What to say to students about completing the survey

December 3, 2012

By Shelley Chapman 

As in all good data collection practice, it is important to frame the feedback-giving experience for the participants. We are often asked what should be said to students about the IDEA survey.

One good place to start is to check out the Directions to Faculty handout, page 4 and step 4. For your convenience, I’ll quote it here:

Step 4: Unless your institution has its own standardized directions, the following instructions to the students should be read aloud:  

Your ratings will be most helpful to the instructor and to the institution if you answer thoughtfully and honestly.  Students sometimes wonder, "If the course was well taught and I learned a lot, should I rate every item high?"  The answer is "No."  IDEA focuses on what the instructor was trying to teach and on what you learned.  As such, an instructor is not expected to do well on every item.  In recognition of this, items not related to this course are not counted in the final evaluation.

Note:  If the data will be used for personnel decisions, the following instructions to the students should  be read aloud:

As student raters, you should also know that the results of your ratings for this class will be included as part of the information used to make decisions about promotion, tenure, or salary increases for this instructor.  Fairness to both the individual and the institution require accurate and honest answers

There are other ways of talking to students about the experience, especially if your institution is piloting or has recently adopted IDEA. Consider these statements (or adaptations of them for your context and culture) as ways of framing the survey experience for your students:

  1. The IDEA Student Ratings survey asks you to reflect upon both the course and your own learning in the course.
  2. While it is not expected for you to make progress on every learning objective (because the course did not target all of them), it is important that you respond to each item thoughtfully.
  3. The IDEA instrument provides feedback to teachers to help them improve their teaching. (Show sample report and point to the “suggested action steps” on page 3).
  4. I value your feedback. In the same way I have been giving you feedback all throughout the course, now I am asking you to give me thoughtful feedback.

Maybe you have ideas you’d like to add. We’d like to hear them! Please add them to the comment section below.

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