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FAQ

General Policy

What is the “new system” called?

The new Student Ratings of Instruction electronic system has been developed through the BLUE software that is specifically designed for the purpose of handling large datasets for course evaluation systems.

However, there are some courses at Dalhousie that cannot currently be configured in the BLUE database. For example, some courses that have multiple instructors or are taught in units or blocks by more than one instructor. These courses will be evaluated through Dal’s OPINIO survey system using the same form as the one used in BLUE.  The BLUE system is a relational database that uses the CRN (course reference number) assigned by the Office of the Registrar as a unique identifier. Therefore, if a session does not have a CRN then it cannot be included in the BLUE system.

Where are the data stored and is it secure?

  • The data are stored on a secure server at Dalhousie University.
  • The information may be accessed by the SRI technical administrative at any time.
  • There is no limit on how long the data are stored.

What are the standard 8 questions?

  1. STIMULATION OF LEARNING: The instructor conducted the class/clinical in such a way that I was stimulated to learn.
  2. ORGANIZATION: The instructor organized the class/ clinical well.
  3. COMMUNICATION: The instructor communicated clearly during the class/clinical.
  4. ENTHUSIASM: The instructor showed enthusiasm for the subject matter of the class/clinical.
  5. FAIRNESS: The instructor used fair evaluation methods to determine grades.
  6. FEEDBACK: The instructor provided constructive feedback (considering the class/clinical size).
  7. CONCERN FOR LEARNING: The instructor showed genuine concern for my learning.
  8. OVERALL TEACHING EFFECTIVENESS: Overall, the instructor was an effective teacher.

Please see the complete form at: http://www.dal.ca/dept/clt/SRI/sri_instructor/sriforms.html

How will I know when and where to access the system?

Students and Instructors will receive an email from the system with a link to the appropriate page on BLUE or OPINIO.

Students will receive a link to one or more survey forms depending on the number of courses in which they are registered during the last two weeks of the term in which the evaluation is to be completed.

Instructors and Departments will receive an email to access the system for two reasons:

  1. To enter their specific questions to the evaluation form during the QP process (Question Personalization). This occurs prior to the evaluation period for students and the deadline for submitting questions is given in the email.
  2. To access their reports.

How long can I access the site?

Students can access the site two weeks prior to the end of classes to evaluate their courses.

Instructors can access the site to add personalized questions and to access their reports during the week prior to the site opening to students for course evaluation.

Please see the timeline on the first page of the SRI website.

SRI website: Dal.ca/sri

Which classes should be included in the online evaluation?

All courses in the university should be evaluated through an online process as per the decision made by the Board of Governors in the Fall of 2012.  The information regarding the validity of the names of the instructors and courses to be evaluated in a given term, is the responsibility of the departments.

For example, an XY course with only one instructor should not be evaluated in the Fall semester, but would be evaluated at the end of the Winter semester.  Since students register for an XY course in the Fall this course would be included in the course list sent to the departments in the Fall and then again in the Winter.

How do instructors know that students do not let someone else complete their evaluations?

Evaluation forms can only be accessed through a student’s Dalhousie email address that requires a student to enter his/her net id and password to gain access to the link to complete the form. Students will only be provided links to the courses in which they are registered.

However, students should be reminded about the risks of providing their personal information to other individuals.

Are there any courses that will not be evaluated through BLUE?

There are some courses at Dalhousie that cannot currently be configured in the BLUE database. For example, some courses that have multiple instructors or are taught in units or blocks by more than one instructor.  These courses will be evaluated through Dal’s OPINIO survey system using the same form as the one used in BLUE.  The BLUE system is a relational database that uses the CRN (course reference number) assigned by the Office of the Registrar as a unique identifier.  Therefore, if a session does not have a CRN then it cannot be included in the BLUE system.

 

General Policy

Instructors

What is the Department Course Verification Process (DCVP)?

A process whereby each department is provided the opportunity, before the Banner data is loaded into BLUE, to verify the courses and names of instructors for a given semester.

The department course listings. Based on the Banner data, are sent to each department on an excel spreadsheet. The list should be reviewed for accuracy and any changes regarding the courses and instructor names should be noted.

