Understanding IASystem Course Summary Reports

IASystem™ Course Summary Reports summarize student response to scannable evaluation forms and comprise one resource for instructional improvement. The reports provide information about the relative strengths of different aspects of instruction within a given course by supporting item to item comparisons. Instructors can also use IASystem™ norms to compare their ratings to those given other courses of the same type.

General Information

All reports are labeled with the name of the instructor and the name, number, and academic term of the course. Also shown, in the bottom right-hand corner of the report, are the class enrollment and the number of students who completed at least a portion of the evaluation form.

Item Text

The specific wording is shown for each item on the evaluation form. The first four items are very similar on all forms. These items, and the combined four-item average, provide a general assessment of perceived course quality. The last nine items are also common across forms and provide information about the course and the student that may be useful in interpreting evaluative ratings.

Number and Percentage of Students

The number of students who responded to each item is shown and, based on these numbers, the percentage of students who chose each response alternative.

Median Responses

Medians are a measure of central tendency that indicate the point on the scale dividing a distribution of scores or ratings evenly in half; half of the scores fall above the median, and half fall below. IAS reports item medians rather than means because they more accurately represent student ratings of each item. Medians are computed to one decimal place by interpolation, and higher medians reflect more favorable ratings for most items.

Learn more about medians


To interpret ratings, translate the value of each median to the corresponding response scale. For example, a median of 4.5 on Items 1-4 means that the average rating is half-way between Very Good and Excellent. For items relating to course workload, the median has been divided by credit hours to allow comparisons across classes. Medians are computed based on the following numeric rating scales:

All Forms Form X Only Form J Only
Excellent = 5 Always/Great/Much Higher = 7 Extensive = 4
Very Good = 4 = 6 Considerable = 3
Good = 3 = 5 Moderate = 2
Fair = 2 About Half/Average = 4 Slight = 1
Poor = 1 = 3
Very Poor = 0 = 2
Never/None/Much Lower = 1

Combined Median Items 1-4

A median that represents the combined responses of students to items 1 through 4 is presented to provide an overall index of the class's quality. This median is computed by first summing the numerical weights of all of the responses within each response category (e.g., all of the responses to Excellent, all of the responses to Very Good, etc.) across all four items. This results in a new response array from which a median is calculated using the procedure outlined above.

Learn more about using IASystem to make decisions

Adjusted Medians

Ratings on items 1 through 4 and their combined median are statistically adjusted to take into account 1) the reason students took the class, 2) class size, and 3) student grade expectations.

Learn more about adjusted medians

Relative Rank

Relative ranks are computed by standardizing and rank ordering median ratings of each item. Scores are standardized by subtracting the item median from the overall UW Seattle average and dividing by the standard deviation across all courses. The standardized scores are then rank ordered, with 1 being the highest ranked item with respect to that particular course. These ratings are intended to serve as a guide to direct instructional improvement efforts, with the top ranked items (1, 2, 3, etc.) representing the strongest areas and the lowest ranked items perhaps in need of additional focus.

Challenge and Engagement Index (CEI)

The CEI reflects how challenging students found a course and how engaged they were in it. The index is computed based on student response to a combination of items on course evaluation forms. Although the general evaluative ratings (items 1-4) give some indication of how challenging and engaging students find a course, the CEI provides a more direct measure. In fact, the CEI is only modestly correlated (~.25) with the global ratings.

Learn more about the CEI


UW Seattle Norms allow instructors to compare their own course ratings to those received by all courses taught at UW Seattle during the previous two years. Instructors can choose their norm group on the basis of college or department, faculty rank, course level, and class size.

Optional Items

If you have used optional items, their results will be found on the second page of your report. To interpret the results, you will need to consult your copy of the item text you used.