eand Distance Education Assessment Laboratory survey of the United States’ 200 mostwired 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 remaininginstitutions indicated return rates of 20 to over 90% for web-based surveys. McGourtyet al (2002) and Thorpe (2002) report that student sex, class standing and cumulativeGPA are good predictors of student participation in the course survey process. Theystate that female students completed a higher percentage of the surveys than malestudents.Under the web-based method, the system authenticates the students using the sameauthentication mechanisms as those used for university emails or online registrations.The authentication is necessary to ensure that each student provides feedback onlyonce, and those students who are properly registered in that particular section canprovide feedback for each course section. The web-based approach guarantees feedbackintegrity at the same level as the authentication and authorisation mechanisms of theinstitution’s registration system.
Unfortunately, the web-based authentication process for survey access inevitablyenables the system to trace students to their feedback and report on information eachstudent has provided, raising student concerns about the lack of anonymity. Resultsof a study conducted by Recker and Greenwood (1995) state that many studentsfelt that the web-based method was not completely able to preserve their anonymity.A perceived lack of anonymity in the use of some email surveys has also been suggested as areason for low response rates (Kittleson, 1995; Moss & Hendry, 2002 Ranchhod & Zhou, 2001).Paper-based surveys require formal authentication. Authentication is inherent inpaper-based methods because they are administered in classrooms and under facultysupervision. However, one response per student cannot be guaranteed, especially inlarger classes, and confidentiality depends on the honesty of the classmates sitting closeby (Recker and Greenwood, 1995).Most often, instructors administer paper-based surveys at the end of the class time.
Insome cases, the time allowed to complete the surveys is short, and in some other casesstudents may be in a hurry to leave the class. Several authors believe that this approachdoes not allow students to provide thoughtful feedback (Handwerket al, 2000;Hmieleski & Champagne, 2000). Also, most students are now accustomed to writingusing computers. Completing the surveys on computers provides a medium for writingthat students are more accustomed to. McGourtyet al (2002) state that there was anincrease in the number of comments at Colombia University as a result of the change toa web-based approachThe literature contains both positive and negative statements about the effect of conductingteaching evaluations online on the length and quality of feedback. Hmieleskiand Champagne (2000) report that students who used a web-based survey to evaluatea management course wrote four times as many comments as students who used apaper-based survey. Also, Handwerket al (2000) note that the web-based approachresults in a more detailed and more thoughtful feedback by students. Hmieleski andChampagne (2000) agree with this statement, especially when the web-based approachis used during the course for feedback and refinement.
However, they state that someauthors believe that students may make insincerely negative or reckless remarksbecause of environmental distractions present while students provide feedback.