Students Speak: Thoughts on the CIOS survey

Design by Brighton Kamen

The Course Instructor Opinion Surveys (CIOS) are likely the least stressful exams any student will take. The survey has 24 core questions, covering the effectiveness of the student, instructor and course from the eyes of students who take it. Despite the surveys’s length, many students are disappointed on what is missing.

“There’s no focus on student-instructor interactions, despite how much Tech prides itself on our class sizes,” Natasha Chrisandina, third-year transfer student, said. “If I were a professor, knowing how well students feel that I answer questions would be important to me, so I’m disappointed it’s not on there.”

Many students hope for more information from CIOS to be published to students. One primary goal of the surveys, per CETL’s page, is “to view ratings of instructors in past terms when making decisions for registration.” Clicking on the student FAQ pertaining to this goal brings users to a broken link intended for course critique, a tool which no longer shows such data. Even if the numeric ratings were there, students suggest that this is not enough.

“I feel as though CIOS misses out on a lot of opportunities” said Kevin Low, second-year MSE major. “Teaching style incompatibility is a big stressor for students in class, and these surveys could be the key to fixing that. The CIOS survey could easily include a section about teaching style and tools used, so future students could find a section which matches their learning style.”

Students noted that the most effective course surveys happen around midterms. They state that this allows for instructors to be able to understand which student needs are unfulfilled and implement changes to fix that.

Some noted that after midterms in classes with such surveys, lecture notes were uploaded more consistently, more time was dedicated to review and exams were announced more directly. In contrast, students seem to feel as though end of year reviews are ignored. This does not seem to be a problem unique to Tech either.

Phils Ngo, international exchange student from Australia, has never taken a CIOS survey. Yet, he notes a theme common to full-time Tech students.

“Back at my university, it’s really ignored. I’ve never felt as though it helped me personally, but I heard a story about students who banded together over an especially bad course and got the school to change the syllabus,” Ngo said. “Anything short of that is pretty well-ignored.”

He, as well as the other students, wished that students who filled out the survey got some kind of feeling as though the feedback were taken seriously. An idea suggested by Ngo is to email students who took the survey to inform them of any results taken on a course or instructor.

Students should be on the lookout for CIOS surveys shortly as the semester comes to a close.