The revised list is then sent back to the SRI administrator.

When will the results be released?

The results will be released soon after the grade submission deadline in each semester.

Can I change the questions in the comments boxes?

The evaluation form was developed by the university and therefore, at this time, there is no option to change the scales or the types of questions at this time.

However, this issue may be reviewed in the near future.

Can instructors change the scale for my instructor/department-generated questions?

The evaluation form was developed by the university and therefore, at this time, there is no option to change the scales or the types of questions at this time.

However, this issue may be reviewed in the near future.

Can instructors add more than the 5 questions as allotted on the form?

At the moment BLUE only allows each instructor to add 5 questions and each department to add 5 questions.

Can we have paper copies to administer to one of our courses?

As of the Fall of 2012, the Board of Governors and the Senior Administration made a decision not to use a paper-based evaluation process throughout the university.

Certain exceptions may occur for TA’s or Lab Assistants who are evaluated through their own departments.

What if the scales are not appropriate for the questions we want to add to Parts B and C of the form?

  • At this point, Senate’s approval in May 2012 of the scales used on the evaluation form will be followed.
  • This issue may be reviewed.

What happens when incomplete grades are submitted for a course?

At this point, the ability to link the BLUE system with the university grading system, which would indicate when an incomplete grade has been submitted, does not exist.

The results are released in conjunction with the deadline for grade submission.

Will the response rates decrease?

Research has shown that with online systems the response rates are sometimes lower.  However, the response rates normally increase over time after each administration of the evaluations.

How can response rates be increased?

Two of the most important ways to increase response rates are to:

  1. allow students to complete the forms in class as was done in the paper-based system; and
  2. inform students how the results are used and why their feedback is important.

When the reports are received, how do instructors know which comments are “signed” comments?

Two separate reports will be sent: one with the signed comments and one with the unsigned comments. This is indicated in the title of the report.

Please note: The checkboxes at the end of the comments form for students to indicate whether they want their comments to be used for “tenure, promotion or other personnel decisions”.  If students do not check the box, their comments will be deemed unsigned and will not be used for this purpose.

Is there any difference in the quality and quantity of comments between the online and paper-based systems?

Research has shown that both the number of written comments and words increase, and that the quality of comments improves with online systems.

Who decides which courses are evaluated in a given department?

All courses at Dalhousie University should be evaluated through the university-wide electronic systems. These systems rely on the Banner data to determine the course, student, and instructor information.   

This Banner information is provided to the departments for verification during the DCVP.  The department head and/or a designate are responsible to verify the data provided by Banner and forward it to the BLUE administrator.

Some exceptions apply as follows:

  • Masters Thesis
  • Doctorial Thesis
  • Directed Study
  • Co-op terms

What/who is a department liaison?

Department Liaisons are individuals assigned by the department head and are responsible, in consultation with the department head, to process the verification of the course lists and instructors as provided by Banner (DCVP).

In some departments, they are responsible for entering the departmental questions into the system during the Question Personalization process.

The list of Liaisons is available at http://www.dal.ca/dept/clt/SRI/sri_resources.html

Does Dalhousie use a paper-based evaluation system now?

As of the Fall term of 2012, the Board of Governors and Senior Administration made a decision to eliminate the paper-based course evaluation process throughout the university.

Certain exceptions may occur for TA’s or Lab Assistants who are evaluated through their departments.  Individuals should check with their department if in doubt.

 

Troubleshooting

Instructors

Only some of my students received an email to evaluate my course?

  • Some students may not be registered.
  • he course may be cross-listed and one department may have requested for it not to be evaluated, therefore the students from that department would not receive the invitation.
  • The student has accidentally deleted the link or it is in their SPAM folder
  • The student is checking the wrong email account.  The SRI evaluation can only be accessed through their Dal email account.

Please contact dalsri@dal.ca

How do I know what instructions to give in class when asking students to complete the SRI form?

Each department has an SRI Liaison who can provide you with a copy of the instruction sheet. You can also go to:

http://www.dal.ca/dept/clt/SRI/sri_instructor/directions_instructor.html

The list of SRI Liaison's is available on our website at:

http://www.dal.ca/dept/clt/SRI/sri_resources.html

I was told that classes with less than five registrants would not be evaluated but I noticed that they were included in my Question Personalization process?

