Office of Educational Assessment

Course 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.


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  About Half/Average = 4 Considerable = 3
Good = 3  Never/None/Much Lower = 1 Moderate = 2
Fair = 2 Slight = 1
Poor = 1
Very Poor = 0

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.

Adjusted Medians

Course evaluation results may be influenced by outside factors.  In particular, students tend to give higher ratings to small courses rather than large courses, to courses in which they are expecting a relatively high grade, and to courses in their major rather than general distribution requirement.  To reduce potential bias, IASystemTM computes “adjusted medians” for summative items based on a multiple regression approach.


Decile Ranks

Comparative norms are reported as decile ranks for Items 1-27.1 These norms are based on your item median. Decile ranks range from 0 (lowest) to 9 (highest). The 0 decile indicates that your item median is in the lowest 10% of all scores. A decile rank of 1 places your median above 10% and below 80% of the scores, and so on up to a decile of 9 which places your median in the top 10% of all scores. For all items, higher medians yield higher decile ranks.

Decile ranks are based on student ratings collected over the past two academic years. Your ratings are compared to all classes at your institution and classes within your college, school or division. Decile ranks are printed only for items with sufficient normative data.

Items with low decile ranks may suggest areas where instructional improvement efforts might be focused. You also should be aware that average ratings tend to be high; thus a relatively low decile rank may be associated with “Good” ratings in absolute terms.

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.


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.

1 Items 1-14 for Form J.