Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions

1. Why do I have to go into the IDEA system and fill out a survey in the first place?

The philosophy behind IDEA is that the best indicator of effective teaching is whether students make progress on the most important learning objectives for that particular course.

Faculty (or department curriculum committees) are encouraged to really think about which objectives are most important for their classes. For some classes, factual knowledge is the most important. For others, it could be analysis, communication skills, preparation of applied skills for a career, or developing creative capacities. For very class, we should identify no more than 3-5 Learning Objectives for the course.

Only student feedback on the learning objectives you identify as important factor into your overall evaluation (in addition to a few summary items). If your course, by design, does not emphasize applied learning, then student ratings on this do not lower your grade. If research and analysis are important, and you identify them as important, then the student feedback on these objectives is most relevant to you.

Once you’ve done the thinking on your Learning Objectives, the actual form takes 2 minutes to fill out. Follow this document: IDEA Quick Ref for Faculty V01 (2)for step-by-step directions. This recorded webinar provides fuller explanation and will walk you through the process

2. Can students fill these out after they get their grades?

NO. Students will only be able to fill out their surveys up until Reading Day (for full-semester classes) or the final day of class (for 5, 7, 8, 10 week classes), if not earlier. See this page for more details on timing.

3. As this is online, how do I get students to fill out their surveys? How can they be sure responses are anonymous?

The best way is to encourage them to bring smartphones, tablets and laptops to class and then give 10 minutes of in-class time for students to fill out the surveys.

In addition, discussing the importance of their input, using the materials provided on this website, is also important. Take a few minutes in class and send an email or two to discuss the new system. In a semester or two, this will all be old hat. Until then, let’s over-communicate to get the word out. There are lots of materials on this website to help you.

As to questions you may get about confidentiality and anonymity- Students do log into IDEA using their FDU webmail ID and password, but they are doing so on IDEA’s website, not FDU’s. When IDEA returns the data to us, it is scrubbed of all identifying information and we only receive anonymous, aggregated data.

4. What does the student survey look like? What are the questions?

Here’s what the survey looks like, including all questions: IDEA Sample Student Evaluation

These screenshots also show you the entire survey:

student form 1student form 2student form 3

student form 5student form 4

student form 6student form 7

5. Why are we making this switch?

This is year three of our process of implementing IDEA. In 2012, a faculty task force researched and identified alternatives to Endeavor and selected IDEA as our preferred alternative. We then pilot-tested IDEA for three semesters, involving hundreds of faculty, hundreds of classes, five full departments, and even Vancouver, online classes and classes distributed throughout NJ. In 2014, the transition to IDEA was approved unanimously by the APRC, overwhelmingly in the full Faculty Senate, and overwhelmingly in a Faculty Referendum. Fall 2014 is our transition semester. Please see the section containing the reports from each semester generated by the committee.

In our research, the task force found IDEA to be the most valid and useful instrument on the market, developed by Education Professors and in use at over 400 US universities. The instrument can get us better evaluative and developmental feedback for faculty, and aggregated information can be used for curricular planning, “loop closing”, and accreditation purposes. Finally, as an online instrument, we are better able to reach the students at our many distributed locations and serve our on-line and blended classes, as well as our more traditional in-class populations.

6. Are we changing who gets to see evaluations, whether we are keeping the same evaluation schedule, etc.?

No. We are simply changing the instrument- Endeavor to IDEA- and the delivery- paper/pencil to on-line. All other processes will remain in place. We wouldn’t presume to make academic decisions.

We are not changing any academic processes around IDEA. In general, this means that the faculty member, their chair/director and academic Dean are the only ones who get access to the end-of-semester reports. IDEA reports should be included in faculty records and portfolios for faculty review, just like we did with Endeavor. If your college has a different schedule for who gets evaluated for fall and Spring, these policies remain intact.

In terms of how chairs, DPRCs, CPRCs, and Deans interpret the reports for personnel decision-making, we can offer some guidelines and best practices (coming soon), but it is up to those entities to decide how they use the evaluative feedback.

7. I still have questions

Please contact me, Scott Behson (Behson @fdu.edu) or Associate Provost Cathy Kelley (Clkelley @fdu.edu), and we’ll talk you through.

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