IDEA FAQs

Frequently Asked Question about the IDEA student ratings of instruction:


What questions are on the IDEA form?

You can see the 18 IDEA Learning Essentials (formerly known as the short form) items or the 40 Diagnostic Feedback items at the IDEA Center website. The College has designed sets of required additional questions for traditional undergraduate courses, online undergraduate courses, team-taught courses, field/internship courses and graduate courses.

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Can I add my own questions to the IDEA form?

Yes you can! And it's highly recommended that you do. Make the IDEA report more meaningful by adding your own open-ended or multiple choice questions to the survey for your course. Learn how to add your own questions to the IDEA survey form at the Campus Labs Course Evaluations Help Center.

Take a look at the following IDEA Center guides for suggestions related to Using Additional Questions and Using Additional Questions for Online Courses.

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How do I administer the IDEA survey?

On-campus courses:

Students are required to take the IDEA survey in class during a two-week period that falls at about weeks 12-13 in a 15-week semester. Students will need to have access to a computer, tablet or smart phone in order to take the survey in your classroom. (You can ask students to bring their own device and/or borrow a laptop cart or Chromebook pack if you are not teaching in a computer lab.) You will read or improvise on the in-class instructions, share the IDEA-Campus Labs evaluation url (https://champlain.campuslabs.com/courseeval) with your students and ask them to take the survey during the first 20 minutes of a class period that falls within the two-week period. See these step-by-step instructions for details on how to plan ahead for online administration of the IDEA survey in the classroom.

CPS Online Undergraduate and Graduate courses:

CPS Online students are required to take the IDEA survey on their own during a one-to-two-week period that falls at the end of the semester. Students will be notified of the availability of the survey through automated email reminders generated by the IDEA system, and they will have access to the survey through a module built into your Canvas course by eLearning. In addition to the IDEA survey link (https://champlain.campuslabs.com/courseeval), the module includes a "quiz" that students can take which indicates that they have completed the survey. Students receive a 1% grade increase through the Canvas gradebook upon completion of the quiz. Please encourage your students to participate. A high level of participation will ensure that the results you receive are useful and meaningful to you.

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When my students go to the portal what do they see and what do I tell them to do?

Students will see the current, upcoming, submitted and closed surveys for courses in which they are currently enrolled or have been enrolled. Ask students to click on the "Start" button for your course. Go to the Campus Labs Course Evaluations Help Center to see how students access the ratings survey.

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When I go to the student portal, I don't see anything. Why not?

The new IDEA-CL system is a relational database that connects course section data to people based on their roles in the system (instructor, student, dean, program director, etc.). When a person logs into any one of the IDEA-CL portals--student (course eval), faculty or administrator--the site is authenticated to that individual, and the data related to that individual populates the dashboard.

The student portal is populated based on the enrollment data of the person who logs into it. If you are not enrolled in any classes, you see nothing when you log into the student portal. If a student logs into the student portal, s/he sees the classes in which s/he is enrolled. This post shows what the student view looks like and explains how the student uses it. If the student logs into the faculty portal, s/he will see nothing. If you log in, you will see the IDEA surveys that were set up for courses you teach.

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How do I get students to give thoughtful responses?

Communicate to students. Students need to learn why and how we use their feedback, and it is up to us to teach them. In addition we need to teach them how to give good feedback. Madeleine Elfenbein provides useful guidance for this teaching in her recent Inside Higher Ed article.1

  • Your feedback matters.

  • This is how I use your feedback to improve my teaching.

  • The best feedback is specific and relevant to my teaching.

  • Gendered praise is not helpful.

  • Evaluate me the same way you would like me to evaluate you.

  • Writing evaluations is hard, but it's for the greater good.

Prompt thoughtfulness. Devise and use your own custom questions on the IDEA survey to get the best feedback. Design open-ended questions that are direct and to the point, which ask about specific teaching methods, tools (did the textbook help you learn?) or activities. Ask directly about something you could improve.

