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U North Carolina Opts for Unit-Adaptable Course Eval System

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is half a year into the use of a new system for handling course evaluations. The institution adopted eXplorance Blue based in part on the software's ability to enable each department to customize the evaluations and allow individual instructors to tack on their own questions as well. The university tested the application in a 2016 pilot and began deploying it in time for evaluations to be done in the spring 2017 semester.

The evaluations are primarily intended to improve instruction, according to the campus, and, secondarily, to provide data for administrative use as part of teaching assessments.

While it's common for even the largest and most decentralized of institutions to use a common evaluation questionnaire, according to Jason Block, program compliance coordinator in the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, that practice tends to dampen student response. To counteract that outcome, the school sought a solution that could standardize course evaluation functionality, such as reporting, while still leaving autonomy in place across the various departments and units to customize the assessment contents. Both faculty and students were enlisted to participate in the selection process.

The new application integrates with the university's PeopleSoft installation and provides users with single-sign-on. Users, such as individual instructors, can log into the program via the institution's portal system, ConnectCarolina, to gain access to a dashboard where they can check response rates and review results. Students receive emails during the semester that provide direct links to the evaluation forms for their courses.

Institutional users of eXplorance software include Delaware State University, Fox Valley Technical College in Wisconsin and the University of California, Berkeley.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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