New Course Evaluation System FAQ
Why are you changing the course evaluation system?
Since 2006, online student course evaluations at Stanford have been delivered using the third party software called What Do You Think? (WDYT) provided by CollegeNet. An additional vendor was brought on in 2013 in order to enable customization of the new forms that launched Autumn Quarter 2015. The integration of these two systems and stagnation by CollegeNet has created numerous problems and bugs over the past five years. Further, CollegeNet has stopped selling WDYT to new clients and ceased all new development on the product, which raises significant concerns about their long-term commitment to the product.
Will you be changing the questions on the course feedback forms?
No. The rollout of this new course evaluation system will not be accompanied by fundamental changes to Stanford’s current approach to evaluations nor the standard questions that appear on the forms.
When will the new system be available?
We began using the new system for end-term course evaluations in the Winter, 2021 term.
How are you letting the Stanford community know about the change?
We are in the process of sending targeted communications regarding this transition to key administrative support units, department chairs, and eventually all instructors and TAs. You can also anticipate more announcements in various campus newsletters and the Stanford Report as we get closer to the Winter 2021 rollout.
We plan to begin working directly with departments during the Autumn term to prepare instructors and TAs for Winter course evaluations.
How can our department get additional information?
Please use this request form to ask any additional questions or schedule a time to meet with our team.
How will instructors and TAs/CAs learn how to use the new system?
We will offer a series of kickoff events, workshops, and training opportunities during Autumn Quarter.
Will instructors still be able to add custom questions to their course feedback forms?
Yes. Instructors will still have the opportunity to customize their course evaluation form during weeks four through eight of each term and add their own questions, such as those pertaining to course-specific learning goals. Instructors will also be able to select from a list of standard course elements and add close-ended and open-ended questions, although the mechanism for doing so will be different.
Will instructors still be able to grant proxy access to individuals to be able to add custom questions to their course(s)?
No. Instructors are not able to grant proxy access directly, but we can provide proxy access. If you would like to designate a proxy, or proxies, or if you have your instructor's permission for you to have proxy access to add custom questions for them, please submit this proxy request form.
Will TAs still be able to add questions to their section feedback forms?
Yes. TAs will still be able to select additional questions to include on their feedback forms, and the new system will allow for a longer customization period for TAs/CAs.
How do I access older course evaluation reports?
All course evaluation reports back through 2015 are available in the new system. We are still working with the vendor to import Section/TA reports back through 2015 into the new system. The legacy What Do You Think? system will remain available through the end of June 2022 so you will still have access to the reports there as well. The legacy system can be accessed through this link: Legacy Course Evaluation System. Once all reports back through 2015 are available in the new system and we have sunsetted the legacy system, if you require reports prior to 2015, please contact our group at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can provide them to you.
What was your process for selecting a new course evaluation system?
We investigated four vendors in the commercial course evaluation space. We had each of them respond to how their systems could support 66 functional requirements, which were based on known system requirements and feedback from the Stanford community.
Based on the technical demonstrations, customer interviews, and extensive hands-on testing, we selected the Course Evaluation and Survey platform by Watermark. We selected this vendor based on its ability to build the additional functionality we require, positive feedback from current customers (e.g., Columbia, Brown), more intuitive user interface, and lower cost relative to other options.
Have you tested the new system with Stanford instructors and students?
Yes. We ran a small pilot (8 courses, 13 instructors, 90 students) using the new system for end-term evaluations during the Summer 2020 term. We included a question to gather student feedback on the new system and received very positive feedback. The department administrators and instructors we worked with were also pleased with the system and how the pilot went. A number of students commented about the ease of use, especially the direct link to the feedback forms provided in the email communication from the system.
What are some of the key ways the new system will differ in look, feel, and functionality?
The new system offers a more modern and responsive interface compared to the current system. Accessing the system will be more streamlined through direct links that utilize Stanford’s standard Web Authentication and Authorization (i.e., single sign-on), which will automatically sign users into their account.
- The feedback form can be previewed as it will appear to students.
- Question customization will allow more flexibility in the types of questions that can be asked (e.g., response options will not be limited to presets).
- Standard course elements will still be selected from a set list, although the mechanism for doing this will look different.
- The timeframe for adding custom questions will be much longer than the current 5 days.
- Access to feedback forms will be much more streamlined with direct links in the system email communications and notifications within Canvas.
- Students who have used the new system have indicated it is easier to use and more intuitive and aesthetically pleasing.
For Programs and Departments:
- The new system will give department administrators the ability to easily apply a standard set of customized questions to every course, or a subset of courses, in their program or department.
Key dates for end-term feedback
Check the dates for end-term feedback for the academic year.
Frequently asked questions
Get answers to some common questions.
Key principles of evaluation
Key ideas guiding evaluations and student feedback at Stanford.