As usual, at the end of period 1 last week, Wageningen students found the digital course survey in their inboxes. Only this one looks different to previous editions. The new evaluation – PaCE – claims to be quicker and easier to fill in that the old EvaSys. But is it really?
Illustration Henk van Ruitenbeek
Melanie van den Bosch, Master’s student of Bioinformatics
‘When I filled in the course evaluation I noticed it took me less time than normal. I thought, ‘am I done already?’ I didn’t know that they had changed it but I noticed that the questions about teachers were much less detailed. That is a pity. The main reason why I fill in the evaluation is to give teachers points for improvement. I don’t think there’ll be a better response rate now that it’s shorter, given than people didn’t make time for it in the first place.’
Maaike Kool, Bachelor’s student of Animal Sciences
‘I filled in the survey in the last period and it had been changed. It did not take as long to fill it in and the questions were clearer. What I found especially useful was that you could select which teachers you had had and fill in the survey for those teachers only. That was already possible before but then you had to click your way through a long list of teachers before you could close the survey. This survey is less time-consuming and I think that makes it less off-putting for a lot of students.
Stan Jansen, Master’s student of Environmental sciences and member of the programme committee for BMW, MUE, MES and MCL
‘As the degree programme officer for the study association Aktief Slip, I have often noticed that students are not very willing to fill in the EvaSys online evaluation. That is why many programme committees have sought and found other ways of evaluating courses. The programme committees for BMW, MUE, MES and MCL have been analysing their courses for years using a separate written evaluation. When I filled in the PaCE evaluation I got a positive surprise. It is easy to fill in because the questions are posed efficiently and the proportion of open to closed questions is good. Nearly all the students I’ve talked to are positive about it. Now students can contribute actively to the quality of their courses, in no more than five minutes.
Robert van der Kraan, Master’s student of Food quality management
‘I have just started my Master’s programme here so I have never filled in the Wageningen course evaluation before. I thought the survey was too long and too detailed and for that reason I didn’t finish it. So in my opinion it would be sensible to shorten it even more: the less time it takes the more people will fill it in. I do think it’s very good that you can evaluate teachers personally.
Antonella van Osnabrugge, Bachelor’s student of International land and water management, student council member for VeSte
‘In the student council we are very positive about the new evaluation system PaCE. The old EvaSys was too long, which meant few students filled it in. That is a pity because a lot is done with the results. A lot of students are not aware of that, whereas it is so important for maintaining and improving the quality of our education. Sadly there still wasn’t any room in the evaluation of last period for questions about the teachers. Because the idea is that teachers can add questions themselves so as to get feedback that is as specific as possible. As student council we think it’s a pity in that sense that PaCE has already been launched. It would have made a better impression if there had been input from the teachers from the start. Now a lot of students don’t know about this aspect of the evaluation. The aim is to work that into the next evaluation, in the hope that students will then be able to see its value.’
Jim Renema, Master’s student of Biotechnology
‘I haven’t been taking courses at Wageningen University for very long but up to now I have always filled in the evaluation for all the courses. If I’m asked for my opinion I am happy to give it. It is nice that it is valued and that there is also space to add optional comments outside the standard questions. The evaluation does not take too long and the questions are clear. It is good that the new version keeps you moving through the teacher evaluations instead of making you plough through a very long list. The new setup gives you much more motivation to keep going. What does surprise me was how soon the evaluation is sent around: even before the exam. At that point you can’t say yet really whether the course met your expectations.’
Anneke Kuijper, Master’s student of Food safety, board member of the Education Institute Wageningen (OWI)
‘The new education evaluation system was developed to make it easier for students to fill in the evaluations. You can even do it on the phone now. It is not for nothing that these improvements have been introduced. Because it really is important that the evaluations are filled in by as many students as possible. The evaluations are not used only by the teachers but also by the programme committees and the education institute. A high response rate is important for the results of the evaluations to be reliable. So I appeal to all students: fill in the evaluations; it doesn’t take much time and the results are very valuable.’