About the Instructional Assessment System (IASystem)

What is the IASystem™?

The Instructional Assessment System (IASystem™) is a well-established course evaluation system providing both online and paper-based assessment of post-secondary courses.  Developed at the University of Washington (UW) in the early 1970’s, IASystem™ has been in continuous use at the UW and other institutions.  Regular updates and enhancements ensure that IASystem™ provides state-of-the art assessment for improvement of teaching and learning in higher education.

IASystem™ provides:

  • Ability to evaluate any class either online or on paper
  • Multiple evaluation forms to assess diverse instructional formats
  • Summative questions on all forms to allow cross-class and cross-instructor comparisons
  • Formative questions to provide feedback on specific aspects of each course
  • Ability to add instructor-generated questions
  • Integrated data archiving and reporting for online and paper evaluations
  • Multi-level reporting by class, department, and institution
  • Statistical adjustment for bias factors
  • Index of student academic challenge and engagement
  • Institutional norms
  • Data exports
  • Quick turn-around for paper-based evaluations (15 working days, plus shipping time)
  • Intuitive online interface for course evaluation management

IASystem™ Evaluation Forms

In creating IASystem™, UW research staff worked with faculty to identify types of courses that cut across academic disciplines, and developed a pool of items to elicit effective formative feedback relative to each instructional format.  The combination of format-specific items with more general (global) items provides the basis for the suite of IASystem™ evaluation forms providing effective formative and summative assessment for a wide range of post-secondary courses.

A Small Lecture / Discussion (66K PDF*) I  Distance Learning (100K PDF*)
B Large Lecture (98K PDF*) J Clinical / Studio (92K PDF*)
C Seminar / Discussion (98K PDF*) K Project / Studio (100K PDF*)
D Problem Solving (99K PDF*) L English as a Second Language (269K PDF*)
E Skill Acquisition (98K PDF*) MStudy Abroad (315K PDF*)
F Quiz Section (153K PDF*) X Educational Outcomes (99K PDF*)
G Lectures / Assignments (97K PDF*) Comment Form (19K PDF*)
H Lab (152K PDF*)  

All IASystem™ forms are available for both online and paper-based evaluations and all share the same basic structure.  Four global items are included on each evaluation form to obtain an overall assessment of the course and instructor.  Because they are written in general terms, global items are appropriate to all course types and can be used for summative comparisons of ratings across courses, instructors, and over time.  All forms also include a common set of interpretive items that assist in understanding evaluation results.  For example, expected grade in course and reason for enrollment are used in adjusting for bias in student responses, while questions about intellectual challenge and amount of effort are used to compute an index of student challenge and engagement for the course.  Diagnostic items are specific to each evaluation form, and provide specific formative feedback about the course for the purpose of instructional improvement.

How are IASystem™ Results Used?

The primary purpose of IASystem™ course evaluations is improvement of teaching and learning at post-secondary institutions.  Faculty use formative feedback provided by course summary reports to pinpoint particular areas where improvements can be made in individual courses.  Faculty committees look at patterns of combined course ratings in custom summary reports to make changes to departmental curricula.

IASystem™ results are used by academic administrators to allocate resources and inform personnel decisions.  High-low reports list instructors with the highest and lowest summative ratings each academic term to identify individual faculty who may need additional support in their teaching and those who may be able to serve as mentors or assist with instructional development.  Tenure and promotion committees review teaching portfolios and tenure packets that include custom summary reports and collections of individual course summary reports.

Institutions may also make IASystem™ results available to students to assist in course selection.  Students have access to a number of unsystematic online ratings websites, but by providing structured access to better quality data institutions are able to support students in considering a number of different factors in selecting courses.

More Information

For more information about IASystem™, please visit iasystem.org.