Student Evaluation of Instruction

Section II. Item 14.

The policies described here are intended to provide an opportunity for student participation in the course evaluation process. This participation will assist the university in accomplishing two goals:

  1. Faculty development of courses and instructional skills;
  2. Inclusion of data from the evaluation of instruction in the faculty personnel process.

The policies are based on the belief that individual academic departments are best suited to devise, administer, and interpret a system of course evaluations. Alignment of evaluations with the university's student learning outcomes is encouraged. Cooperation across departments or colleges is encouraged where appropriate.

The success of the policies set forth here depends on the care with which they are implemented by students, faculty, and personnel committees. Students are asked to take a conscientious approach to their evaluating task, and to avoid confusing leniency or entertainment with sound instruction. Faculty members are obligated to consider the information gained from the course evaluations in a constructive manner, supportive of appropriate academic requirements and values. Personnel committees are charged with the responsibility of using the results of these evaluations ethically and consistently, considering other appropriate indicators of teaching effectiveness in addition to the student evaluations. Failure on the part of an instructor to administer course evaluations or the use of improper protocol in their administration shall be considered during department and college personnel processes.

Courses to be Evaluated
All sections of offered for NIU credit, in which there is an enrollment of at least 5 students as of the end of the add/drop period, are to be evaluated. The inclusion of workshops or non-credit courses is optional. Departments or instructors may also elect to evaluate some or all of those courses with lower enrollment than those listed above.

Evaluation Form
Each department/program, with approval by faculty vote and appropriate student input, shall adopt a series of questions for the student evaluation of instruction which shall be filed with the college council. The decision to use online or paper evaluation forms will be determined by faculty vote at the department/program level. The college council, with the participation of the college student advisory committee, may establish a standard evaluation form (standard in both content and format) for the entire college. Different forms may be established for graduate and undergraduate courses.

All evaluations, written and electronic, must include the following question, normally at the end of the evaluation: My overall rating of the instructor's effectiveness in meeting the course's stated goals and objectives is:

  • Outstanding = 5
    Very Good = 4
  • Average = 3
    Below Average = 2
  • Inadequate = 1

Additional questions directed toward that same determination can, and should, be included. In constructing this series of questions, departments and colleges are referred to Bylaw of the NIU Constitution, which lists several aspects of effective teaching as defined for the personnel process. In addition, paper and electronic forms shall provide an opportunity for students to offer qualitative feedback on the instructor's effectiveness.

Instructors shall be provided the opportunity to ask questions for that instructor's own use, and may use any evaluation technique considered appropriate, such as adding multiple choice questions or requesting that additional comments be written on the back of the answer sheet or in space provided in electronic evaluations. Student responses to questions (quantitative or qualitative) added by the instructor will be provided only to the instructor and will not be used by the department or college in any way except with the written permission of the instructor.

Administering Procedures
Evaluations shall take place during the last quarter of the semester but not during the final exam period. Each department, with the participation of its student advisory committee, shall establish procedures for distributing, completing, and collecting the paper or electronic questionnaires and then processing and evaluating them. These procedures should be designed to provide for the differing circumstances of day, evening, and extension courses. Instructors shall not be present while the evaluation procedures are taking place but may designate an observer. Online student evaluation of courses is permitted but not mandatory.

Distribution of Results
No data or other material from the evaluation shall be distributed until the final exam period is over and grades have been submitted. The student responses to both the department evaluation and the instructor's additional questions shall be sent to the instructor involved not later than five weeks after the beginning of the subsequent academic term. Student responses, both quantitative and qualitative, to the department evaluation shall be sent through the department chairperson to the personnel committee of the department to be used as an integral but not exclusive component of the personnel process. The explicit written permission of the instructor shall be required for any further distribution of the raw quantitative and qualitative data beyond the department. Requests from departments for data for legitimate research/analysis purposeswill be honored by Testing Services upon approval by the Provost or their designee.

Use of Evaluation Data
It is recognized that determining teacher effectiveness is a difficult task. It is the responsibility of those engaged in personnel decisions to recognize the values and the limitations of student evaluations and to utilize them only in conjunction with all other available indicators. Continual efforts shall be made to enhance the validity and reliability of the evaluation instrument through periodic review.

Implementation of Procedures
It shall be the responsibility of each college council to see that these procedures are being satisfactorily instituted within the college to prevent abuse and to advise departments accordingly.

The University Council shall provide for a review of the above procedures at five-year intervals.


Approved by the University Council, January 31, 1979
Revised by the University Council, April 28, 1982; April 9, 1986 
Reviewed by Ad Hoc Committee of the University Council, 1993-1994 [No changes]
Amended (but not reviewed) by the University Council, May 3, 1995
Revised by the University Council, May 4, 2005; March 30, 2010; April 6, 2011; December 5, 2012; April 6, 2016