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Procedures for Online FCQ Administration


The Boulder campus Office of Planning, Budget, and Analysis (PBA) administers the Faculty Course Questionnaire (FCQ) program for the Boulder, Denver downtown, and Colorado Springs campuses of the University of Colorado. The FCQ Office is part of PBA.

A course can be evaluated with either paper or online FCQs. The online FCQ is always used for online-only courses (primarily at Denver and Colorado Springs campuses) and is the default for study abroad courses. Most classroom-based courses choose to use paper FCQ forms; however, the online FCQ is available for classroom-based courses also. The request for either paper or online FCQ administration is typically made by the department coordinator during the FCQ course list editing period (weeks 5–7 each term) based on department and/or instructor preference. However, beginning with spring 2006, all CU-Boulder graduate-only sections of 10 or fewer students have been required to use online FCQs. This is intended to enhance the anonymity of graduate student responses in these small sections, by eliminating handwriting from the submissions.

Online FCQ procedures


Students, including auditors, who are formally registered for the course in CU-SIS (CU Integrated Student Information System) are emailed an online FCQ invitation by the FCQ Office. This is a customized email invitation with a link (URL) to an online FCQ for the course and a unique, random 7-digit "passcode" number. Students taking more than one course receive only one invitation and one passcode, which will work for all courses the student is taking that term. A passcode is good for one term only.

To respond, each student can click the appropriate URL for each course-section linked directly from the email; alternatively, if the student has lost the email invitation, he or she can go to a generic online FCQ portal for their campus (CU-Boulder, CU-Boulder Continuing Ed, CU Denver, or UCCS), where the student selects the course-section from a list and enters the passcode (or a combination of birthdate and last 4 digits of student ID) to verify their enrollment in the class. The passcode (or birthdate/student ID combination) is used to verify enrollment in the course and to store the responses temporarily, to avoid the possibility of multiple responses from one person. If multiple forms for a single course are submitted from a single passcode, we take the last submitted form.

For regular term-long courses in fall and spring, we open the FCQ online website a few days before regular (paper) FCQ administration begins, and close it a few days after paper administration ends. This way two weekends are always included and students have approximately 11–12 days to respond. The website is always closed before finals begin for fall and spring terms.

In summer, due to the highly irregular starting and ending dates of the summer course schedule, we have at least eight 7-day online FCQ administration periods. Each summer class is put into the online administration period which best matches its end date listed in CU-SIS. However, in summer, the online FCQ is sometimes administered after the class has ended, because the summer calendar is so irregular, and it is impossible for us to customize summer administration periods to perfectly fit each class.

The CU-Boulder and UCCS campuses use the same set of standard FCQ questions; the CU Denver has its own set of standard FCQ questions. The questions in the FCQ form used online are identical to those used on paper. See:
    • CU-Boulder, UCCS: online FCQ form vs. paper FCQ form
    • CU Denver: online FCQ form vs. paper FCQ form

While student ID numbers are used to obtain students' email addresses, and names are kept in case students contact us about having lost or not received their passcodes, they are never associated with students' responses. Student responses are anonymous.

After 4-5 days of online FCQ data collection, the passcodes of the responses received are used to mark students' records in our database. Each respondent's student ID, name, and email address are deleted from the database, breaking the association between the passcode and an individual student. A reminder email is then sent to each student who has not yet submitted all of their online FCQs. A student may receive three or more reminder emails by the time the online FCQ administration period closes.

See sample student email messages and reminders. (Also includes information on the typical length and number of emails for online administration by term.)

When collection is complete, all student ID's, names, and email addresses are deleted from the database, so that no one can associate any response with a particular student, or determine who did or did not respond. The pass codes are generated by a process that ensures that no one, not even someone who knows the generation procedure, can link student ID's to pass codes.

For reporting and data storage, we then assign a sequence number to each set of responses. Sequence numbers are used to keep ratings and comments from each student together in our files, and are unrelated to the student's ID, so that they will not sort in the same order as the instructor's list of the ID's.


One or more weeks before online FCQ administration opens, the FCQ Office sends each instructor an email listing their courses that are being served with online FCQs. This email provides information on the online FCQ administration's process, dates, and student invitations and reminder emails. Instructors receive a second email with the same information the day the online FCQ system opens. Once the system opens, they may check the online FCQ response rate for their courses in real time by going to

Online FCQ reports

Online FCQ results are printed out and returned to the department at the same time as paper FCQs:
    • Fall term: returned mid-January
    • Spring term: returned early to mid-June
    • Summer term: returned mid-September
Instructors receive two reports for each of their classes served with online FCQs. The first, an FCQ section report identical to that produced for paper forms, summarizes the ratings (i.e., average ratings and comparison to peers). The second, an FCQ response compilation, lists both ratings and comments made by each student, identified by sequence number. This FCQ response compilation replaces the information normally gained from the paper FCQs themselves.

Please send any comments on this method, and suggestions for alternatives, to FCQ@Colorado.EDU. Thanks!

Original source: L:\fcq\code\webform\OnlineProcedure.doc

Last revision 04/21/16

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