George Mason University uses the software Blue by Explorance for student evaluations of teaching (SETs). Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about SET administration at Mason.
- Yes. Instructors can add up to five questions to the evaluations, tailored to the course and term. In addition, starting in spring 2022, there are three optional pre-written use of technology questions that instructors can choose to use for some of their personalized questions.
- Once the question personalization (QP) task has closed in Blue, we are unable to reopen it or extend the deadline.
Administration and Response Rates
- You will be notified by email and Blackboard. There will be a link to Blue for you to view a list of your courses being evaluated for that term. You can also log in to your Blue account to view the default evaluation dates for your courses. Default evaluation dates can also be viewed via the semester administration calendar on our website.
- For full-semester courses, evaluations will open 20 calendar days before the session end date (as listed in Banner) and will close 10 calendar days before the session end date. For part-of-term courses, the evaluations will open 6 calendar days before the session end date (as listed in Banner) and will close 1 day before the session end date. Please refer to the administration schedule on the main SET page.
- Instructors are encouraged to direct requests to their designated Blue supervisor within their unit (e.g., department chair, course coordinators). Each unit decides if, and under what circumstances, they will modify the open and close dates for a course. Evaluation end dates cannot extend past the Banner course end date. OIEP will not make these modifications.
- No, Mason is no longer administering paper evaluations.
- The default evaluation end date is set so evaluations close before the final exam period. This default evaluation end date is based on the course end date as listed in Banner, and the final exam schedule on the Registrar’s website (https://registrar.gmu.edu/calendars/). Instructors are able to request evaluation date modifications from the Blue supervisor in their unit/department, and these modifications must be completed prior to the evaluation opening.
Evaluations are administered before the final exam period to minimize the likelihood that final grades will influence student feedback as per recommended practice and approval by the Effective Teaching Committee of the Mason Faculty Senate.
- Instructor’s student preview accounts in Blackboard does not work. You can view the response rate for your courses by clicking in the response rate monitor link in your email, or by logging directly into Blue.
- No, we are not able to reopen the evaluation in Blue once it has closed. OIEP administers the SET under guidance from the Faculty Senate Effective Teaching Committee which develops SET policies and standards, in conjunction with the Provost. This includes evaluation start and end dates. At their request, student evaluations of teaching are not open during final examination periods. In addition, the tool we use, Blue, requires that to restart an evaluation, the previous administration is eliminated entirely.
Results and Reports
- Reports will be available in Blue 14 days after the course end date as listed in Banner. For exact dates, visit the semester SET Administration Schedule located in the Resources section.
- See the ‘Course Evaluation Results’ section on our main OIEP SET site on how to access reports using Blue or via our archived evaluation site.
- Instructors, deans, department chairs, and course coordinators will have access to the evaluation reports in Blue. Anyone listed as a supervisor in Blue (e.g. deans, department chairs, course coordinators) will have access to all of the evaluations for their unit. Instructors will only have access to their own evaluations.
- Please contact your former department or school/college at Mason to request copies of your past reports. OIEP will not be able to individually send these to you.
- Yes, we have created a results dashboard for campus use. Visit the Student Evaluations of Teaching Response Rates and Results page to access this dashboard.
- It is not possible to release any results early. To assure students that final grades will be submitted before evaluation results are released to instructors, results will be published 14 days after the course end date, which closely aligns with the Registrar’s Office deadlines for submitting final grades (https://registrar.gmu.edu/facultystaff/tools/grading/).
- At least three responses must be submitted in order for a report to be issued. If your course did not receive this minimum requirement, you will see the message “threshold not met”.
- Reports are released based on a determined schedule and not all at the same time. Please visit the semester administration calendar under the resources section of our SET homepage to view report release dates. Once all reports are released, you will see these listed in your Blue account under the reports section.
- No, we will not remove a student’s evaluation after submission, nor edit any negative comments or scores. It is not possible for OIEP to verify the accuracy of student feedback. We recommend contacting your department chair to discuss your concerns about the evaluation in question.
Cross-Listed and Courses with Multiple Instructors
- Yes. Students will be asked to complete separate evaluations for each instructor. Please verify with your department that information is Banner is up to date to ensure the appropriate instructors are evaluated.
- Yes. For that course, the department would need to assign the instructor 0% responsibility as the instructor of record in Banner prior to the evaluations opening.
- Instructors need to add their customized questions to all individual cross-listed sections.
- The total number of students enrolled in all the associated sections of a cross-list combined must be at least 3. Blue displays each section of the cross-list separately in a user’s account, but the final report will be reported as one combined course.
- Across the associated sections of a cross-list, a total of at least three responses must be submitted in order to generate a report.
- No, cross-listed courses are reported as one course, we do not issue separate reports for courses which are cross-listed together.
- OIEP sends a list of current Blue supervisors to units at the beginning of each semester requesting any additions or deletions along with a deadline for submitting the changes. Changes cannot be made in Blue after this process is complete and any subsequent requests will go into effect for the next semester. All requests must be made by the department
- Your access to reports begins in the semester in which you were added. We are not able to retroactively add you to a prior semester. Contact another current supervisor in your department to have them share with you any earlier reports.
- Courses are displayed by part of term/Banner course end dates, and not all courses for your department will display at the same time. Remaining courses offered by your department can be seen approximately two weeks prior to the default evaluation start date.
- Automated Blue emails may be getting filtered by your Outlook mailbox into an ‘Other’ folder instead of your ‘Focused’ folder. To ensure all communications are received, please right-click the message and select ‘Always Move to Focused’ so that all future messages from Blue will be delivered to the ‘Focused’ folder.
Note: Focused Inbox studies the history of your email use, and takes into account the types of messages you receive, the content of those messages, and the users you communicate with the most. It then determines which emails you are most likely to read and respond to and places them on a centralized list. You can then switch between this list and another one, labeled “Other,” containing all of the emails that do not meet its standards. Outlook’s sorting algorithm is not always perfect. By moving certain emails from ‘Other’ to ‘Focused’, Outlook will adjust its algorithm accordingly.
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