Course evaluations are an important tool and can tell you a lot, if designed properly. To create a good course evaluation form, be sure the questions you are asking will get the information you need. Do you want feedback on course content (what is taught), methods used to teach it, structure (organization of the course) or your personal teaching style?

What Do You Want to Know?

Questions about what is being taught include: Was the content of the course what you expected? Was the content clear? What did you learn that was most valuable? Was there something you expected to learn but did not? Did you find the content relevant?

Questions about methods used to teach include: Which class activities did you find the most helpful? Which class activities did you find the least helpful?

Questions about structure include: Was the information presented in a logical way? Did you feel the pace of the course was appropriate? If not, what was wrong? Were you able to participate fully in the course? Were the sessions well scheduled?

Questions about teaching style include: Did the instructor present the materials clearly? Was the instructor well-prepared? What did the instructor do to help you learn better? Which sessions, or part of sessions, were the most interesting? The least interesting?

Pick a Format and Design the Evaluation

Short-answer questions: words tell more than numbers, so questions requiring course participants to write out an answer will tell you more than questions that rate on a scale of 1-6 or 1-10. Questions that cannot be answered with yes/no answers give the most information (e.g. What did the instructor do to help you learn better?).

Rating questions: if you ask participants to rate elements on a numerical scale, be very clear in your instructions about what the numbers mean. Even numbers actually give better results than odd numbers, as they prevent people from just picking the middle number, or "average" answer, to every question.

A combined evaluation uses both types of questions and is a good way to get a lot of general information, plus some in-depth feedback.

Leave plenty of space for participants to write their answers. One way to ensure more complete answers is to ask them to complete a list--for example: Which class activities did you find the most helpful? 1. 2. 3.

Make it anonymous. If you want honest feedback, do not ask course participants to put their names on the evaluations. Find an anonymous way to collect the evaluations; a collections box near the door is one good option.