There et al. 2002). As examples, Watt et al.

There are many advantages associated with the use of
information technology to support

approaches to evaluation (Dommeyer et al., 2004; Salmon et
al. 2004; Watt et al. 2002). As

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examples, Watt et al. (2002) note that ‘using web-based
evaluation questionnaires can bypass

many of the bottlenecks in the evaluation system (e.g. data
entry and administration) and

move to a more “just in time” evaluation model’ (327).
Another advantage is avoiding the

need to administer surveys in class (Dommeyer et al. 2004).
Unsurprisingly, there is increasing

growth in the use of web-based surveying for course and
teaching evaluation (Hastie &

Palmer 1997; Seal & Przasnyski 2001). This growth is
happening despite concerns from

students (e.g. regarding confidentiality and ease of use)
(Dommeyer, Baum & Hanna 2002),

and concerns from staff (e.g. about the adequacy of response
rates) (Dommeyer, Baum

et al. 2002)

The web-based approach offers a distinct advantage when the
institution wants the

flexibility of using different survey questions for
different courses. The online survey instruments

can be revised and modified with relative ease. Researchers
have documented the advantages

of this method where course-specific survey instruments are

needed to determine the achievement of learning goals
(McGourty ,Scales & Thorpe,

2002). These researchers report that Columbia University
makes survey results available to

students to help them select the faculty whose teaching
methods best match

students’ learning styles.

Because the web-based method requires a very small number of
steps that need significant

human intervention, the results become available faster,
providing the opportunity to administer

surveys more frequently during the term. The great advantage
is that

the results from interim surveys can be used to modify the
course materials and teaching

methods while the course is in progress.

A major concern with the web-based approach is the
possibility of low response rates

and unmeasurable nonresponse bias. Cummings and Ballantyne
(1999) and Hmieleski

(2000) indicate lower response rates for the web-based
approach compared with the

paper-based approach. Hmieleski and Champagne (2000)
reported on an Interactive

and Distance Education Assessment Laboratory survey of the
United States’ 200 most

wired campuses. They state that out of the 105 responding
institutions, 67%

indicated a return rate of 70% or more for paper-based
surveys and the remaining

institutions indicated return rates of 20 to over 90% for
web-based surveys. McGourty

et al (2002) and Thorpe (2002) report that student sex,
class standing and cumulative GPA are good predictors of student participation
in the course survey process. They
state that female students completed a higher percentage of the surveys than
Under the web-based method, the system authenticates the students using the
authentication mechanisms as those used for university emails or online
The authentication is necessary to ensure that each student provides feedback
once, and those students who are properly registered in that particular section
provide feedback for each course section. The web-based approach guarantees
integrity at the same level as the authentication and authorisation mechanisms
of the
institution’s registration system.
Unfortunately, the web-based authentication process for survey access
enables the system to trace students to their feedback and report on
information each
student has provided, raising student concerns about the lack of anonymity.
of a study conducted by Recker and Greenwood (1995) state that many students
felt that the web-based method was not completely able to preserve their
A perceived lack of anonymity in the use of some email surveys has also been
suggested as a
reason for low response rates (Kittleson, 1995; Moss & Hendry, 2002
Ranchhod & Zhou, 2001).
Paper-based surveys require formal authentication. Authentication is inherent
paper-based methods because they are administered in classrooms and under
supervision. However, one response per student cannot be guaranteed, especially
larger classes, and confidentiality depends on the honesty of the classmates
sitting close
by (Recker and Greenwood, 1995).
Most often, instructors administer paper-based surveys at the end of the class
time. In
some cases, the time allowed to complete the surveys is short, and in some
other cases
students may be in a hurry to leave the class. Several authors believe that
this approach
does not allow students to provide thoughtful feedback (Handwerk et al, 2000;
Hmieleski & Champagne, 2000). Also, most students are now accustomed to
using computers. Completing the surveys on computers provides a medium for
that students are more accustomed to. McGourty et al (2002) state that there
was an
increase in the number of comments at Colombia University as a result of the
change to
a web-based approach
The literature contains both positive and negative statements about the effect
of conducting
teaching evaluations online on the length and quality of feedback. Hmieleski
and Champagne (2000) report that students who used a web-based survey to
a management course wrote four times as many comments as students who used a
paper-based survey. Also, Handwerk et al (2000) note that the web-based
results in a more detailed and more thoughtful feedback by students. Hmieleski
Champagne (2000) agree with this statement, especially when the web-based
approach is used during the course for feedback and refinement. However, they
state that some

authors believe that students may make insincerely negative
or reckless remarks

because of environmental distractions present while students
provide feedback.