How Is Your Response Rate?

Ideas for Improving SPCI Response Rates

With only a week of classes left, we’d usually share some ideas for a great last class, but we recently got some good questions about the Student Perception of Courses and Instructors (SPCI) survey. Several colleagues mentioned that response rates have been lower than they’d wish, and they asked what they could do to increase the number of students completing the survey. Since more instructors may have the same questions, we thought we’d share our response with everyone.

If you’re teaching in person, our best advice is to give students 10 or 15 minutes of class time to fill out the survey online. It’s much easier to encourage them to complete the survey when they’re sitting in the classroom. You can begin by explaining why we ask students to fill them out in the first place, and why their feedback matters to you. Providing a motivating explanation is helpful because many students assume that faculty either don’t read or don’t act upon their feedback. You can let them know that you do read and value it, and that you will use their feedback to make the course better for the next class of students. You can even let them know that (and how) they benefited from the feedback previous students have given, and thank them for helping you to make the course better each time around.

Of course, you’ll need to leave the room while students have 10 or 15 minutes to complete the survey, then you can come back and start class. Some colleagues invite a student volunteer to come out in the hall and get them when everyone is done. If you do this at the end of class, some students may just leave early, so doing it at the beginning of class often works better.

The Office of Digital Learning (ODL) has more information about the SPCI process on their website, and they even made a course evaluation module you can import into your Canvas course. This module provides tips and resources that will help you engage students in the evaluation process and increase SPCI response rates. You’ll see that the last day to administer evaluations is Friday, April 26th, and reports will be released on Friday, May 10th.

The following are a collection of strategies you can use to increase response rates:

  • Monitor Response Rates: You can view the response rates on Canvas and set a goal for the class.
  • Remind students: You can encourage students to complete the survey by reminding them in class, on Canvas, and by email.
  • Use class time: In a face-to-face course, you can ask students to take out their devices and navigate to the survey in Canvas. Then, you can leave the room so they can complete it.
  • Explain the purpose: Let students know why their feedback is important and how you use it to improve your courses.
  • Share instructions: Help students understand how to access the survey, or ask them to show one another. If you or your students use the Canvas mobile app, you/they might not see a link to the evaluations. Visit to access them on a mobile device.

Improving response rates will provide you with more feedback, and once you have it, we’re happy to help you interpret and respond to it! If you’d like to consult with us about your SPCI results, or if you’d like for us to read them for you and report back the themes, please reach out for a consultation at We look forward to working with you!