Tools and Work Aids For lecturers



General and background information

The standardized course evaluation serves a dual purpose: one the one hand, it provides specific suggestion to improve teaching and learning situations, and on the other hand provides information about the current quality of your teaching. The ultimate goal of all activities is to not only maintain but continuously advance high-level teaching quality.

Proof of quality (accountability)

The results of the evaluations, specifically the final evaluation, at the University of Bern serve, among other things, as proof of quality. Since universities serve a publicly financed and legally regulated educational mandate, they are required to provide transparent information to the public regarding the implementation and goal achievement of the measures they offer (i.e. the courses).

In addition, course evaluations are anchored in the University's quality assurance concept and thus play a key role in the University's successful accreditation.

Advancement (improvement-focused)

However, the evaluation results also serve to continuously advance the quality of teaching, as described in the University's quality assurance concept. The goal is to identify strengths and weaknesses of teaching at the course level in order to help generate ideas for modifications. The interim evaluation and the evaluation of performance assessments are specifically designed for this purpose. However, the final evaluation serves this purposed to a certain extent as well.

The results of the three evaluations are used to improve courses on two levels:

  1. Lecturers use the results to improve their own teaching concepts (learning outcomes, teaching/learning activities, assessments).
  2. The institutes/faculties use insights from the aggregated results to optimize (pre-)conditions for good teaching.

Since the revision of course evaluations, evaluations have been divided into three parts, each with its own questionnaire: the (mostly voluntary) interim evaluation in the first half of a course, the final evaluation towards the end of a course, and the evaluation of the performance assessment after the performance assessment has been completed. Which courses and performance assessments will be evaluated in a given semester is determined by the faculties. 

The contents of the questionnaires are coordinated and measure the achievement or fulfillment of conditional factors and target criteria for Good Teaching, which have been defined on the basis of current teaching and evaluation research.

In addition, the intervals at which courses and performance assessments must be evaluated have been defined.

Which courses and performance assessments will be evaluated in a given semester is determined by the faculties. For new course types and newly hired instructors, as well as for instructors in qualification positions (e.g. assistant professorships with tenure track) and for instructors who achieved an «insufficient» result in the previous final evaluation, the final evaluation is mandatory.  For the latter group, an additional interim evaluation is also mandatory.

In addition, instructors are free to have their course or performance assessment evaluated on a voluntary basis at any time.

Interim evaluation: no predefined interval

Final evaluation: every course and all teaching staff have to be evaluated at least once every three years (minimum requirement, specified by the faculties' QM regulations)

Evaluation of performance assessment: 50% of all performance assessments have to be evaluated at least every 3 years (minimum requirement, specified by the faculties' QM regulations)

Sample questionnaires for the interim evaluation, final evaluation (incl. supplementary modules), and evaluation of the performance assessment can be found here.

Customizing the standard questionnaires is not possible.

Supplementary modules are available for the final evaluation, which can be used in addition to the core questionnaire as needed:

  • eLearning
  • Student contributions (e.g. for seminars)
  • Team teaching
  • Application orientation (e.g. for exercises and labs)
  • Interdisciplinarity

In addition to the standard questionnaire, instructors may design their own questionnaires. The Evaluation Office can give feedback on individually designed questionnaires but cannot help with the implementation of the survey or analysis of the results. Individually designed questionnaires cannot replace a mandatory final evaluation by means of the standard questionnaire.

The questionnaires for the interim evaluation, the final evaluation, and for the evaluation of the performance assessment are available in German, English and French (selection of language via the flag in the survey header).

In order to ensure the anonymity of the students, the results of a survey are only forwarded automatically if at least 5 students have participated in the survey. Instructors can receive their results on request if fewer than 5 but more than 2 students have participated in the survey, however, this is regulated on a faculty-specific basis. 

The results of the performance assessment will only be sent out if at least 5 students have taken part in the survey.

Course evaluation is a tool used to measure the extent to which the conditions and target criteria for Good Teaching have been met or achieved. This measurement is based on the students' ratings in the surveys and is therefore only possible through student participation. 

