A woman smiles as she looks at a computer. A man standing near her points to the computer.

Types of Evaluation

How do you know which aspects of your course were best received by your students? Which elements were confusing? What should you change, or keep the same, for your next class?

To answer these questions, thoroughly evaluate your course following each offering. Review each element you’ve included: content, page layout, tools, technology, etc. Make changes according to the data you collect, when the time is right.

It can be tempting to continuously update the course as a semester progresses, but this will potentially confuse students and take your focus away from teaching. Instead, it’s a best practice to keep a log of ideas for improvement, then tackle the bigger changes when the semester is complete. This will also help your time spent to be more efficient. After all, you want the course to be the best it can be.

There are four times you could evaluate your course.


Before the course begins, conduct a pre-assessment to gauge students’ abilities or depth of knowledge.

This can give you great insight into topics your students have already mastered or which might need some additional support.

When should you use a pre-semester evaluation?

Example: You’re teaching a course with pre-requisites and you want to know if students retained knowledge from their previous course.

Sample Pre-course Survey:

Sample Pre-Course Evaluation

Long description for Image 1 Sample Pre-course Survey


Conduct mid-semester evaluations to gauge how your class is responding to the course.

At the halfway point, it can be difficult to make significant changes to the course, but you can get ideas on what to modify for future semesters.

When should you use a mid-semester evaluation?

Example: Over half of your students perform low (Cs and Ds) on a test.

Sample Mid-semester Survey:

Sample Mid-Semester Survey

Long description for Image 2 Sample Pre-course Survey


End-of-course evaluations could be developed by the University or your department, or they could be evaluations you create independently to evaluate course content and functionality.

When should you use a post-semester evaluation?

Example: Conduct a survey to learn if students could easily navigate the course website.

Sample Post-semester Survey:

Sample Post-Semester Evaluation

Long description for Image 3 Sample Pre-course Survey


Use an emergency evaluation when there is a problem interfering with students’ learning. Usually, this is when students can’t access an item such as a reading or test, or a tool stops working.

If it isn’t an emergency, save those changes for after the semester.

When should you use an emergency evaluation?

Example: Your assignment tool is no longer functional.

Sample Emergency Evaluation:

Sample Emergency Email Evaluation

Long description for Image 4 Sample Pre-course Survey


Consider whether your evaluation will be anonymous or if students will give feedback tied to their name. Depending on the type of feedback you’re interested in, an anonymous evaluation may be best.

For example, if you’re conducting a mid-semester evaluation and want honest student feedback on what is and isn’t working in the course, students may be more inclined to be open and provide constructive criticism if they are protected by anonymity.

Alternatively, an emergency evaluation may be offered as an opportunity to receive personally identifiable feedback to determine which students are struggling with something like accessing a video or reading, for example.

Create an Evaluation

Creating surveys is a great way to evaluate the success of various elements of your course. There are lots of free tools available to help you ask the right questions, measure the right responses, and analyze the results.


Here are a few survey resources:


Writing a survey can be a new experience for instructors. Follow best practices to develop surveys that are simple, relevant, and unbiased.

  • Ask 10 questions or fewer
  • Ensure all possible responses are represented
  • Include free response questions; they provide the opportunity for students to share their thoughts
  • Set expectations for the user experience in the survey instructions, such as length of time the survey is anticipated to take
  • Incentives, if it’s possible to offer them, can persuade students to complete a survey
Test Yourself

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