Courses with less than 5 registrants should not be included in the invitation process.

Please contact dalsri@dal.ca

How will I get my results?

  • Instructors will be sent a link from BLUE that will direct them to their results page where they can access the reports.
  • If the course was evaluated by OPINIO the results report will also be sent via an email with a PDF file attached.

Is my course being included in the electronic university-wide system (BLUE)?

All courses at Dalhousie are being evaluated on an electronic system. However, some courses are evaluated using an alternative software system called Opinio. This is only done for courses that do not fit the requirements for BLUE.

Why are students receiving multiple emails to evaluate one course?

  • If departments chose to evaluate the Teaching Assistants (TA’s) associated with a course, then students may receive evaluations for the Instructor of Record and the TA’s. 
  • In some cases the department may use the OPINIO system to evaluate the TA’s separately from the university-wide evaluation process. In this case, the forms should identify a departmental contact person and indicate that it is a department evaluation. 
  • In cases where the instructor of record was also listed as the instructor of record for the tutorials, unless the departments removed the tutorials from the BANNER list or changed the person conducting the tutorial sessions, then students will receive multiple evaluations for same instructor.
  • If students have not completed the evaluation form, they will receive 3 reminder emails after the initial invitation to complete the forms.

Are co-op work term courses evaluated?

  • The SRI evaluation is an instructor-based evaluation system and any course without an assigned instructor is not evaluated.
  • However, the BLUE system relies on the Banner data, and therefore, any courses that should not be evaluated must be indicated by the department during the DCVP (department course verification process).

Why were XY courses included in the Fall semester evaluation?

Students register for XY (year-long) courses in the Fall semester and therefore the information is contained in the Banner system at that time.

Therefore…

  • If there are two instructors teaching a XY course – one in the Fall and one in the Winter - then the course should get evaluated in the Fall and in the Winter for each instructor.
  • If the XY course is taught by the same instructor in the Fall and Winter semesters then it should be evaluated in the Winter semester and not be evaluated in the Fall semester
  • Departments should provide the above information during the DCVP (department course verification process).

Do I have to enter the departmental questions separately for each course in our department?

No, there is an option in the Question Personalization (QP) process that allows departmental representatives to process their questions by hitting the “apply all” option.

What should I do if there appears to be courses included in our department list and I think they do not belong to our department?

In some cases a department may organize and offer a course (the Host Department), but an instructor from another department teaches the course. In this case, the Host Department should leave the course on their course list; removing the course would result in the course not being evaluated.

 

Trouble-shooting

Students

Why did I not receive an email to evaluate my course/professor?

  • You are not registered for the course
  • Some courses do not get evaluated; please ask your instructor if his/her class is being evaluated (e.g., directed study, co-op, etc)
  • Courses with less than 5 students registered do not get evaluated
  • The evaluation link will only be sent to your Dalhousie email account; please access your dal account as emails cannot be sent to other accounts
  • Some tutorials/labs are evaluated by your department - please consult your department for details

If you do not fit any of the above exceptions please contact dalsri@dal.ca

When I hit ‘submit’ the first page of the form just reloads – how can I get past the first page?

Please try using a different computer and /or browser.  However, BLUE should be accessible using any mobile device or computer.

If the problem persists please contact dalsri@dal.ca

If I make a mistake and evaluate the wrong course or instructor, can I change it?

If the form has not been submitted, you can use the link to access the evaluation form, change your answers and submit the evaluation.

If the form has been submitted, please contact dalsri@dal.ca and we will un-submit your evaluation form. You will then be able to access the re-set evaluation form and re-submit it.

Can I withdraw my comments after I have submitted the form?

If the form has not been submitted, the evaluation will not be recorded and you can access your evaluation form through the link provided. If you want to change/withdraw your comments you may do so and submit the form by hitting the submit button.

If you have submitted your evaluation form, please contact dalsri@dal.ca and we will un-submit your form. You will then be able to access the re-set evaluation form and re-submit it if you wish.

If I do not provide my permission for the comments to be used in “tenure and promotion and other personnel decisions,” will my instructor read my comments?

