Paper Evals Phased Out

digital course evaluationsZack Russell // The Torch
After the move to digital course evaluations, student involvement dropped from an estimated 70 percent to 11 percent.

Lane switched from paper to online course evaluations this academic year. The move is estimated to save the school upwards of $100,000 per term, however, Winter Term saw only a fraction of students fill out the digital survey.  

Course evaluations are one of the few ways students can show how they feel about their classes at the end of a term. Changes in technology have made paper evaluations obsolete, forcing Lane to make the switch from paper to digital. The switch has also resulted in a sizeable cost savings to the college, estimated to be anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 per term on employment costs and $7,500 a year on paper.

“We would spend roughly a full manned month scanning them [paper forms] in,” Joseph Colton, Faculty Council co-chair, said.

The faculty hope to see a few positive changes. Instead of pushing evaluations on students at the end of the term, the students have the ability to take the time to provide more honest input online. The system will also allow professors to create customizable questions based on their specific courses. Unlike the paper evaluations, which consisted of 12 standardized questions developed in the early ‘90s. The online evaluations could provide more specific and helpful information than their paper predecessors for designing courses.

Back in 2003, Lane, in an effort to digitize its operations, implemented a new digital system which processed everything from class registrations to employee payroll. The online evaluations system is the most recent step toward this effort.

However, turnout for these online evaluations has been low, with only 10 percent of the student body participating.

“There was a paper response rate of 70 percent because it was during class time,” Craig Taylor, director of Assessment and Planning, said. “The reason it wasn’t 100 [percent] was for the absent students or those who chose not to fill them out.”

Paper evaluations were highly suggested by teachers and completed during class time, which may explain why they had a higher response rate. As the new system catches on, the administration is optimistic that student participation will increase.

“There is an opportunity here that was not available before,” Taylor said. “Ready access through phones to the system will drive up response rates. If professors utilize these tools and students provide feedback then there is room for some positive change.”