Improving SET Response Rates: Synchronous Online Administration as a Tool to Improve Evaluation Quality

  • Trey Standish
  • Jeff A. Joines
  • Karen R. Young
  • Victoria J. Gallagher


Institutions of higher education continue to migrate student evaluations of teaching (SET) from traditional, in-class paper forms to online SETs. Online SETs would favorably compare to paper-and-pencil evaluations were it not for widely reported response rate decreases that cause SET validity concerns stemming from possible nonresponse bias. To combat low response rates, one institution introduced a SET application for mobile devices and piloted formal synchronous classroom time for SET completion. This paper uses the Leverage Salience Theory to estimate the impact of these SET process changes on overall response rates, open-ended question response rates, and open end response word counts. Synchronous class time best improves SET responses when faculty encourage completion on keyboarded devices and provide students SET completion time in the first 15 min of a class meeting. Full support from administrators requires sufficient wireless signal strength, IT infrastructure, and assuring student access to devices for responses clustering around meeting times.


Student evaluation of teaching SET Leverage salience theory Survey Response rate 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.North Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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