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2-Minute Mentor: Using Course Evaluation Data to Improve Your Courses

Course evaluations

  • How can I use the student survey to improve my teaching?
  • Is there a reason to save examples of student work?
  • What is the value of peer observations?

Click below to watch CTE’s 2-Minute Mentor video on this topic:

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Using Course Evaluation Data to Strengthen Your Courses: The Student Survey video transcript (doc)

Three key sources of course evaluation data

College teachers gather data on their own teaching to evaluate their courses and also to represent their teaching to others. The various quantitative and qualitative sources of data available can be summarized into three perspectives:



Data from student surveys can be meaningful, especially when an overall single summary number is avoided. (Research clearly shows that overall summary numbers are not valid indicators of teaching quality.)

Tracking changes across time for results of the student survey and associating them with changes in your teaching is a powerful motivator for continuing to improve and is valued at annual and P&T evaluation times.

With written feedback, avoid the temptation to place too much emphasis on a few negative comments. There will be a variety of perspectives from a class of students, so focus on finding useful suggestions.


A useful peer evaluation is more than someone visiting a class and writing a letter on whether the instructor was clear and students were paying attention.

Ask peers to evaluate your teaching plan, syllabus, course objectives, assessment strategies and time management.

Ask your peer evaluators to write, address and deliver their “report” to you. Talk with them about it.


Consider preparing a course portfolio, which identifies course goals or a particular “problem” to address, what you did to meet the goals or address the problem and, most importantly, your reflections on what was achieved.

Collect samples of student work and reflect on the quality and whether your teaching has an effect on that quality.

Think about your teaching: How do you know whether goals are being met? How have your experiences shaped you as a teacher?

For more information on peer review, please watch the 2-Minute Mentor video below.

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More about using data to improve your teaching

The following links provide more information about course evaluation strategies:

  • The KEEP toolkit provides tools and strategies for evaluating your courses and teaching.
  • This 2-Minute Mentor segment focuses on valid and reliable assessments, a prime source for evidence of whether students are meeting expectations.

Additional materials are available in CTE’s Essential Guide to Teaching.

This portfolio from the CTE gallery is focused on the process of course evaluation and redesign: Using Learning Goals to Guide Course Redesign—Michael Moody.

Some useful articles on using data for course evaluation:

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Support for Fall Flex Teaching!

CTE has created a website for helping faculty create flexible courses that can shift between in-person and online. Visit the Flex Teaching site.