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Potsdam Prepared: Spring 2022 Updates

Course Surveys (a.k.a. Course Evaluations)

SUNY Potsdam facilitates the gathering of student opinion of faculty instruction through Course Surveys delivered via the Course Evaluations & Surveys (CES) online platform. The following course survey policies and procedures have been designed to help foster continuous improvements in teaching effectiveness in order to provide students with the best possible educational experience.

Course Survey Policies

A student’s opinion of faculty instruction, gathered through Course Surveys, serves two purposes:

  • Formative, by providing constructive feedback to the course Instructor.
  • Summative, as evidence of their teaching effectiveness.

Per the SUNY Potsdam Faculty Handbook:

In the consideration of instructional faculty for reappointment, promotion and/or other personnel actions, the College will consider effective teaching as the most important variable used for such consideration. Consequently, while faculty should prepare their files to reflect excellence in all areas of the criteria, particular attention should be paid to documenting effectiveness in teaching. Such documentation may consist of student opinions/evaluations of course(s), supervisory evaluations, and/or peer on or off campus evaluations. Each department should have a process appropriate to that particular discipline for measuring effective teaching. With respect to "evidence of excellence in teaching," such supporting documentation as student opinion/evaluation of course(s), peer on or off campus review and statements of professional goals and objectives should be provided. The Office of the Provost has available a student opinion/evaluation of course(s) form for providing such supporting documentation. The College also considers advising to be an important element of teaching.

Course Surveys through CES:

  • An instructor delivering a course is encouraged to use (but is not required to use) the CES system.
  • These surveys contain ten Standard Campus Survey (PDF) questions.  In addition, an instructor may optionally add “custom” questions.
  • Gathered surveys are considered the property of the course instructor (and can’t be accessed by campus administration without permission).
  • A course instructor (i.e. the instructor of record) may access course surveys only after the final grades for courses are posted (2 weeks after survey closes).
  • Raw survey data (aggregate data) at the school and department levels can be accessed by campus administrators for use in program review and/or accreditation.

How to Request Course Surveys

Course Evaluations & Surveys (CES) online surveys have replaced Scantron and Moodle course evaluations and contain Standard Campus Survey (PDF) questions.  Requests for course surveys are made through BearPAWS and are due three weeks before the last day of classes (also submit the Mid-Semester Course Survey form for courses ending before semester's end). Surveys will be activated and available to students a week before the last day of classes.  Faculty will be able to add “custom” questions to the survey the week before it is activated (adding custom questions is optional).

Students will be prompted to complete surveys when they log in to Moodle and can also use the CES Block on the Dashboard to submit surveys (by scrolling down to the bottom). In addition, links to complete course surveys will be sent to students through reminder emails.

Course Survey requests in BearPAWS

  • Log in to BearPAWS
  • Select Faculty Services tab
  • Select Request Course Surveys (a.k.a. Course Evaluations)
  • Select the current term and Submit button
  • Follow the instructions to select courses (don't skip step 2)
  • Select the Review Request button
  • Submit your request.

You will receive a confirmation email.  If you don’t, you’ve missed a step (likely step 2). Go back to BearPAWS and select the Start Over button to try again.

For training tutorials, please visit the Course Evaluations & Surveys section of Tech Tools and contact if additional support is needed.

In-Class Course Survey Delivery

Once Course Surveys are activated, an instructor may choose to have students complete surveys during a scheduled class meeting (please allow at least 15 minutes for completion).  Before leaving the room, the instructor should read and/or display the following directions:

  • Log in to Moodle, close the CES pop-up window, scroll-down to the CES Block, and select the appropriate link for the course.
  • Answer survey questions to provide your honest opinion of faculty instruction for the course.
  • Take the survey seriously, as responses can help improve the course’s design and delivery (i.e. how the instructor teaches the course).
  • Course Surveys are anonymous and will not be accessible to faculty until final grades are posted.