Students benefit from their participation in two ways:

  1. Instructors and the university use the survey results to improve teaching. Students benefit from resulting improvements in their courses and performance assessments.  
  2. The surveys provide students with an opportunity to reflect on their own behavior and its contribution to their learning success, which may help them to improve in the future.

When evaluating a course, participation from all students is important to ensure that the results are as representative as possible.

Interim- and final evaluation: Students will either receive a link to the survey from the lecturer or an administrative office in the faculty (e.g. via email or ILIAS), or can scan a QR code in the course to access the survey.

Evaluation of the performance assessment: Students receive a link to the survey by email from the Course Evaluation Office.

How many and which courses and performance assessments are evaluated in a semester is decided by the faculty. Since some faculties have many or all courses and performance assessments evaluated, it is possible that students have to fill out a relatively large number of questionnaires.

In interim and final evaluations, response and participant anonymity is guaranteed for students. It is not possible to find out who participated in the survey or to trace answers back to a participant.

In evaluations of performance assessments, response anonymity is guaranteed for students as well. It is not possible to trace answers back to a participant.

Questions about preparing for evaluations

There is a registration deadline for each evaluation (see Current semester).

There are no specific deadlines for conducting the surveys, as this depends on the schedule of the respective course or performance assessment. The final evaluation, however, should be conducted at a time that allows for subsequent discussion of the results with the students (e.g. third last or second last session).

Registration for the evaluation should be done via the KSL (left tab "Lecturer mandatory").

An overview of the registration modalities and registration deadlines can be found under Current semester.

In order to avoid administrative idle time, there are no automatic transferals. There should be a conscious decision for an evaluation at the beginning of a semester by a person responsible for course evaluations.

Whether instructors are evaluated individually or in a team depends on whether all instructors are registered in KSL as instructors for the respective course and which settings have been selected under «Evaluation of the course» or «Evaluation of the performance assessment». As a rule of thumb, one questionnaire is generated for each selected name.

As long as all instructors are entered as instructors in KSL for the respective course/performance assessment, all instructors can receive their own questionnaire. On the registration tab in KSL, select all instructors for whom a separate survey should be set up. Please keep in mind that students have to fill out a separate questionnaire for each person evaluated individually. Therefore, the number of instructors evaluated separately per course should be limited.

If instructors are to be evaluated as a team (one questionnaire for the entire course/performance assessment), select the «Team evaluation» option in KSL. 

Since spring semester 2022, all surveys for the final, interim and evaluations of the performance assessments have been conducted online.

Advantages of online surveys: Surveys conducted online tend to be less time-consuming for lecturers, as there is no need for printing and scanning. Results are delivered automatically and immediately after the survey is closed. Online surveys may have lower response rates than paper surveys, but are much more sustainable.

There are online surveys with individual links and general links (see «methods»).

Surveys for interim and final evaluation are usually conducted with general links. Evaluations of performance assessments are generally conducted using individual links.


Questions about conducting evaluations

Interim evaluation: During the first half of the course. (Online surveys will be scheduled according to the requested dates).

Final evaluation: Towards the end of the course. The lecturer should conduct the online survey at the latest on the second last date of the course. By default, the surveys close 3 days after the second last date of the course. (Exception: block courses are closed 4 days after the last date, unless otherwise stated). On request, the Evaluation Office can set a different closing date.

Evaluation of the performance assessment: The students receive the survey links after the performance assessment has been completed and before grades are announced. Surveys for oral examinations remain open for 24 hours, surveys for written examinations remain open for 4 days (unless otherwise stated).

If you have a preferred date for conducting an online survey, you are welcome to notify the Evaluation Office. Please use this form to do so.

The questionnaires are available bilingually in German and English (final, interim and evaluation of performance assessment) and separately in French (final and interim evaluation).

When registering for an evaluation in KSL, it is therefore not mandatory to choose the language (except for final evaluations in French). Students receive either a link to the bilingual German/English questionnaire and can set the desired language by clicking on the corresponding country flag in the online survey, or a link to the French questionnaire.

The result reports for the lecturers can be produced either in German or English (German by default). If you would like to receive the results reports in English, please contact the Course Evaluation Office.

