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A Quick Guide for Faculty and Administrators

Report Content

  • A summary section of Likert scaled questions including response count, mean, and standard deviation. Additional details are provided and include enrollment total, response ratio, median, and mode.
  • Student responses to open ended questions.
  • Results to additional questions added by the instructor.

Statistical Analysis

When using numerical values assigned to Likert categories such as Strongly disagree (1). Disagree (2), Neutral (3), Agree (4), and Strongly agree (5), be aware that the numbers convey “greater than” or “less than” relationships but the differences between values are not necessarily constant. The difference in value between Strongly Agree and Agree and between Agree and Neutral, for example, are not clear nor is there a shared understanding of these values among raters.

For schools using an “overall effectiveness” question:

It may also be helpful to compare the overall average of the first set of items to the score of the instructor’s overall teaching effectiveness question. The first set of questions ask about specific behaviors whereas this is a general question whereby students can take into consideration other factors that they consider as impacting teaching effectiveness.

Understanding Student Comments

Student comments can provide insights into what worked and what didn’t work well in the class. The challenge in deciphering qualitative data is that they are presented randomly with no order or structure. (Lewis, 2002) Comments often appear unconnected and often do not line up with the numerical data included in the report. Here are some ways to make sense of the data and extract meaningful information:

  • Classify comments – use a matrix and assign each comment to a category. Classify comments into strengths and challenges, for instance.
  • Or use our coding template organize student comments into “keep,” “stop,” and “suggestions” categories.
  • Look for patterns – once you’ve classified the comments, examine whether patterns exist. Have all or most of the comments fallen into one or two categories?
  • Don’t place emphasis on the outliers – Unfortunately, sometimes students can be harsh critics. Reading negative or cruel comments is difficult but don’t dwell on one or two comments that are disrespectful or hurtful. 

For administrators: Consider trends in results over time.

  • OMETs should be one of several methods of assessing teaching. Consider conducting additional measures like peer observations, review of teaching materials, and faculty self-assessments. For more information, visit the Teaching Center’s Assessment of Teaching site.
  • Examine trends in OMET results across time. Avoid relying on a single course or mean semester rating, examining small variations in ratings too closely, or focusing on anomalies.
  • Small variations in ratings (<0.4 points) are common and should not be overinterpreted. A variety of factors outside of a faculty member’s teaching, including chance, could lead to a slight dip in ratings.
  • In addition to mean ratings, consider distribution of ratings across the scale. Student ratings rarely have a normal distribution, which makes the mean a less than ideal measure of central tendency without examining the entire distribution of ratings.
  • Do not compare ratings of one faculty member to ratings of other faculty or to a unit average rating.

Comparing ratings between faculty can lead to overinterpretation of small variations in ratings and can place minoritized instructors (who receive more ratings influenced by students’ biases) at a disadvantage.

For faculty: Develop a plan using your student opinion of teaching results.

  • Meet with a Teaching Consultant who can help you interpret your results and develop a course of action if necessary. Email teaching@pitt.edu to set up a consultation.
  • Plan on collecting student feedback during the semester the next time you teach. OMET offers a midterm course survey option and there are additional ways to collect student feedback throughout the term. For more information, go to the OMET Midterm Course Survey section of the Teaching Center website
  • In the future, discuss, teach, and model giving meaningful feedback with your students. Give them multiple opportunities to practice giving feedback. We have several resources that can help guide the discussion and options for gathering student feedback throughout the term.
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