Penn Course Evaluations
Frequently Asked Questions
 
   

General Questions
Which schools and courses at Penn use Penn Course Evaluations?
How do students access their course evaluations?
How do instructors access reports about their teaching evaluations?


Student Questions
What are the benefits of evaluating my classes?
How do Penn Course Evaluations work?
How are students encouraged to complete their evaluations?
You mean I can't see my grades if I don't fill out an evaluation?
I didn't get my evaluations completed before the end of the evaluation window. Can they be re-opened so that I can provide evaluation data to my instructors?
Can instructors see some evaluations before assigning grades for the class?
How does Penn Course Evaluations protect student anonymity?
What should I do if my professor has asked me to wait to fill out my course evaluation after the exam, but I need to see my transcript now?


Instructor Questions
Who will see my teaching evaluations?
Won't students know their grades before completing evaluations?
What are some best practices for instructors to share final grades with students?
What should I tell my students about Penn Course Evaluations?
My reports don't contain evaluations for my most recently-taught courses. Where are they?
How are the courses chosen for evaluation? Why are some courses not chosen to be evaluated?


General Questions


Which schools and courses at Penn use Penn Course Evaluations?

Ten of Penn's twelve schools use Penn Course Evaluations:

  • Annenberg School for Communication
  • School of Arts & Sciences
  • Penn Dental Medicine
  • Penn Design
  • School of Engineering & Applied Science
  • Graduate School of Education
  • School of Nursing
  • Perelman School of Medicine (Biomedical Graduate Studies)
  • Social Policy & Practice
  • Wharton School

The School of Law, the School of Medicine's MD program, and the School of Veterinary Medicine continue to use their own evaluation systems.



Return to Top


How do students access their course evaluations?

http://www.upenn.edu/eval, login with your PennKey


Return to Top


How do instructors access reports about their teaching evaluations?

http://www.upenn.edu/u@penn, login with your PennKey and select My Course Evaluations from the Student Advising & Admin Resources channel.

Return to Top


Student Questions


What are the benefits of evaluating my classes?

There are three main reasons students should complete course evaluations.

  1. Strengthen teaching at Penn

    Instructors use the course evaluations to improve their teaching. Each instructor receives a compilation of the responses and the comments to use in evaluating their own teaching and planning future courses.

  2. Make Penn Course Review even better

    The student editors of the Penn Course Review use course evaluations to write the guide many students use for choosing classes. So, the greater numbers of evaluations and comments will lead to more detailed information when students are selecting courses.

  3. Assess instruction

    Colleagues, department chairs, Deans, and the Provost use student reviews as a part of the tenure and promotion process. Teaching excellence matters in deciding whether a professor gets promoted and student evaluations are an important part of evaluating a professor’s teaching abilities. For adjunct faculty and graduate student teachers, evaluations are used by department administrators and supervisors to improve performance and make hiring decisions.

Return to Top


How do Penn Course Evaluations work?

Student course enrollments are loaded into the Penn Course Evaluations system for all courses selected by the Schools for evaluation. Students will log in with PennKey and will see a list of evaluations, usually one per section. Students complete the evaluation for each section separately. Students will have the option to save and come back later to complete any given evaluation. Once an evaluation has been submitted, it will no longer be available to the student for changes.

Most evaluations have approximately 20 questions (more if you have additional instructors) and we estimate it will take five to ten minutes to complete.



Return to Top


How are students encouraged to complete their evaluations?

Students receive an announcement via email to let them know once the course evaluations are available. If they do not complete the evaluation, they may receive one or more email reminders until the evaluation period ends.

During the evaluation window (which typically lasts from the last week of the semester until about a day or so after exams), students who have not evaluated their courses will be prompted to do so when they check their grades in Penn In Touch.

Return to Top


You mean I can't see my grades if I don't fill out an evaluation?

No. Students may still access grades without completing an evaluation. When students who have not completed all their course evaluations go online to check their grades through Penn In Touch, they will be prompted to complete their evaluations. However, the evaluation system will have an "opt out" option for each evaluation. Before viewing grades during the evaluation period, students must either complete their evaluations or opt out of their evaluations. All open evaluations must be completed before display of any grades.

Return to Top


I didn't get my evaluations completed before the end of the evaluation window. Can they be re-opened so that I can provide evaluation data to my instructors?

No. In order to preserve the integrity of the evaluation responses, evaluations must be completed within a reasonable period after completion of the course, and before grades are available to students.

Return to Top


Can instructors see some evaluations before assigning grades for the class?

No. Instructors are not able to see reports on their course evaluations for a given semester until after the grade submission period is over for that semester

Return to Top


How does Penn Course Evaluations protect student anonymity?

Although each student uses Pennkey authentication when logging onto the system and the system uses that information to present the proper courses to evaluate, the student’s name and Penn ID are not stored with the evaluation record.

Instructors have access to reports compiling the information from all the evaluations in a course. However, those reports do not present information that could identify an individual. Similarly, a department or school may create reports about an instructor’s or program’s teaching evaluation. Those reports will never present information that could identify an individual. As a general rule, courses with two or fewer students and independent study courses will not be evaluated. Each school will manage the process of selecting which courses are evaluated through the system.

Return to Top


What should I do if my professor has asked me to wait to fill out my course evaluation after the exam, but I need to see my transcript now?

Instructors may request that you wait until the last day of class or the final exam before filling out your evaluation, but students may complete evaluations any time after the start of the evaluation window. If you need to see your transcript, you should complete the evaluation or opt out of the evaluation.

Return to Top


Instructor Questions

Who will see my teaching evaluations?

Instructors will automatically have access to evaluations for course sections where they are listed as the instructor. Program and school administrators will have access to course evaluation reports at the discretion of school administration.

Return to Top


Won't students know their grades before completing evaluations?

No. Students must complete or opt out of all their evaluations before viewing their grades.

Return to Top


What are some best practices for instructors to share final grades with students?

Penn believes that the evaluation data will be of higher quality if instructors limit distribution of the final grades to their students prior to the end of the evaluation period. Many instructors and departments share final grades formally or informally as soon as grading is complete. There is no rule against doing so. However, the fact that students may see grades prior to evaluating a course should lead instructors to carefully consider how they report grades to students.

The only way to guarantee that a student evaluates a course prior to knowing the final grade is if students learn their grade only through the Penn in Touch system.

Instructors who use Blackboard's gradebook to inform students of their grades may wish to turn off the student access to the grades during the evaluation period.

Return to Top


What should I tell my students about Penn Course Evaluations?

The most important way to ensure a good response rate and receive thoughtful feedback from students is to communicate the importance of course evaluations to the success of our academic programs.

Instructors may want to take a few minutes in class to encourage students to complete their evaluations by talking with them about how they use student feedback and the sorts of feedback they find most useful.

Return to Top


My reports don't contain evaluations for my most recently-taught courses. Where are they?

Please check with your school or departmental administrators. There can be multiple reasons: the school may have chosen to exclude a particular course, you may not have been added as an instructor in the registration system in time for the evaluation system to be aware of your teaching assignment, or there may not have been sufficient enrollment in the course for reporting the course evaluation data.

Return to Top


How are the courses chosen for evaluation? Why are some courses not chosen to be evaluated?

The process for organizing the courses for evaluation is managed by administrators in each school.. If you have a question about your course being chosen for evaluation, you should contact your school or departmental administrator.

Return to Top


For more information about the Online Course Evaluation system, please contact:
Rob Nelson, Director for Education in the Office of the Provost at Provost-ed@upenn.edu or 215-898-7225.

Return to Top