Course Evaluations FAQ
- Q. What are the electronic evaluations? Who gets them?
The electronic evaluations were created by the Columbia AcIS computer programmers and each semester they continue to be developed. SIPA was a pilot school for this system and is now setting a standard copied at other Universities around the U.S. Local administration of the program is managed through the SIPA Department of Faculty and Curriculum Affairs.
Evaluations are sent automatically to each UNI on a class roster in Courseworks. If you have access to course materials through Courseworks but are not a registered student in the class, let your professor know before evaluations are sent out so your name can be removed from the list or you will get an evaluation sent to your UNI. The electronic evaluation system is constantly developing and being adapted; that issue should be addressed by the Fall 2005 evaluations.
- Q. Why doesn’t the evaluation ask questions specifically about my course?
There is no way to alter the evaluation for your individual course as there is one evaluation form sent out to all students in all of the SIPA courses at the same time. You cannot leave any spaces blank or ignore any questions on the evaluation; this means if you had no TA or outside speakers in the class you can just put N/A.
- Q. Do I have to fill it out? What is with all those emails?
An automatic email reminder is sent every few days to remind you to fill out the evaluation for that course. If you don’t fill out the evaluation one day, the next day you will receive another reminder again for each class, so the longer you wait the more emails you get! Many students are busy at the end of the semester so they put off the evaluations but the best advice is to do them right away and end the email barrage.
And yes the rumors are true; if you do not fill out the evaluation for the class you will never be able to see your grade in Courseworks for that course, ever. The system is automatic so if you miss one evaluation and want to go back and see that grade some time in the future it will never be visible to you.
- Q. When will I get it? How long do I have to go fill it out?
Electronic evaluations are sent at the end of each semester or around mid-terms for short courses completed during the first half of the semester. SIPA students have either one or two weeks to fill in and submit the evaluation.
With paper evaluations students must typically complete them on the final class day. Now there is an opportunity to spend as long as necessary with the form and take time to express opinions about the course in the comments section.
- Q. Why is the evaluation close date at that time? Why can’t I fill it in after my final exam?
Students may feel they do not have time at the end of a busy semester to fill in the evaluation or want to wait until after the final exams but the timing of the evaluation is important to preserve the relationship between faculty and student. The date of the close of the evaluation is selected very carefully by the SIPA Department of Faculty and Curriculum Affairs. Although it would be ideal to have the evaluations close after the final exam or paper, that is just not tenable. Faculty cannot see their evaluations until all grades are submitted to the University Registrar so grading parity can be preserved.
- Q. Who reads the evaluations? Does anything really happen with them?
Student evaluations are very important for the instructors; in fact, these reviews will follow the faculty throughout their career in academia. The evaluations are used as part of the faculty tenure review process as well as in the re-hiring of adjunct professors and lecturers. If a faculty member leaves Columbia, other academic institution interested in hiring or tenure typically request copies of past course evaluations.
At SIPA once the evaluation closes the evaluation tables, statistics, and anonymous comments are available for the course instructor to read. In addition, every answer and comment is read by senior staff at the Department of Faculty and Curriculum Affairs and any thematic problems in a class are identified. These issues are directed to the Concentration Director and the highest levels of the Dean’s Office where issues of faculty or curriculum development can be addressed.
- Q. Can I see the evaluation results?
Yes! Students are able to see the tables or statistics portion of the closed evaluations online on the SIPA website. The anonymous comments are only for the instructors, Dean’s Office staff mentioned above and the Concentration Directors as need be. To check out the evaluations, click here. Access is restricted to students enrolled at SIPA.
Thanks for filling out the evaluations, it’s worth it!