1Teaching Students to Evaluate Us Better by Madeleine Elfenbein, Inside Higher Ed, October 1, 2015

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I am teaching an on-campus course; how do I share the survey url with my students?

In the old system, you shared a long, complicated unique url with your students for each section. Now students have a single point of entry for all of their IDEA course surveys. To administer the survey, set aside 20 minutes of class time during the designated two-week survey period. Read (or improvise on) the in-class instructions and ask students to access your course survey through the CL student portal.

Campus Labs Student Portal: https://champlain.campuslabs.com/courseeval

Please Note: For on-campus undergraduate courses, the survey must be administered during class time. Students may not receive points toward their grade, extra credit or otherwise, for taking the IDEA survey.

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I'm teaching in a computer lab. Can my students use the lab computers to take the IDEA survey?

Yes. Of course they can.

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I'm teaching in a regular classroom, not computer lab. What if my students don't all have a laptop to take the survey online during class time?

The new survey interface is designed to work on a mobile device, so students can easily take the survey using a smart phone. You also can borrow some net books or laptops to bring to class. If you would like to reserve a bag of eight Chrome Books, look for an email from the Campus Coordinator, Ellen Zeman, that directs you to an online sign-up sheet (through Sign-up Genius).

To find out how to borrow or become certified to use the laptop carts, located in Joyce and Ireland, contact someone in support services through Champ Support.

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Can students use their smart phones to take the IDEA survey?

Yes! The Campus Labs interface is designed for access by laptops, tablets and mobile devices.

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I am teaching a team-taught course; how does the IDEA survey work in this situation?

In team-taught courses we generally offer students a separate survey (the 40-item Diagnostic Feedback survey with institutional add-on questions related to team-teaching) for each of the instructors. If you or your program director would like to administer the survey differently in your team-taught course contact the on-campus coordinator, Ellen Zeman, to arrange the specified survey set-up.

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I am teaching a field or internship course; how does the IDEA survey work in this situation?

In field-experience and internship courses we offer students the 18-item Learning Essentials survey with institutional add-on questions related to field/internship experience. If you or your program director would like to administer the survey differently in your field or internship course, contact the on-campus coordinator, Ellen Zeman, to arrange the specified survey set-up.

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I am teaching a hybrid course; how does the IDEA survey work in this situation?

In hybrid (a mixture of online and face-to-face) courses students complete the 18-item Learning Essentials survey with institutional add-on questions related to the hybrid learning experience. If you or your program director would like to administer the survey differently in your field or internship course, contact the on-campus coordinator, Ellen Zeman to arrange the specified survey set-up.

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I am teaching a CPS online course; how does the IDEA survey work in this situation?

In CPS online courses students complete the 40-item Diagnostic Feedback survey with institutional add-on questions related to the online learning experience. Students will be notified of the availability of the survey through automated emails from the Campus Labs system, and they will have access to the survey through a module built into your Canvas course by eLearning. In addition to the IDEA survey link, the module includes a "quiz" that students can take to indicate that they have completed the survey. Students receive a 1% grade increase in the Canvas gradebook upon completion of the quiz. Please encourage your students to participate. A high level of participation will ensure that your results are useful and meaningful to you.

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I am teaching a graduate course; how does the IDEA survey work in this situation?

In graduate courses students complete the 40-item Diagnostic Feedbacksurvey with institutional add-on questions related to the graduate learning experience. Students will be notified of the survey through automated email reminders generated by the Campus Labs system, and they will have access to the survey through a module built into your Canvas course by eLearning. In addition to the IDEA survey link, the module includes a "quiz" that students can take to indicate that they have completed the survey. Students receive a 1% grade increase in the Canvas gradebook upon completion of the quiz. Please encourage your students to participate. A high level of participation will ensure that your results are useful and meaningful to you.

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How are IDEA survey results used in my performance evaluation?

