Studies at other universities have shown that errors are less likely on Web-based course evaluations and open-ended responses are generally more complete. Consequently, Web-based evaluations typically generate better data than paper. In addition, data collected by Web-based evaluations are immediately available to faculty and administrators. Studies also seem to indicate that Web-based evaluations do not produce lower response rates or biased results.
Cost savings in equipment, paper, and faculty or staff time are significant, but cost savings are not the primary motive for moving to Web-based course evaluations. The primary motive is increased efficiency and effectiveness in data collection and analysis of results, as well as the ability to customize surveys and analyze data across colleges and departments. Because Web-based evaluation results are available immediately, they can be used formatively to impact teaching and learning.
Based on the potential benefits, Faculty Council charged the Faculty Academic Policy and Standards Committee (FITSAC) with conducting a pilot study to determine if Web-based course evaluations are appropriate for UNC Charlotte. FITSAC appointed an Electronic Course Evaluations Subcommittee to plan and oversee the study, which was conducted during the Spring 2011 semester.
Research on Web-based course evaluations was also conducted prior to the Spring 2011 pilot study. In 2008, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) established a Task Force on the Evaluation of Teaching. In May of that year, the task force published a final report that included recommendations regarding the adoption of Web-based course evaluations. In February of 2009, the Faculty Academic Policy and Standards Committee (FAPSC) met to consider three specific motions filed by CLAS, including a motion that would allow colleges to utilize Web-based course evaluations. FAPSC recommended the adoption of this motion with added conditions, as described in their memorandum to the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC) Chair.