If a survey was not set up for a course, this course was probably not registered in KSL for the respective evaluation. In this case, contact the Evaluation Office to check whether a survey can still be set up retrospectively.

Final and interim evaluation: The lecturer distributes the link to the survey to the eligible students via email, publishes it on ILIAS or integrates the QR code to the survey into the presentation. 

Evaluation of the performance assessment: Eligible to participate in online surveys are the students who have received an email with the invitation link. These are the students who are registered for the examination according to the list of participants (by default from KSL).

By default, personalized links, which are only valid once, are used for the evaluations. Once students have completed a survey, they will not be able to complete the same survey again.

In general, the standard questionnaires are recommended for courses with more than 5 participants, since for reasons of data protection the results of surveys with fewer than 5 participants can only be released in rare cases, and only results from surveys with more than 5 participants are included in the faculty average. However, it is possible to set up surveys for smaller courses, albeit without any guarantee that the results will be made available for review. For smaller courses, other, more qualitative methods for quality checks are recommended (e.g. analyzing comments without quantitative data).

The header of the online surveys lists the course title and the instructor(s) involved in the survey. If several instructors are evaluated together in one survey, this is also indicated in the header. (Exception: if there are more than five lecturers, only the main lecturer is listed, followed by "et al.", for reasons of limited space).

Questions about the processing and consequences of evaluations

Completed paper questionnaires can either be scanned at an EvaSys scanning station by a third party, or returned to the Evaluation Office:

Evaluationsstelle der Universität Bern

Hochschulstrasse 6

3012 Bern

Ideally, questionnaires should be scanned or returned to the Evaluation Office immediately after the survey has been conducted. This will ensure that the questionnaires are processed as quickly as possible and allows for the results to be discussed with the students during the course, if possible.

It is possible to return questionnaires from different courses in one envelope. Please ensure that the different batches remain separate and that questionnaires from different courses are not mixed up.

Detailed results are typically sent only to the instructors who are included in the evaluation. In some institutes, the report is also sent to the evaluation officer. At the end of an evaluation period, the aggregated results of the entire faculty are sent to the QM representatives of the faculty.

Instructors receive the evaluation result immediately after the questionnaires have been scanned or the online survey has been closed. A PDF file with an automatic summary of the survey results and the students' comments is sent via email. If you do not receive the report within the expected time, please notify the Evaluation Office. When evaluating performance assessments, the report is not sent automatically, but only after confirmed grade release.

The results are not published by the Evaluation Office. It is however possible that individual faculties publish faculty-internal results on their own channels.

The Evaluation Office does not allow students to access the evaluation results. To complete the first control loop, however, the conceptual framework requires instructors to discuss the survey results, the conclusions drawn from them, and any potential measures for improvement with students before the end of the semester.

To complete the first control loop, the conceptual framework requires instructors to discuss the survey results, the conclusions drawn from them, and any potential measures for improvement with students before the end of the semester. This way, students learn that instructors take their feedback seriously.

On the one hand, the report includes the overall score, which allows to deduce the success level the evaluation result has achieved. In addition, it contains the separate results of the two areas «Learning progress» and «Satisfaction» and the individual results per question item. To the right of the question items that count towards the overall score, a traffic light symbol indicates the quality level of the average score achieved for the respective question. Question items for which no traffic light symbol is displayed do not count towards the overall score. In addition, the report contains reference lines illustrating how the results compare to the faculty's overall results of the previous year (spring or fall semester).

Categorization as «excellent teaching» in a final evaluation is linked to the ALL project (Recognition of excellent teaching performance). Courses with an «excellent» result are nominated for this award. Faculties may use additional criteria to decide which of these courses receive the award.

In case of «insufficient» results in a final evaluation, a quality development process is initiated. The faculties define appropriate measures in their own QM guidelines.

In order to improve the quality of their own teaching, instructors may use the services offered by the university's Educational Development Unit.

In addition, it is recommended to conduct an interim evaluation in order to improve teaching quality, as this evaluation is purely formative in nature and can, by means of specific conditional factors, identify potential weaknesses in teaching practices.