Data from the IDEA results contribute in part to your performance evaluation as a member of the Champlain College faculty. Remember that your interpretation of the IDEA results and the classroom experience are vital to any evaluation process. For help interpreting IDEA results, contact your Dean or Program Director. For more in-depth interpretation or action planning, contact Rebecca Mills, Director for Instructional Practice in the Center for Learning and Technology or Ellen Zeman, Learning Assessment Director.

For more information on faculty performance evaluation, see the Faculty Handbook (page 53).

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Can I use the paper form to administer the IDEA survey?

No. The IDEA survey went paperless at Champlain in fall 2014. The College no longer has the administrative resources needed to support paper surveys. The all-online system will save paper, lower costs and shorten the time between the completion of survey administration and receipt of processed reports. Students generally prefer taking the survey online and tend to give more substantive comments when typing (as opposed to hand writing).

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How do I choose learning objectives for my course?

Because the IDEA system defines effective teaching in terms of progress (learning) on the objectives particular to each course, it is crucial that thoughtful consideration be given to the selection of "Essential" and "Important" objectives on the Faculty Information Form. By choosing the learning objectives, you have the opportunity to declare your teaching objectives for this particular class. Remember to choose only those 3-5 objectives that are most relevant to the course. To determine relevance, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is this a significant part of the course?
  2. Do I do something specific to help the students accomplish this objective?
  3. Does the student's progress on this objective affect his or her grade?

Be sure to check with your Dean, Program Director or hiring faculty to see if they have instructions for you regarding the selection of learning objectives. For more information on choosing relevant objectives, see these guidelines from the IDEA Center: Choosing IDEA Objectives.

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Why is it important to choose objectives?

Choosing relevant objectives allows measurement of the amount of progress students make on learning outcomes emphasized by you, the instructor, in this class. Students' responses on their progress on those objectives become the primary criteria by which course instruction is evaluated. Student ratings of their progress on these objectives are reported as a single score, Progress on Relative Objectives (PRO), which combines the results of all objectives you selected as "Important" or "Essential." "Essential" objectives are double weighted. They count twice as much as "Important" objectives in the calculation of Progress on Relevant Objectives. Minor objectives are not included in the PRO measure (weighted "0").

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What are the IDEA Learning Objectives?

In 2016, the IDEA instrument moved from 12 to 13 Learning Objectives. The new Learning Objectives can be found on this sample Learning Objectives Selection Form.

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What happens to my IDEA surveys after the students take them?

IDEA surveys are compiled and processed by Campus Labs (Buffalo, NY) through formative feedback algorithms designed by the IDEA Center (Manhattan, KS) soon after completion of the survey period. Within one to two weeks after the end of the survey period (after grades are posted) your report(s) will be available to you through the IDEA-CL Faculty Portal. Remember that your interpretation of the IDEA results and classroom experience are vital to any evaluation or goal-setting process. For help interpreting IDEA results, contact your Dean or Program Director. For more in-depth interpretation or action planning, contact Rebecca Mills, Director for Instructional Practice in the Center for Learning and Technology or Ellen Zeman, Learning Assessment Director.

The College also receives raw survey data and aggregated survey data (item averages for each course section), which are analyzed by an Academic Affairs research analyst. These data do not contain student identifiers. Analyzed results are used to calculate institutional benchmarks of academic excellence and to inform (in small part) Deans and the Provost in determining how best to support teaching and learning. The IDEA Center produces summary data reports for the College: one for each Division, for CPS, for each study-abroad campus, for graduate studies and for traditional undergraduate studies. These reports provide a wealth of information on students' perception of their learning progress. If you would like a copy of any group summary report, ask the IDEA on-campus coordinator (Ellen Zeman) or your division's Operations Manager.

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What can I learn from my IDEA section reports?

IDEA-CL is a standardized ratings system. Like any standardized test, the IDEA Student Ratings Instrument is valid for answering certain questions and not for others. The diagnostic report that derives from student responses to your course survey is designed to help you answer these general questions:

  • Did my design or plan for this course work?

