Completing student evaluations of courses

All course evaluations must contain feedback from the students. This page presents some methods for collecting such feedback.

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På norsk: Gjennomføre studentevaluering av emne

Methods for student evaluation of courses

Every time a course is held, a course report including student feedback is submitted in KASPER. The most used method at NTNU is reference groups, but other methods are also used depending on the purpose. On this page, we describe the following methods for involving students in evaluation of courses:

  1. Reference group
  2. Survey
  3. Five minute notes
  4. Postbox

Regardless of methods, it is important that you consider proper data management and publication of the resulting documentation.

Reference group

Reference group is the most frequently used method for involving students in evaluation and development of courses at NTNU. The method facilitates close dialogue and cooperation between course coordinator and students throughout the duration of the course. Hence, it is useful for evaluation both during and after the completion of the course.

The course coordinator designates a reference group consisting of at least three of the course's students. In addition to direct feedback to the course coordinator, the reference group’s primary task is to evaluate the course and to write and submit a report. The reference group’s report is an important foundation for the course coordinator’s course report, and is published in full as part of the course report.

How you do it: Wiki - reference groups for students


In order to ensure a representative knowledge foundation, the course coordinator should actively collect feedback from all students in the course at least every three times the course is held. This feedback should be summarized and the documentation uploaded in KASPER as part of the course report.

There are several ways to do this, depending e.g. on the number of students and the focus of the evaluation. The most frequently used method is a digital survey.

Advantages of using surveys

  • All students following a course can make their voice heard
  • Course coordinator may compare feedback results over time
  • Useful for evaluation both during and after the course
  • Provides a starting point for dialogue, in class or with reference group

How you do it: Wiki – create a survey about educational quality for students

Five minute feedback

“Five minute notes” is an easy way to collect information from the students about your teaching. The method is suited for midway-evaluation, and it is useful for getting an impression of the students’ assessment of the learning outcome thus far in the course. By asking the students to list what they have learned so far, you give them the opportunity to review and reflect on their learning outcome. By collecting their answers, you get useful feedback about what they have absorbed.

Some practical advice

  • The evaluation should be done mid-semester, when the students have gained some experience with the course. Enough of the semester should remain, so that the students benefit from adjustments made on basis of the feedback.
  • Announce the evaluation in advance, so that the students may prepare.
  • Make the evaluation a part of the class, reserving a few minutes in the beginning or at the end.
  • For bigger courses, consider asking the students to answer in groups.
  • The students may write their answers on a note that they hand in, or you can use a student response system like Mentimeter.
  • Write a summary of your main findings and use some minutes of the next class to discuss the results with the students. Focus both on any changes you intend to make, and on what the students intend to do.
  • Remember to include your summary and the agreed-upon action points in your course report.

Suggestions for questions:

  • List three things you learned.
  • What did you think was most useful?
  • Was anything unclear?
  • What did you like best?

Alternative suggestions for questions:

  • Please continue with - do more of…
  • Please improve - do less of…
  • This has been useful or helpful for me…
  • This is something I miss…

Harald Øverby from the Department of Telematics has developed an example form for this purpose: One Minute Paper

Postbox (Blackboard or Innsida)

A postbox makes it easy for students to provide feedback on topics they consider important for them. The feedback can be given immediately when students have a positive or negative experience, as opposed to having to wait until asked.

The use of a postbox can not replace the course coordinator’s active collection of feedback, and the resulting feedback is less likely to be representative for the student group. It can however be a good starting point for discussions with the reference group, alternatively with the whole class.

When using a postbox, those who give and those who receive feedback should agree on common guidelines for use. Guidelines can include what topics to give feedback on, how often or when, how the course coordinator can be expected to summarize and use the feedback, how the feedback will be discussed with the students etc.

The course coordinator can also ask students to use the postbox to provide feedback on specific subjects. You can do this throughout the semester or at specific times during the semester.

Many course coordinators find it most convenient to use Blackboard as their postbox.

Alternatively, all courses have their own message channel on Innsida. The course coordinator is the channel administrator, and all students who are signed up for the course are automatically subscribed to the channel. Students can give feedback throughout the semester on the message channel. You can also use this channel to send out surveys or to tell students about other evaluation measures. Wiki - how to use course channels on Innsida

Evaluation of practical training

Several study programmes include practical training as a mandatory learning activity, either as a separate course or as part of a course. The practical training contribute to the students’ fulfilment of the study programme’s overall learning outcome. Hence, education quality in practical training is developed at both course level and study programme level.

Development of education quality in practical training is based on cooperation and dialogue between NTNU’s academic community, the field of practice, and the students. When evaluating courses with practical training, the course coordinator must collect feedback from the students, and normally also from the practical training provider.

The most frequently used methods for collecting feedback from students in practical training, are reference groups and surveys. Feedback from the practical training provider is typically documented through minutes and summaries from dialogue meetings between the parties.

It is the Faculty’s responsibility to organize and document the quality work, ensuring that study programmes that include practical training meet the requirements defined for that particular education. The responsibility for following up the evaluations must also be clearly defined.

Recommended topics in student evaluation

Learning outcomes should govern what students actually work on in the course:

  • Are the learning outcomes relevant and up-to-date?
  • Are they clearly communicated to the students, so that they know what learning outcome to expect from the course?
  • Are the learning outcomes well aligned with the students' parallel and previous courses?
  • How do the students feel about the assigned curriculum?

Teaching activities (lectures, seminars, exercises, labs, etc.) are the students' most important measure of teaching quality:

  • Are the types of teaching activities appropriate?
    • Does each teaching activity enhance student learning?
    • Which teaching activities do students think provide the most learning for each of the teaching goals?
    • Is the teaching research-based?
    • Exercises or essays: appropriate number/frequency, organization, coordination, feedback?
  • Are the levels of difficulty and work load of the course correct?
    • Do all the students have the necessary background?
    • Should the level of difficulty or work load of the course be changed?
    • Are the contents and level of the coursework adapted so that students from different study programmes all learn from the teaching activities?
  • Is the progression of the teaching appropriate?
    • Is the progression of the course at such a level that students feel they learn during lectures/other teaching activities?
    • Is it likely that the students will obtain the learning outcomes by the end of the semester?
  • What about the students' own efforts and motivation?

The form of assessment (examination) should be in accordance with the teaching goals and activities, so that the students are tested in an appropriate manner that contributes to the students' learning.

  • Is the form of assessment in accordance with the teaching goals and activities?
  • Was the assessment in line with what the students expected?
  • Does the assessment activity enhance the students' learning?

To ensure that the assessment/exam is appropriate relative to the teaching goals and activities, it's a good idea to get some feedback from the students after the exam, although this may be difficult. If you don't get feedback from the students during the semester before the course report is made, the feedback may added as a discussion point for the reference group for the next time the course is held.

The learning environment is of great importance to the students' learning outcome:

  • Is the learning environment good?
  • What could be done to improve the learning environment?
  • Is there enough contact between the teachers and students, and is that contact good?
  • Is there enough space in the lecture halls, study halls, computer labs and group rooms?
  • Are the indoor air quality, sound and light good enough?
  • Are students with disabilities given the appropriate facilitation?

See also