Student Evaluations of Instruction Go Mobile

SEI Screenshot-border What is there to do when paper is outdated and online just isn’t cutting it? Try mobile! OCIO’s Enterprise Applications team did just that with Student Evaluations of Instruction (SEIs) in an attempt to improve response rates.

When students evaluated their instructors with paper and pencil while sitting in class, the response rate was roughly 80%. However, moving these evaluations to the web drastically cut response rates to 40% since students were asked to complete the online surveys during their own time.

Director of Mobile and Web Apps, Steve Fischer, and Director of Student Applications, Robert Mains, saw an unexplored avenue and jumped right in to see if making things mobile would be an improvement to the current SEI method.

“Instructor evaluations are very important to our faculty,” said Dr. Wayne Carlson, Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education. “We have been very concerned with the lower response rates, and we think mobile could be just the push we need to increase student participation. The Mobile team did a great job with the development of the app, and the mobile SEI worked flawlessly in test classes. We are confident of the strong results that we are getting from the OCIO teams involved in this project.”

Enterprise Applications piloted a version of the SEI accessible through OSU Mobile. This allowed select students to easily complete the forms on their smartphones and tablets while sitting in class. Just as importantly, it gave the Mobile SEI team the opportunity to obtain instant feedback from users.

The EA team is increasing momentum for this undertaking by utilizing the Agile Method of software development. Instead of completing tasks in a linear way, different areas worked simultaneously to roll out the pilot version.

“We developed a high level plan, then broke it down into small tasks that took a week or less to complete,” said Fischer. “We had weekly status updates, and sent out regular test builds of the app so everyone could inspect the project along the way, allowing us to adapt our plan as needed.”

Going forward, continued monitoring and customer feedback will help EA perfect the mobile SEI offering before making it available to all classes for the 2014/2015 academic year.

“All four teams (OSU Mobile, SIS, Integration and University Communications) needed to be involved to envision a solution that was more than the sum of its parts,” said Senior Director of Enterprise Applications, Dave Kieffer. “Innovating solutions with teams of teams, varied skills, cross-organizational communication and a flexible plan are the future of IT. We expect to see more and more of these projects over time, using skills and tools from across the organization.”

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