  • Did my students think they were learning what I thought I was teaching?

  • Did I use methods that supported my goals?

as well as these more specific questions about your course:

  • Overall, how effectively was this class taught?

  • How do these ratings compare with the ratings of other teachers?

  • Was I more successful in facilitating progress on some class objectives than on others?

  • How can I make instruction more effective?

  • Do some salient characteristics of this class and its students have implications for instruction?

Your IDEA results comprise just one piece of evidence about students' experience in your class. If the response rate for the class is above 60% or so, the evidence is considered reliable. Remember, however, that this evidence is valid only to a degree and also that it is indirect; it is based on student perception and not expert judgement. Thus, the data need to be interpreted in context and alongside other sources of evidence such as student performance, peer consultation and your own observations of and reflections about the class.

Campus Labs Faculty Portal: https://champlain.campuslabs.com/faculty

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How can I use my IDEA results to inform my teaching?

For help interpreting IDEA results, contact your Dean or Program Director. For more in-depth interpretation or action planning, contact Rebecca Mills, Director for Instructional Practice in the Center for Learning and Technology or Ellen Zeman, Learning Assessment Director. The IDEA Center and the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education (POD) offer a wealth of research-based resources:

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What is the "adjusted score" on my section report?

Most of the time at Champlain the adjustment calculation lowers the score, so we tend to ignore the adjustment. However, if your adjusted score is higher than the raw score, that is worth taking note of.

The purpose of the adjusted score is to "level the playing field" when sections from different disciplines, delivery methods or class sizes are compared. Because we generally have small class sizes and don't do much comparing among courses, we (administration and institutional research) don't use the adjusted scores. The adjusted scores are meant to take into account those factors that can affect learning that are beyond the control of the instructor in the course. Factors that go into the adjustment calculation are:

  • Class size: Score is adjusted up for large classes, down for small classes

  • Student motivation: Score is adjusted up if students aren't fired up to take the course

  • Course difficulty: Score is adjusted up if course is perceived as difficult

  • Student effort: Score is adjusted up if students put in lower than average effort in this course

  • Work habits: Score is adjusted down if most students in class generally tend to work hard in all of their classes

In your interpretation of the scores as evidence of your own teaching effectiveness, you can "take credit" for a higher adjusted score, because in your case, one or more of the factors listed above may be making it more difficult for you to achieve a score that is high enough to reflect your true teaching effectiveness on the raw score.

NEW IN 2016:

In previous versions of the IDEA Student Ratings of Instruction (SRI) System, adjusted scores could raise or lower scores. With the updated version of the SRI, scores will only be adjusted upward.The IDEA Center's rationale for this change derives from research on teacher self-efficacy and expectancy.

To learn more about adjusted scores, see this infographic from The IDEA Center. If you have further questions, contact the on-campus coordinator, Ellen Zeman.

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Are the IDEA surveys anonymous?

Yes and no. You can reassure your students that, yes, student surveys are anonymous. There is no way for any person on campus to know how an individual student responded to the survey. In other words, we cannot connect responses to respondents. The IDEA on-campus coordinator (Ellen Zeman) has the ability to know if a student has or has not responded to an online IDEA survey, but cannot view the contents of an individual's survey. Wedo not share specific information about who has or has not responded with instructors, although we can share response rate. Students should also know that instructors receive IDEA results (the section report and comments) only after grades have been submitted.

The story is not so simple for instructors. Survey responses are analyzed by algorithms designed by the IDEA Center in Manhattan, Kansas and software developed by Campus Labs. Instructors can log into the Campus Labs faculty portal (https://champlain.campuslabs.com/faculty) to access survey results for each section taught. Results are available to instructors several days after grades are due. Deans have access to individual section reports for all faculty in their divisions. Program Directors have access to individual reports for adjunct faculty in their programs, but do not have access to full-time faculty reports. It is the policy of the Academic Affairs Office that individual IDEA results are not shared beyond the person responsible for hiring and evaluating an instructor.

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