Your voice matters – End of semester surveys go digital

Katie Null

Starting this semester, course evaluations for all Kent State classes will be taken online. 

Department chairs and individual faculty look at each survey response to see what can be changed in their programs and classrooms to give students a more enriching experience.

Faculty Senate Chair Pam Grimm said it is critical that students fill out the comment section on SSIs rather than only rating on the scale.

“Use the comments to tell us what’s working and what’s not working in the classroom, because that’s how we make change happen. That’s the most critical part.” 

In addition to the universal questions students are used to seeing on SSIs, departments and individual faculty are now able to add personalized questions to the survey for each class. 

Grimm hopes that professors will dedicate some class time toward the end of the semester for students to fill out their SSI, but students can also fill out the surveys on their own time if they wish. 

Online SSIs have been tested multiple times, and are already used for KSU online classes through Flashsurveys. The first pilot took place in fall 2013 in First Year Experience classes, and then expanded to other academic units that volunteered to use the online version. In 2014, online SSIs expanded to Kent State Geauga, Trumbull, and Ashtabula Campuses. The pilot concluded in 2015 and all in-person classes returned to paper surveys.

The switch to digital SSIs was a no-brainer for the implementation team. In the past, all comments made on SSIs had to be manually typed into the computer, which an online SSI eliminates. 

The environmental impact was another huge factor in the decision to go digital. System Support Specialist Anthony Parker said roughly 125,000 evaluations will go out to Kent State students this semester, meaning there could be as many as 200,000 sheets of paper used every semester for course evaluations alone. 

Junior biology major, Tobe Iwelunmor said not only is the change good from a sustainability standpoint, but the effort to improve the surveys shows students that they matter. 

“I never thought that anyone really paid attention to the responses … if the effort is being put in to change them then I feel like people will give more in depth responses and feel like it’s more important.” 

Iwelunmor said that additionally, sometimes students feel rushed to complete the surveys in class and the option to fill it out online will eliminate that issue.

Paul Creed III, technology project director in the Office of Continuing and Distance Education, said the process of switching to online surveys has been very well thought out.

 “We really want the students’ true opinions and thoughts on their courses so that we can make their experience better.”

Students in partial semester courses will get to use the online version soon, while all Kent State Students will have the chance to fill out online SSIs for their courses at the end of the semester.

Katie Null is an administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected].