By Shefali Rai, December 3 2020—
The USRI surveys are finally being done online, thanks to COVID-19.
While students have faced all manner of changes in light of the global pandemic, most of which they had no choice in, one of these changes might actually be beneficial if it stays around in the long run. An existing — yet reimagined — tool could be one of the biggest assets for students at the University of Calgary. Course survey feedback forms may sound like an obligatory and mundane fulfilment for students, however, responsibly completing USRIs — Universal Student Rating of Instruction — is an investment into your educational journey.
The Students’ Union vice-president academic, Semhar Abraha, dove deeper into the significance and impact these USRIs can have on our academic experience.
“It has (now) become significantly easier to complete the survey online. Students might miss a class or have to run to another class, so the previous model was limiting. Now with the online form, they can access it everywhere. The biggest issue tackled [with these] online USRIs is the accessibility,” said Abraha.
Not only does improving the accessibility enhance feedback for professors and the institution, but Abraha urges it also allows students to actively participate in their academic training.
“We are getting tons of individual emails asking for our help for specific classes,” adds Abraha. “Students are not getting [the] accommodation they deserve like the 24- hour window for exams. Many current concerns like teaching style, professor’s capabilities to handle zoom and D2L portals, and many more can be solved by providing proper USRI feedback. Students can and [should] be voicing their concerns directly to enhance the overall learning process for the upcoming semesters.”
Given the transition to online classes, Abraha understands accommodating online learning during this pandemic has caused a tremendous amount of pressure and dismay among students and the institution alike. Therefore, completing USRIs has become more powerful than simply providing feedback to your instructors. Though this tool is connected to tenure and promotion opportunities for professors, the real benefactors here are students.
Abraha also urges students to use USRI results rather than using ratemyprofessor.com.
“Most students do not know you can find those results. All you need to do is log in [to My UofC portal/student center] and search for a specific class you are looking for. In your student centre there’s a link that takes you to the USRI results for that specific class and professor. [With that information] you will know exactly what to expect for the class.
“The challenge so far [with USRIs] is that the language used in the results is not student friendly. How can students [easily] interpret the current language and format? I have been advocating to redesign the portal for students to help them interpret, share and benefit from each other’s feedback.”
“Please voice your concern directly using USRIs. It’s a great way to improve the quality of education for the [upcoming] winter semester,” concludes Abraha.