  • Whether you provide permission or not, all comments will be accessible to your instructor.
  • If you do not provide permission, only your instructor will see the comments.
  • If you do provide permission, the instructor, department head, and possibly, the dean of the Faculty in which the course is taught will see your comments. These comments can be used for promotion and tenure, and other personnel decisions.

However, under no circumstances will your identifying information be available to instructors or department/Faculty personnel.

If I give permission for the instructor to use my comments can he/she see my name?

The SRI evaluations are confidential.  Student information is not attached to the comments.

What should I do if I have received an evaluation form for a course in which I am not registered?

The BLUE on-line evaluation system uses the university registration information to compile the list of students, courses, and instructors that will be included in the evaluation process.  If you dropped out of a course late in the term and the Banner data is not updated by the time the evaluation opens for students, you may receive an evaluation for a course for which you are not registered.  If this occurs please ensure that you are not officially registered for a course.

Please contact Dalsri.dal.ca to remove your name from our records.

What should I do if I had more than one instructor for my course but I only received an evaluation form for the course coordinator?

The information for the purpose of evaluation is acquired from the university registration data. This data is normally updated by the departments and forwarded to the SRI administrator.

However, if you have not received an evaluation form for an instructor from whom you are taking a course it may be because of one of the following reasons:

  • This can be a result of a change of instructors that we were not made aware of by the department.
  • Some departments also evaluate their TAs using the BLUE system, so make sure that it isn't your Teaching Assistant or Tutorial Leader named on the form.
  • If there is more than one section of that course, you might be registered for a different section.

Please contact dalsri@dal.ca, the course coordinator or the departmental office as soon as possible.

What should I do if the name of my instructor is not the name indicated on the evaluation form?

The information for the purpose of evaluation is acquired from the university registration data. This data is normally updated by the departments and forwarded to the SRI administrator.

However, if you have not received an evaluation form for an instructor from whom you are taking a course it may be because of one of the following reasons:

  • This can be a result of a change of instructors that we were not made aware of by the department.
  • Some departments also evaluate their TAs using the BLUE system, so make sure that it isn't your Teaching Assistant or Tutorial Leader named on the form.
  • If there is more than one section of that course, you might be registered for a different section.

Please contact dalsri@dal.ca, the course coordinator or the departmental office as soon as possible.

I missed the first email – will I still be able to evaluate my courses?

  • If you have not deleted the email, search for any emails from dalsri@dal.ca.
  • Please make sure you are checking your Dalhousie email account.
  • The system will send up to 3 reminders until your form has been submitted. You can use one of these reminders to access the form.

Why have I received more than one evaluation for a course?

Check the names of the instructor on the form; one of them may be for the Teaching Assistant, Lab Instructor, or another Instructor if there is more than one teaching the course.

If none of these conditions apply, please contact dalsri@dal.ca

Why have I received an email for a course that was a directed study course - there was no instruction just guidance. Should I evaluate this course?

Sometimes the department may conduct their own evaluations for these types of courses. Please check with your instructor or department.

If this is not the case, please contact dalsri@dal.ca

What are the dates for completion of the surveys? Can any surveys be submitted after the deadline?

  • The links to the evaluation forms are sent out via Dalhousie email accounts and are available for 2 weeks prior to the last day of classes for the Fall and Winter terms and 1 week prior to the last day of the specific class for the summer term.
  • SRI evaluations cannot be submitted after the evaluation period is over. This is part of the SRI Senate policy.

Why haven’t I received a link to evaluate my tutorials?

  • Some departments do not evaluate tutorials.
  • Some departments run their own evaluations for tutorials that are not part of the university-wide system.

Please contact that department to find out if you will be sent an evaluation for your tutorial session.

What should I do if the instructor listed in the evaluation form is not the instructor teaching the course?

The information entered into the BLUE system is generated through the Registrar’s Banner data and then verified by individual departments through the DCVP (departmental course verification process).

Therefore, if the instructor was not named on the Banner data and a change of instructor was not indicated through the DCVP then the instructor of record would remain as it was in the Banner system.

It is the responsibility of the departments to ensure that the instructor and course lists are correct.

Please contact your department or dalsri@dal.ca