Student Ratings of Instruction

Resource Title:
Questions Frequently Asked About Student Rating Forms: Summary of Research Finding

Student ratings of instruction (also known as student evaluations of teaching or course evaluations) are the most commonly used method for evaluating and getting feedback on teaching, as well as one of the most studied topics in higher education. Despite their ubiquity, misperceptions about ratings and problematic use of their results are common in the academy. This page provides resources specific to U-M’s online ratings system, overviews of the research on this topic, and suggestions for using student ratings results effectively, both for improvement and evaluation. To set up an appointment with a CRLT consultant to discuss results of your student ratings, complete our consultation request form.

While research indicates that ratings do provide one useful source of data about teaching quality, there is also widespread agreement that they should never be used in isolation. CRLT’s page on the evaluation of teaching offers an overview of best practices for teaching evaluation, as well as information about other sources of data, such as peer review.


  • U-M Office of the Registrar: Student Ratings - The Registrar's Office runs the U-M online student ratings system. Their website has information on selecting questions, a list of key dates for the evaluation process, answers to frequently asked questions, and data on response rates across campus. 
  • Providing Helpful Feedback to Your Instructor: A Handout for Students - A one-page handout instructors can give to students that explains the key features of helpful written feedback on student ratings. These include addressing comments to the instructor, being specific, and avoiding comments not related to learning (e.g., comments about appearance or insults).

Summaries of the Research

Using Student Ratings Data