Student evaluations

In addition to end-of-semester course evaluations, you can collect mid-semester evaluations to assess how your course is going while it is in progress. You can also check in occasionally with classroom assessment techniques that quickly and easily allow you to assess how students are learning in your classes.

Why use student evaluations?

  • Student evaluations can help you modify, plan, or redesign a course. 
  • When collected mid-semester, student evaluations provide the opportunity to address issues regarding student learning while the course is in progress.
  • Students may appreciate that their experiences in your course matter to you, and they respond well when they feel that their feedback is valued.
  • Student evaluations of teaching are an important way to measure teaching effectiveness and document instructional development for a teaching portfolio or the peer review process.

Considerations for student evaluations

According to a study involving 200 faculty respondents, the following four factors significantly contributed to improvement of teaching as measured by student evaluations (McGowan & Graham, 2009):

  • Engaging in active and practical learning that emphasizes the relevance of course material to students
  • Creating the opportunity for significant teacher/student interactions and conferences that allow instructors to connect with students
  • Emphasizing learning outcomes and setting high expectations
  • Revisions and improvements to how student learning is assessed

What do your student evaluations mean?

Research has shown that reviewing student evaluation data in a follow-up consultation is more likely to result in positive modifications in teaching and course design that can influence future evaluations (Murray, 1997). We recommend contacting the Center for an individual consultation to review and interpret student feedback. 

Getting started with student evaluations

  • Create a plan for when (mid-semester/end-of-semester) and how (online/in class) you will collect student evaluations of your teaching.
  • Create questions that address areas in which you want to receive feedback. Consider modifying existing student evaluation surveys to address your specific needs.
  • Consider collecting student evaluations with an online survey (Cornell supports the survey tool Qualtrics).
  • Schedule a CTI consultation to assist with developing evaluation questions, collecting student feedback on teaching, interpreting evaluation data, and exploring responses to evaluation feedback.


Dommeyer, C. J., Baum, P., & Hanna, R. W. (2002). College students’ attitudes toward methods of collecting teaching evaluations: In-class versus online.  Journal of Education for Business, 78(1), 11–15. 

Dommeyer, C. J., Baum, P., Hanna, R. W., & Chapman, K. S. (2004). Gathering faculty teaching evaluations by in-class and online surveys: Their effects on response rates and evaluations.  Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 29(5), 611-623. 

Murray, H. (1997). Does evaluation of teaching lead to improvement of teaching? International Journal of Academic Development, 2(1), 8-23. 

McGowan, W. R., & Graham, C. R. (2009). Factors contributing to improved teaching performance. Innovative Higher Education, 34(3), 161-171. 

Nulty, D. D. (2008). The adequacy of response rates to online and paper surveys: What can be done? Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 33(3), 301-314.

Svinicki, M., & McKeachie, W. J. (Eds.) (2011). McKeachie’s teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers (13th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.