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FCQ Volume, Response Rates, and Ratings over Time

This report describes results for fall terms at the Boulder campus only, and excludes FCQ activity in Continuing Education courses. The statistics displayed in each of the graphs below are available in an Excel file.

FCQ Volume

The number of paper forms returned from fall 1991 to fall 2010 ranges from approximately 81,000 (fall 1994) to 107,000 (fall 2004). The number of online forms returned is considerably smaller, ranging from under 2,000 (through fall 2005) to approximately 30,000 (fall 2010). Total forms returned exceeded 113,000 for the first time in fall 2008.

There has been a steady increase in online FCQ volume over the past several years. Although all graduate-only course sections* of 10 or fewer students have been required to use online FCQs since spring 2006, this procedural change accounts for only a small portion of the overall online volume. For example, of the 29,657 online forms returned in fall 2010, only 1,222 were from graduate-only sections of 10 or fewer students. This indicates that the increase in online FCQs is due largely to their increasing popularity and not to their mandatory use in small graduate-only course sections.

The number of Boulder campus course sections administering paper FCQs has generally increased over time, ranging from about 3,700 (fall 1991-fall 1993) to 4,600 (fall 2005). Since fall 2006, however, as online administration has increased, there has been a corresponding decrease in the number of sections administering paper FCQs. In fall 2010, approximately 1,700 course sections administered FCQs online and approximately 3,200 administered them on paper. The total number of course sections administering FCQs exceeded 5,000 for the first time in fall 2008.

The total number of forms returned in spring typically is 14% lower than that of fall. Similarly, the total number of course sections administering FCQs is smaller in spring, by about 13%. These results mirror enrollment, stemming from lower overall enrollment and credit hours in spring terms.

FCQ Response Rates

For the Boulder campus, the response rate (also called "return rate") for paper administration of FCQs has varied little over the past 20 fall terms (from fall 1991 to fall 2010), ranging from 78% to 82%, as shown in the graph below. Since its inception on the Boulder campus in 2003, online FCQ administration has yielded a lower response rate than that of paper administration, ranging from 45% to 67%.

For online FCQs, there are differences in response rate according to instructor group. Students in courses taught by teaching assistants and other primary instructors (e.g., GPTI, adjunct, visiting, etc.) tend to respond at a somewhat lower rate than do those in courses taught by tenured and tenure-track (TTT) faculty. When FCQs are administered on paper, there are some slight, but inconsistent, differences in response rate among students who were taught by TTT and other primary instructors. In addition, students taught by teaching assistants tend to respond somewhat less frequently than do those in courses taught by the other two groups. Note that the online response rates for 2003 and 2004 have been omitted from the graph below, because relatively small numbers of course sections taught by TTT faculty used online FCQs during those years (only 3 and 6 course sections, respectively).

We prepare for administration of FCQs for some course sections that ultimately do not return any forms. Over all fall terms since 1991, a total of 3,951 sections (5%) have not returned any forms. The median number of forms prepared over these sections is 14. These sections were not included when computing response rates for this report.

Spring term response rates are very similar to those of fall terms. Click here for additional information on FCQ response rates.

Computational note:  The FCQ response rate is computed as the number of FCQ forms returned divided by the number prepared and is expressed as a percentage. The number of forms prepared typically is equivalent to the number of students enrolled. In computing response rates, we first computed a response rate for each course section, by term. Then, the median of those response rates, over all sections, was computed for each term. Each plot point in the two graphs of response rates denotes one of the medians.

FCQ Ratings

Students' ratings of courses and instructors have increased slightly over time, as shown in the graph below. The dashed, vertical line in the graph denotes the introduction of the fall 2006 and later FCQ, which has different questions and a different response scale than the pre-fall 2006 FCQ. Because of these differences, direct comparisons between ratings on these two versions of the FCQ are not possible. However, we often compare pre-fall 2006 ratings, when converted to estimated fall 2006 and later ratings, to actual fall 2006 and later ratings. This is done in online listings of FCQ results and in the graph below.  Both apply a conversion formula to stretch the pre-fall 2006 5-point scale (F=0, D=1, ... , A=4) to the current 6-point scale (1=lowest ... 6=highest). The current scale is designed in part to reduce the clustering of responses in the highest response alternative.  It accomplished this:  29% of fall 2005 course rating (section) means were 3.5 or higher (on the 0-4 scale), whereas only 12% of  fall 2006 means were 5.5 or higher (on the 1-6 scale). (For instructor rating means, these percentages are 49% and 29%, respectively.) The result, clearly seen in the graph, is a decrease in the mean ratings as expressed on the 6-point scale.

There is little difference between fall and spring mean FCQ ratings. Typically, students' ratings of courses and instructors are about .05 points (on the 1-6 scale) higher in spring than fall. From 1991-2010, mean spring course ratings ranged from .01 to .34 points higher, and mean spring instructor ratings ranged from .005 to .21 points higher.

The graph below illustrates that, in general, tenured and tenure-track faculty and other primary instructors receive somewhat higher course and instructor ratings than do teaching assistants.

Computational note:  Data from Items 7 ("rate the course overall") and 8 ("rate the instructor overall") from the fall 2006 and later FCQ and Items 11 ("this course, compared to all your other university courses") and 12 ("this instructor, compared to all your other university instructors") from the pre-fall 2006 FCQ were used to compute individual course section means. (The pre-fall 2006 means were converted to the fall 2006 and later scale.) Then, the median of those means, over all sections, was computed for each term. Each plot point in the two graphs of course and instructor ratings denotes one of the medians.

*In this report, a "course section" refers to a course-section-by-instructor combination. For example, when a single course section has two instructors, both course-section-by-instructor combinations are counted for reporting purposes.


Last revision 05/19/16

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