Student Ratings of Instruction

Student ratings of instruction (also known as student evaluations of teaching or course evaluations) are the most commonly used method for evaluating and getting feedback on teaching, as well as one of the most studied topics in higher education. Despite their ubiquity, misperceptions about ratings and problematic use of their results are common in the academy. This page provides resources specific to U-M’s online ratings system, overviews of the research on this topic, and suggestions for using student ratings results effectively, both for improvement and evaluation. To set up an appointment with a CRLT consultant to discuss results of your student ratings, complete our consultation request form.

While research indicates that ratings do provide one useful source of data about teaching quality, there is also widespread agreement that they should never be used in isolation. CRLT’s page on the evaluation of teaching offers an overview of best practices for teaching evaluation, as well as information about other sources of data, such as peer review.

U-M Office of the Registrar: Student Ratings
The Registrar's Office runs the U-M online student ratings system. Their website has information on selecting questions, a list of key dates for the evaluation process, answers to frequently asked questions, and data on response rates across campus.

Providing Helpful Feedback to Your Instructor: A Handout for Students
A one-page handout instructors can give to students that explains the key features of helpful written feedback on student ratings. These include addressing comments to the instructor, being specific, and avoiding comments not related to learning (e.g., comments about appearance or insults).

Summaries of the Research
Summary of Student Ratings Research (Benton & Cashin, 2012, IDEA Center)
Frequently Asked Questions About Student Ratings: Summary of Research Findings (CRLT)
Course evaluations at Michigan: What do we know? (LaVaque-Manty & Cotrell, 2015)

Using Student Ratings Data
Making Sense of Student Evaluations: Using Results to Improve Your Teaching (Reihman, Lehigh University)
Using Student Evaluations to Help Students Learn (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis)
Making Sense (and Use) of Student Written Comments (Lewis)
Best Practices for Using Teaching Evaluations in Personnel Decisions (CRLT)