewed or downloaded for your records via eXplorance Blue’s online platform. You will be provided with a link to this location via your Brock email in the weeks leading up to online evaluation.

Brock University’s use of eXplorance Blue respects BUFA agreement section 1 12.7d, which makes clear that “student course evaluations are not public documents and are the property of the instructor”. Instructors can access reports for all of their current and past courses that have completed final course evaluations via eXplorance Blue.

Faculty members are permitted to use online tools or platforms that conform with the standards of their respective academic departments, but caution is always advised in relation to data privacy. Note that eXplorance Blue is a fully-featured tool built solely for course evaluation — it’s expected that most types of online course evaluations will be well served within this environment.

Online evaluations are an opt-in process which respects BUFA agreement section 1 12.7d, making clear that “student course evaluations are not public documents and are the property of the instructor”. The process further respects BUFA agreement section 16.03d which details the requirement of the departmental committee to establish the process of course evaluations, after consulting with the Dean.

Most literature indicates that response rates to online final course evaluations are normally lower than those of final paper-based evaluations (Morrison, 2013)(Weimar, 2016), though taking effective steps to remind students that an online evaluation is available and assuring them that their submissions are completely anonymous will serve to significantly mitigate this issue. Further to this, it’s crucial that students are informed that their constructive feedback on the delivery of your course is meaningfully considered as the course is developed term after term. Goodman, Anson, and Belcheir (2015) discuss the use of these strategies as well as incentives to increase the rate of response to online evaluation of teaching.

Some instructors choose to make final evaluation reports available online using Brock faculty web spaces. If you plan to do this, note that it’s good practice to advise students that their anonymous submissions may be made publicly viewable.

You are welcome to contact the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation at edtech@brocku.ca or extension 4734 for assistance with using eXplorance Blue.