Student Evaluation of Instruction

Original Policy Source APPM Section 2. Item 14.
Policy Approval Authority Faculty Senate
Primary Audience Faculty
Status Active
Effective Adoption Date 12-02-2012
Last Review Date 08-31-2022
Policy Category/Categories Faculty & Academics


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:

  • Faculty development of courses and instructional skills;
  • 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 also 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 courses 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 college council, with the participation of the college student advisory committee, shall create a standard set of questions for use across the college; the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences college council shall be permitted to create three standard sets of questions, due to the college’s size and complexity, to allow for differences across broad disciplinary areas. Each department/program, with approval by faculty vote and appropriate student input, shall be permitted to add their own small number of custom questions to that standard college set, which shall be filed with the college council. Different forms may be established for graduate and undergraduate courses. Online student evaluation of courses is recommended, but not mandatory; The decision to use online or paper evaluation forms shall be determined by faculty vote at the department/program level.

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 Faculty Senate Bylaws, Article, 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 recommended but not mandatory. Departments or programs may choose to establish policy or consistent practices to enhance response rates, but may not allow students to improve their grades by responding (e.g., extra credit for submitting an evaluation).

Addressing Bias

College councils and department personnel committees are urged to discuss and adopt policies to address student evaluation bias in their respective bylaws and personnel policies. This may include limiting, but not eliminating, the weight given to student evaluation of instruction results in tenure, promotion, and annual evaluation processes.

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 purposes will 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 Faculty Senate 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
University Council approved revisions on April 6, 2016
Revised by Faculty Senate, August 31, 2022

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