Student Feedback Questionnaires (SFQ)

Summary Background

The Student Feedback Questionnaire (SFQ) project (formally called the Student Evaluation of Teaching and Courses) involves the implementation of a new system, Blue, that will replace the University’s existing course evaluation system, CEVAL, in Fall 2021.

CEVAL is a homegrown solution for obtaining student feedback on courses.  CEVAL will not be available for most courses after Summer 2021. As a result, the University needed to select a new enterprise system that will provide greater functionality and increased flexibility and meet the institution’s commitment to teaching and learning. The University engaged in a request for proposals (RFP) process, and the result of that process is a contract with Explorance for their enterprise-class product, Blue. Lena Paulo Kushnir, associate director, educational technologies, OpenEd, is the project lead for the implementation of the platform and service.


Multiple units within the University will support the transition to Blue from CEVAL.

OpenEd is responsible for the implementation of Blue and will be the primary point of support for the platform and service moving forward. Support resources are available online in the SFQ section of the OpenEd Documentation & Support site.

CCS is responsible for maintaining support for the CEVAL service until it is fully decommissioned in Summer 2022. As part of the CEVAL retirement process, CCS will provide instructions and support to student feedback coordinators (SFCs), formally known as course evaluation coordinators (CECs), for accessing legacy data contained within that system.

The provost’s office is responsible for governing the University’s policies and practices with respect to SFQ (e.g., protocols, access to results).

Stakeholder Consultation & Engagement

In addition to soliciting feedback on the requirements that informed the RFP documents, the implementation team is engaging with the campus community in the following ways:

Steering Committee

A steering committee chaired by Michelle Fach, Executive Director, OpenEd, was formed to help guide the strategic direction of the SFQ implementation. The committee involved representation from various departments and included department chairs, student feedback coordinators (SFCs), graduate and undergraduate students, staff representing Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL), Faculty and Academic Staff Relations (FASR), and Institutional Research and Planning (IRP), as well as representatives from the Guelph-Humber and Ridgetown campuses.

Student Feedback Coordinators (SFCs)

The SFCs in academic departments are key stakeholders for this project, and the implementation team will engage them to help refine processes, improve communication, and review support resources to ensure they meet the University’s needs.


The implementation team is delivering a pilot during the Summer 2021 semester. To support a smooth transition to Blue, the Summer 2021 pilot will test several courses and class scenarios. Three academic departments will participate in the Summer 2021 pilot to test identified scenarios and provide feedback to inform the Fall 2021 implementation.

The pilot will help OpenEd develop and refine SFQ administrative processes and identify the support, training, and communications required for a Fall 2021 deployment. 

Detailed Background

Why is CEVAL Being Replaced? 

While the application has served the University’s needs for many years, there are many factors that are driving the need to replace the existing application. These factors include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The application is currently operating on a platform that will be end-of-life in 2021.
  • The application has limited feature functionality such as automated notifications, and prevention of duplicates.
  • The application’s age as well as the limited resources to maintain it make it challenging to keep up with feature demands, resolve issues, and implement enhancements.
  • The application requires a lot of inefficient manual effort due to the lack of integration with Colleague (the University’s Student Information Systems) and CourseLink (the University’s learning management system); for example, manually populating course and instructor data for every evaluation is necessary.
  • The service is challenging to support and maintain by the service owners because of its complexities, which include a high number of unique identifiers (e.g., course ID, template ID, survey ID).
  • The application’s complexity makes training difficult; for example, there are currently 13 training manuals and several training videos.
  • The application is challenging to use and administer.
  • The application does not meet provincial accessibility requirements (i.e., it is not AODA compliant).
  • The application is not device responsive (e.g., cannot be used on a smartphone).
  • The application does not offer robust reporting and analytical capabilities to satisfy the needs of the institution.
  • The application does not support a tiered approach to assessment to permit formative feedback solely to the instructor.
  • While there are policies and a protocol in place to govern the service, questionnaire templates vary by department and are not standardized at the University level. This lack of consistency negatively impacts data collection and analysis.
Why Blue? 

Instructor Benefits:

  • Improves student response rates and includes a response rate dashboard interface
  • Adds flexibility to accommodate various feedback windows and the ability to provide feedback to multiple instructional team members through single survey
  • Provides the ability for instructors to customize the feedback they receive by selecting their own set of questions from a large, validated, and categorized pool; this feedback is only available to the instructor.
  • Provides the opportunity for inclusion of demographic data (e.g., expected student grade) to provide context and address potential biases when reviewing feedback

Student Benefits:

  • Supports automated targeted reminders to complete evaluations to improve participation rates
  • Improves the student experience by making evaluations mobile-device responsive

SFCs Benefits:

  • Eliminates or reduces many manual processes, thus creating efficiencies, while reducing the overall support and time required for administering student feedback questionnaires

University Benefits:

  • Supports a tiered questionnaire allowing more customization for instructors and provides the institution, college, department, and instructor with more pertinent student feedback
  • Provides guidance and assistance in designing and creating robust and dynamic teaching and course evaluations
  • Enables deeper insights from the students’ perspective into Guelph and Guelph-Humber’s strategies and processes in support of teaching, learning and student success


Project timeline infographic.


Timeline Infographic Details (text version) 
  • June 2017 - CEVAL determined to be nearing end of life
  • July 2018 - RFP development process began
  • August 2018 - OpenEd deemed the new home of SFQ
  • May 2019 - RFP opened
  • December 2019 - RFP Closed | Contract awarded to Explorance (Blue)
  • January 2020 - Implementation process began
  • March 2020 - SFQ Implementation paused (COVID-19)
  • January 2021 - SFQ Implementation process resumed
  • May 2021 - Pilot SFC training began | Pilot launched
  • June 2021 - First questionnaires in Blue completed
  • July 2021 - First reports become available in Blue
  • August 2021 - SFC training for F21 launch | Review of Pilot Feedback
  • September 2021 - Implementation of SFQ | limited access to CEVAL
  • December 2021 - Review of feedback from first semester of SFQ
  • April 2022 - CEVAL retired (Available for legacy data access)

Contact Information

For any questions or comments please contact Greg Sabatine, manager, online technologies, OpenEd.