Vice Provost Academic

Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching

Female Professor teaching

In the 2016-2017 academic year, Western moved from paper to online Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching (SQCT). This move was brought forward by the Joint Working Group (Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching), established in 2015 to review recommendations of the Joint Subcommittee on Student Evaluations of Teaching (2008).

Online questionnaires using eXplorance software has allowed Western to obtain higher quality data, contribute to environmental sustainability efforts, and offer students more flexibility in providing feedback. Further, the software supports the customization of the feedback process. In the 2017-2018 academic year, functionality was introduced to enable interested instructors to use the feedback system for a Midterm Check In (i.e., to collect midterm feedback).  Additionally, instructors are able to select two supplemental questions from a pool of items to add to their end-of-course SQCT.

The 2015 Joint Working Group also recommended that a committee review and revise the questionnaire.  As a result of this review, the revised questionnaire is somewhat shorter, leaving room for supplementary questions, and includes modified instructions to provide students with more guidance on completing the questionnaire.  Also, the rating scale is revised to reflect agreement with the core SQCT questions and the committee ensured that the questions are relevant to different course formats (e.g., face-to-face, blended, online). For a comparison of the two questionnaires, click here.

Students are critical partners in the teaching and learning experience at Western, and feedback obtained via these questionnaires is used to improve courses, enhance the overall learning experience, recognize excellence in teaching, help students in future course selection, and inform program development. It is also considered in regular faculty review, including promotion and tenure decisions.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why did Western move the Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching online?

  • A Joint Working Group (Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching) with faculty, staff and student representation was established in 2015 to review the recommendations of the Joint Subcommittee on Student Evaluations of Teaching, 2008. This Working Group recommended that the option of moving questionnaires online should be explored.
  • Online questionnaires provide the opportunity for higher quality data.
  • Compared to paper, online questionnaires are more environmentally sustainable.
  • The experiences of other postsecondary institutions with the eXplorance software has demonstrated its viability, functionality and flexibility, particularly in terms of allowing for formative feedback.

2. How has the shift to online questionnaires affected the overall response rate? 

  • The overall online response rates were slightly higher than the corresponding paper response rates in the 2015/2016 academic year. The online response rates were 61% and 58% for fall 2016 and winter 2017 respectively; they were 60% and 56% in the 2015/2016 academic year.

3. How and why was eXplorance chosen?

  • eXplorance, a leader in this field, was chosen through Western's normal Request for Proposal (RFP) process and is used by many other Canadian universities.
  • The eXplorance software:
    - is designed specifically for online questionnaires - it's not just a system based on translating paper forms into digital
    - uses an interface that is fully accessible to all end-users, regardless of physical abilities
    - has additional functionality that could be used in the future, including tools to help faculty better understand their class, such as informal questionnaires and data gathering
  • eXplorance also allows Western to store data locally on our own servers.

4. Have the actual questions changed? If not, is this something Western is planning for the future?

  • As of Fall 2017, interested instructors will have the opportunity to use the feedback system for a Midterm Check In (i.e., to collect midterm feedback), which studies show can help lead to more positive responses on end-of-course questionnaires.
  • Instructors also have the opportunity to add two supplemental questions from a pool of items to their end-of-course SQCT.
  • Western established a Working Group on Student Questionnaires on Courses and which consists of the following members: John Doerksen (Vice-Provost - Academic Programs), Michael Atkinson (Psychology), David Bellhouse (Statistical & Actuarial Sciences), Nanda Dimitrov (Teaching Support Centre), Susan Knabe (Faculty of Information & Media Studies); and Ken N. Meadows (Teaching Support Centre). The mandate of this Working Group, as informed by the final report from the Joint Subcommittee on Student Evaluations of Teaching (2008) and the report and recommendations from the Joint Working Group: Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching (2015), was to review and revise the questions included in the current instrument. The revised questionnaire is somewhat shorter, leaving room for supplementary questions, and includes modified instructions to provide students with more guidance on completing the questionnaire. Also, the rating scale is revised to reflect agreement with the core SQCT questions and the committee ensured that the questions are relevant to different course formats (e.g., face-to-face, blended, online). For a comparison of the two questionnaires, click here.

5. How are Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching used at Western?

  • At Western, student feedback is used to improve courses, enhance the student learning experience, recognize excellence in teaching, help students in future course selection, and inform program development.
  • It is also considered in regular faculty review, including promotion and tenure decisions.

6. Why is it important for students to complete these questionnaires?

  • Students are critical partners in the teaching and learning experience at Western, and their feedback is central to that process.
  • Providing feedback on the student questionnaires is an opportunity for students to support excellence in course instruction and design, contributing to the quality educational experience at Western.

7. Are students' responses on the online version of the Student Questionnaire on Courses and Teaching anonymous?

  • Students log into the eXplorance system to provide feedback on the courses in which they are registered but their responses are anonymized by the system such that Instructors, Chairs, and Deans would never be able to identify who provided the feedback.

8. Who can I contact if I have questions about Student Questionnaires on Courses and Teaching?