(from Stanford University: Evaluation & Research, Student Affairs). Interpret Feedback and Interpreting Your Student Reports. (Note: This article may be of value as you have just received your end-of-semester ICES Online results). As you read through your reports, bear in mind that Stanford’s student course feedback forms are designed to direct students’ attention towards their own learning. The responses should reflect how much and how well students learned in your course. The teaching feedback form, however, directs attention to individual section instructors.
Look for patterns: are the distributions consistent and in the ranges you expect? Are there unusual clusters, such as a “spike,” or a very high and very low grouping? A single mean score can be a few decimal points higher or lower simply due to the random sample of students in a particular course from term to term. An increase or decrease of a few decimal points should not necessarily be interpreted as a significant change. For more information, read our discussion paper on the reliability of evaluation statistics (PDF). Finally, it is common to concentrate on outliers or unique responses, but it is more useful to look for patterns and trends than speculate about an isolated score. Let’s begin with general questions.