IASystem Course Evaluations

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Across the nation, many institutions of higher education are moving to online course evaluations to save time in class, to align with online offerings, and to offer learner choice in where and when to respond. The noted Northwestern University study (Hardy, 2003) sheds light on use of online evaluations and moved Northwestern to full implementation for all courses. Programs at UW Tacoma are now using online evaluations for online, hybrid and the majority of on-ground course evaluations.

The Office of Educational Assessment is responsible for providing assessment support to all University of Washington colleges, schools and programs. OEA administers the UW-developed Instructional Assessment System (IASystem) to collect, archive and report both online and paper course evaluations across the UW system. On the UW Tacoma campus, our academic program administrators are responsible for configuring and managing quarterly evaluations (IASystem coordinator) both paper and online.  IASystem FAQ.

How can I become an IASystem™ coordinator?
IASystem™ coordinator access is controlled by the Office of Educational Assessment. Contact iasuw@uw.edu to participate in the UW IASystem™ training and be added as a user. Here on the UW Tacoma campus, the Office of Digital Learning is responsible for departmental support and analysis, once a coordinator is trained.


Whether collected on paper via bubble-mark forms or online, IASystem manages the results in a central UW repository with multiple levels of security. For online evaluations, each IASystem coordinator has UW-NetID access to evaluations for each course.They specify which courses for each quarter, along with which evaluation form is to be used, whether evaluations are online or on paper, and when instructors will be able to view reports.  They set open and close dates for online evaluations and request pre-printed cover sheets for evaluations using bubble sheets.  Coordinators also distribute and collect the forms and pencils for paper evaluations.

For online evaluations, IASystem then sends an email to the students in a course at their @uw.edu address. The email includes a link to the evaluation.  Access to the evaluation is controlled by UW NetID, where only students enrolled in the course are allowed to respond and each student may respond only once.  

ALL results - online and paper:

  • are confidential
  • available to instructors only after the course ends and grades are submitted.

Summary reports for each course are distributed to instructors, as well as directors and deans, by departmental administrators once the quarter ends. Reports for online evaluations include open-ended student comments.  For paper evaluations, student comments are not captured digitally but returned on paper directly to the program. Please see the IASystem About page for more information on course evaluations at the University of Washington Tacoma.

Note: Online evaluations standardly receive lower response rates, but richer feedback, than paper evaluations. To mitigate low response rate, standard practice is to send reminders and perhaps to offer incentives to students. Reminders are sent via the IASystem, but are most effective when coming from instructors.

Some university systems offer incentives for online participation. UW is not considering these options but supports incentive via small extra credit IF response remains anonymous. To do so, UW Tacoma encourages instructors to inform students of value and to encourage participation. This phrasing assures anonymity, increases response rate and values student feedback regarding assessment.