College Will Not Publish Spring 2020 Course Evaluations, Will Collect Primarily Qualitative Data


The College will administer this semester’s course evaluations in a “different form” to reflect the disruptions wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, Dean of Undergraduate Education Amanda J. Claybaugh and Dean for Faculty Affairs and Planning Nina Zipser announced in an email to faculty Wednesday.

Specifically, the Q survey — which the College administers to students to collect course and instructor feedback each semester — will collect “primarily qualitative” data, and the results will not be made accessible to students. Typically, students rate various aspects of their courses, and their quantitative overall scores are published on an online course catalog alongside select qualitative comments.

“Given the unprecedented disruption this term, we also know that it makes little sense to pursue our normal approach to collecting, sharing, and otherwise using data from the Q survey,” Claybaugh and Zipser wrote in their email. “Just as grading will be done on an emergency basis this semester, the Q survey will also temporarily take a different form.”

Last month, the University moved all courses online and required students to leave campus due to the coronavirus. After the mass dispersal, many students promptly agitated for the College to retool its grading schema to accommodate those in difficult circumstances due to the pandemic.


Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay eventually announced at the end of March that all undergraduates would be graded on an emergency satisfactory-unsatisfactory basis after the Faculty Council unanimously voted in favor of such a system.

According to the Q guide website, questions this spring will ask students to evaluate the on-campus portion of the course as well as their ability to participate in and learn from the course in its remote format. The College will omit questions asking students to rate the course overall and indicate whether they would recommend it to peers, and faculty can add up to five additional, customized questions.

The deans said this feedback would be used to develop “best practices in remote teaching.”

“This semester’s Q will give us an opportunity to document our collective work and to learn from our experiences,” Claybaugh and Zipser wrote.

— Staff writer Kevin R. Chen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kchenx.

—Staff writer Juliet E. Isselbacher can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @julietissel.